Lately, many of us have been living in time of fear, which translates to a lot of anxiety.
Fear is a powerful physiological response, orchestrated by a complex threat detection system in our brain, the amygdala being one player in that system. Our brain’s primary responses to fear are short-term: fight, flight, freeze and forget-it (okay maybe not always “forget-it.”) For some people a range of these emotions washed over them on election night, for many others they’ve been feeling these emotions acutely ever since.
But here’s the thing, when the threat detection system in our brain is activated, and fear takes over, other areas of the brain aren’t as active, making it difficult for us to do our best thinking. Things like being able to see the big picture clearly, discern danger from reality, see nuance and complexity, plan long-term solutions, and problem solve become challenging.
While we’re all wired to think and feel, to fear and fret, we’re also wired to “attend” and “befriend,” as psychologists would say. We might also call these natural responses “mindfulness” and “compassion.”
So how do we ease out of fear mode? This is what mindfulness…