Overcoming the Amygdala Part 11

Earlier, we looked at the seven zones of a Personality Ecosystem. Let’s explore the first of those a little more here.

The Panic Zone

Those of you who have suffered a ‘panic attack’ for whatever reason will recognise this as the zone in which so many ‘fight/flight’ buttons have been pressed by the amygdalic mechanism that the individual loses control of his or her physiology — heart rate races, respiration speeds up, bowels go crazy, thinking becomes erratic, emotions are volatile, and so on. In preparing a person for a physical battle or for fleeing a scene, the amygdala accidentally cripples him or her for rational action. Automatic fear reactions are useful in the animal world — and even in certain circumstances in the human world — but to a large extent they have been outmoded in the human world by the development of keen rationality and educated minds. The trouble is that the bypass mechanism is hard-wired in, so we can get triggered despite our best efforts.

Active Meditation is best done when the person is not in this zone — in fact, it’s almost impossible to meditate in any real fashion while 'freaking out' in this state. But Active Meditation, done regularly over a period of time, can prepare a person for when he or she is next overwhelmed by panic — it can train them to reach for certain immediate techniques which will help them to distance themselves from the heart of the turmoil. And it can build a stronger self-image which the amygdala is forced to include in its calculations regarding menace in a person's surroundings — to that person’s advantage.

People in the middle of panic attacks are conventionally advised to do various things, including to accept and recognise what’s happening, breathe deeply, limit stimuli, try to spot what has triggered the attack (enclosed spaces, crowds, or finance worries, etc), exercise and so on. This is all valuable advice and you may have heard it before. But Active Meditation can teach you to view a panic attack in a different way.