Some people cringe in the face of fearful experiences and others stand toe-to-toe with them.
Why certain experiences cause your brain to go over the edge of reason and others don’t is the exploration of neuroscience research in this mysterious reaction.
Fear is an experience in the body where we don’t know what to do; we stop suddenly and are frozen statues-stuck not being able to move or think. As the expert in horror writing, Stephen King suggests there are 3 components in fear:
Dread- of something coming- terror-as it happens, and horror -replay of the experience.
A new part of the brain has been identified in threat detection call the xiphoid nucleus. When mice are confronted by a predator, they usually freeze or run away. When rat’s brains were manipulated by researchers, rather than run, the mice took a stance to fight and express courage (Andrew Huberman).
Now the fight response is believed to come from a separate brain circuit and response. And it has been found that the mental shift to wanting to confront a fear or stand up for yourself or to a physical challenge has a pleasure component so that we innately want overcome a challenge.
We are wired to sense danger, and we respond to danger with fleeing, fighting, freezing, or fainting. While each of these responses are potentially adaptive, in today’s world when problems face us we are less likely to need these dramatic responses, but we need more nuanced responses to keep ourselves safe. The feelings of danger may stay with us longer. Those lingering feelings can chip away at our sense of wellbeing. How do we maintain a sense of wellbeing?
We have the ability to self-correct by practicing the state of coherence. This is the state where the brain is balanced in blood flow and electrical firing. By using meditation to get beyond yourself and find the state that is quiet and uplifting, you can find amazing innate abilities that no one teaches you when you were a child. You can lower anxiety, dissipate depression, shift a reactive mind, and feel happier. Most of all you discover fundamental wellbeing.
This means that the mind does not find wellbeing through self-analysis. The mind cannot search for the self because it only experiences objects. We are not an object. So we must have a felt experience of wellbeing. So when you shift to place inside yourself “beneath” anxiety, depression, or even rumination, you can find the state of wellbeing.
Fundamental wellbeing is a shift in perspective and is simple. It has been with you forever. But when you don’t feel great, it seems like it is not there. Mental suffering occurs from trying to make labels fit or create an object. As you shift from a mind-based filter that creates objects, you begin to experience wellbeing. When you find a meditation tool that gives you this perspective as you experience the tool, you find the shift into contentment is rather subtle.
Meditation is not an easy commitment. But if you make time each day for this personal experience, the results are well worth it to feel yourself letting go of the old way of thinking and being. Wellbeing emerges from calm and peace which often occurs in meditation. After the meditation, you may notice a background sense of ok-ness. Even if things in life stir up negative emotion, underneath seems fine. And you may find a sense of wholeness and realize a sense of completeness.
After a while, you may come to a place where you no longer want to do things to give you a false sense of wellbeing such as collect “stuff”. Since the mental state of being ok is already there, you are likely to enjoy what you do more from this perspective.
You can have more distance from emotionally charged situations or the charge from an upset subsides more quickly. Your own thoughts have less power over you. You notice you judge people less harshly. You may feel more complete within yourself. Perhaps you place less attention on your own story and stop self -analysis so self -reflective thought diminishes. You wake up each day without misery. Instead you look forward to the day.
Another meditation method is to use the Muse device (amazon) which measures your brainwaves real time and gives you feedback about whether you are in a calm state. Often it is easier to use a technology to practice the desired mental state. Then you can live more frequently north of happiness.
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