We’ve all done something because of it and/or in response to it and later regretted our action. However, the good news is that we can train our brain to be less reactive. The amygdala takes over our brain's ability to respond intelligently. The amygdala is the biggest thief who steals the functions of another area of the brain. Most of the complex activity of the brain functions of thought process, perception, and voluntary movement are connected to the activity of the cortical neurons, which are located in the brain’s largest region and perform most of the complex activity. The moment we are experiencing fear, the amygdala robs, numbs, and stops the function of the brain. Our ability to think logically shuts down. Amygdala releases toxins in the entire body for four hours. This is why after an argument or confrontation or any stressful situation, we continue to feel angry, depressed, and furious.
Let me share a personal story. I was at my school and one of my student’s boyfriends walked in with a gun. He wanted to kill a student who had a conflict with his girlfriend the day before. When my students and staff saw him they ran outside. At that time everyone did not have cell phones, including myself. A student ran to a McDonald’s across the street to call the police. All of a sudden I saw myself alone facing this guy with a gun. I took a breath, looked directly into his eyes and told him “You are not using your essence, which is pure, loving and compassionate. You and I are alike. We are spiritual beings who have lived a human life. If you really want to kill me, go for it. But you will end up in jail and your girlfriend will find another man and move on with her life. She is not worth going to jail.” This man, who at first was screaming at the top of his lungs, started to calm down. I held his hand and told him to just breathe from the stomach and start counting to 50. I saw him become became calm. Then he left. While he was exiting the front door of my school, three police cars pulled in. They asked me if I wanted to press charges and I responded, “NO.”
Later, when I my husband returned, he hugged me and I broke down and cried. I felt so good in his arms.
Let’s analyze what happened there. I was scared, but I was confident. I was the person in-charge at my schools, and I was able to project that positive energy to this crazy man. His amygdala had kidnapped his logical brain function. Just breathing from the stomach and counting helped him to redirect his amygdala towards logical thinking.
I cried in my husband's arm because it was a natural comfort that I needed after this traumatizing experience of hearing my students and staff screaming and yelling.
Fear is the apprehension meant to caution us about forthcoming danger and prepare us to run from the hazard. It is where we practice the ‘fight or flight’ response. For example a baby is not afraid of fire unless he experiences burn or discomfort. After that, every time the baby looks at the fire, he will think “hot and dangerous.”
There are other times when a conscious effort is made to fight and go beyond your limits can lead to success. For example, I am claustrophobic every time I am in a tight place. I used to panic and I was not able to breath. I have worked on myself a lot, and now I can ride the elevators and be in big crowds. I learned to meditate every time I feel claustrophobia coming. Breathing and meditation helped me to create a space where I connect with the universe.
At times fear can be an important element of human survival and success.
For some individuals, fear goes beyond forewarning of a real threat. Sometimes the threat is not actually present, but for the individual it is real. Fear of flying is an example. Flying is a lot safer than driving a car. I think only self-hypnosisworksfor me. You can seek professional help if your meditation and other options fail. First try self-help. Include people in your circle to meditate with you. Join group discussions.
In some cases, the fear comes from an individual’s environment—one that is usually violent. That’s when fear becomes a devastating step toward self-destruction. But this can be overcome and conquered by an individual.
Fear is part of our existence and is present in every individual. It seems to be encoded in a small, almond-shaped part of the brain called the amygdala—the region of the brain associated with emotions. And it’s this region that, from time to time, gets overloaded and becomes a master who takes over other brain functions.