I was recently introduced to a new technique that I have found to be so beneficial for helping with trauma release for the brain. I want to share it because it has also been helpful for people with ADHD or PTSD. I thought I would offer it in a 3 part series as it isn’t necessarily a lengthy technique to practice on yourself, but there is a lot of cool information that I want to hand off that would be too much for one blog. So check back in next month!
The first structure of the brain that I wanted to focus on is the amygdalae. Anyone who has done any reading on ADHD or PTSD has probably heard of them. They are two walnut sized collections of nerve nuclei deep in the temporal lobes. When faced with threats, these two clusters coordinate the body’s hormonal, behavioral, and neural responses. They also hold emotional memory from the past.
In a recent session I had with a cranial sacral therapist, I was able to locate them with in myself and start to pay attention to how they respond to my thoughts, outside noises, and feelings coming from within and the world around me. What I learned from the experience is that our amygdalae aren’t always in sync. For me, the right one, as Daniel Goleman shares in his book, “Emotional Intelligence“, gets “hijacked“. I could feel how the left was steady and strong while the one on the more emotionally sensitive side of my brain is prone to going offline when overwhelmed or fires up and has no brakes.
Certain memories or triggers can kick the amygdalae into high gear causing people with emotional trauma to become hyper aroused or hyper vigilant, looking for cues at a faster and faster rate to prevent harm from happening to them. Because these emotional centers are linked so intricately with the hippocampus, hijackings can cause periods of forgetfulness when upset or scared, doubling the disorientation and fears of being hurt or anxious.
When it comes to working with ones paper clutter, I have found that an underlying fear can trip up our emotional processing center in a split second, leaving a person unable to focus and follow through with an office organizing project or worse, causing one’s brain circuitry to trip up every time they walk by their piles. Going straight to the source of the misfiring by tuning into one’s amygdalae is a relatively simple exercise with sound results.
Get comfortable by settling into a chair or wherever you like to go for a time out, making sure no one can bother you for about 15 minutes. Take a couple of deep breaths and when you feel ready, put your index fingers slightly in front of your ears. There is a small indentation in line with your eyes. Settle your finger softly on the tissue, then bringing your attention to the pupils of your eyes, begin to settle your awareness back 2 inches, at the same time, drawing the attention of your index fingers in to meet them. Sink into the tissue and bone until you can feel your amygdalae. Once you sense them, back off about a half an inch, softening your gaze. Notice how they feel. You can tune in one at a time or both at once. What is the quality of the tissue? How do they compare to one another? Is one more resistant to having a conversation with you? Do they feel full? hot? dry? tender? scared? stiff? Notice how other parts of your body are responding or how you react to outside sounds.
See if you can put a number to the rate at which either amygdala are responding to outside sounds or inside thoughts or feelings. 100 would constitute being in high speed and 10-30 going at a relaxed pace, not to concerned with what is happening in your environment. If one is higher than the other, keeping your attention on them with your soft awareness, ask the one that is higher if it can slow down at 10 degree increments. Set your intention that you would like for the two of them to work together. When you feel they have softened enough to continue to the next lower level, imagine the new number or imagine a burner, and lower the flame. Keep doing this until they are in alignment and at the lowest level of attention you feel comfortable with.
Practicing this 3 times a day at first can be so beneficial for ones awareness, sense of calm, and ability to see and relax into the future and settle into the now. I find when I use this technique while working on this blog, for example, I move into hyper perfection mode much less than I might otherwise, and when I do, it is for shorter periods of time and my amygdalae and hippocampus stay online!
If you want to delve in deeper now, check out Sue Hoveland’s work and her article “Releasing Trauma from the Brain.“