Overcoming the Amygdala Part 25
So there are a couple of things going on in the mind/brain:
1. We have an automatic biological defence system based around the amygdala which projects ideal situations around us all the time so that it can instantaneously detect departures. This hair-trigger system immediately warns us of the presence of potential menace through a biologically wired alarm, triggering physiological and mental symptoms to try to prepare us for whatever the danger is.
2. We have a rational, analytical mind which reasons things out wisely and makes sensible plans and decisions — but which is sometimes twisted slightly out of shape through proximity to the amygdala’s recurring alarms, and thus occasionally falls into distorted patterns of response as a matter of habit.
Distorted patterns of response mean that the world is being perceived inaccurately on occasion — and if the world isn’t quite being seen as it actually is, guess what the amygdala does? That’s right: it sees more and more departures from the ideal — departures that don’t actually exist at all in many cases — and presses the alarm button again and again.
Then what happens? Repeated alarms lead to constant anxieties. If the anxieties are not subjected to the most rigorous rational examination — as often they are not — the mind starts coming up with new distorted patterns of thought to try to make sense of them all.
No wonder that anxiety and depression get control of more and more people.
How do we start to pick all this apart?
Beginning with Distorted Thinking
Active Meditation can calm down an individual so that the alarms don’t ring quite so loudly in his or her ears. Discovering that there are parts of the self that are untouched by the amygdalic system can come as a great relief and offer hope in a world full of external and internal ‘noise’.
Parallel to meditation, though, it’s important to examine and recalibrate the rational mind.
This starts by assessing our own ways of thinking and comparing them to an objective truth (or as objective as possible) so that we can spot the distortions more clearly.
Who says our thinking is distorted? Maybe we are seeing things as they actually are! It turns out that there are some indicators which reveal whether or not a pattern of thought is totally rational or not.