Finally I have emerged from winter’s slumber with a renewed sense of hope and brain clarity. Part 2 of this series is a tale of two hippos (hippocampus) and the hypothalamus; both beautiful intricate webs of nuclei. The latter remind me of the antennae of butterflies, partly because of the stems connecting the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland, which sits behind the bridge of the nose, but mainly because of its external and internal sensory ability. It guides our bodies by shifting gears, both sensing, then regulating the comings and goings of neurohormones. To name a few, it controls the release of hormones by the pituitary gland, body temperature, the control of sexual behavior and reproduction, the intake of nutrition, and the cycles of ones circadian rhythm. I imagine the hypothalamus as the queue for proper uploading and downloading of our bodies blueprint for inherent health.
The other relics of the brain, the hippocampus, are sea horse shaped, shown in purple above. These stalwarts work round the clock turning short-term memory into long-term memory. They are also part of the limbic system, and are responsible for linking long term memories to our emotions. One step further down the road, those solidified links can then influence the amygdala and its response to outside stimuli- After that, oh what an emotional ride one might find themselves on. I recently learned that the hippocampus are involved in our navigation system as well.
In Part 1, the amygdalae, shown in red above, were brought to a calmer state by first tuning into them with conscious awareness, then bringing their agitation levels down with either value numbers or lowering the flame. The next step is having a conversation between the hypothalamus and the amygdalae. To start, your index fingers should be where you left off in the first exercise, in the small indentation in front of the ears and level with your eyes. Your awareness should be about 2 inches behind each eye and about an inch inward from the fingers position. The intersection of the two is where the amygdalae are located.
After restoring a more balanced equilibrium to each amygdala, it is time to move your ring fingers to where your index fingers are and while still holding that position, place your middle fingers just above the front lip of your external ears. Imagine moving inward toward the center of the brain where the hypothalamus are located. Once you locate them, notice how they feel and like the exercise with the amygdalae, bring them down to a more manageable level…let’s say a 30 or 40 out of 100.
Next, lay the tips of your index fingers down next to the middle fingers across the top of the ears. You are now in contact with your temporal lobes. The hippocampus and the amygdala are in line with one another, so one can sort of imagine your fingers getting longer energetically, cupping both the amygdalae and the hippocampus together. With intention, ask for a softening, balance and connectivity between all three nuclei, as your fingers continue to support this process. You can do this if you are a visual person by seeing them all connected by energy lines running at the same frequency, or if you are more of a feeler, by imbibing a certain tone to the tissue, a soft yet flexible quality to all three components.
I often find a stillness that happens when making the connections to each part, followed by a deep intake of air or sigh accompanied by a feeling of expansion or release of tension. Congratulations! You have successfully helped yourself in beginning to retrain a habitual response that affects your fight or flight (amygdala), memory (hippocampus), and hormonal fear response (hypothalamus), in relation to a trigger. Doing this two or three times repeatedly, depending on the level of activation, can be so helpful to our ability to concentrate longer on a paper or organizing project, and create new pathways in the brain that contain less fear and more clarity.
If you want to learn more, check out Sue Hoveland’s work and her article “Releasing Trauma from the Brain.“