Neural circuitry involving the amygdala and hippocampus is thought to underlie anxiety. When people are confronted with unpleasant and potentially harmful stimuli such as foul odors or tastes, PET-scans show increased bloodflow in the amygdala. In these studies, the participants also reported moderate anxiety. This might indicate that anxiety is a protective mechanism designed to prevent the organism from engaging in potentially harmful behaviors.
Anxiety is an evolutionarily inherited danger signal. “Oh S#IT, a saber toothed tiger!” Or, “F*CK, a tribe is attacking us!” These were regular occurrences in the lives of our human ancestors. Anxiety signals danger and in my experience seems to be a dull precursor to to a fight or flight response. But we humans, especially in recent years have found a way to feed our anxiety responses when an anxiety response is not merited. (ie, melting ice cream, entering an elevator, being outside etc) And the strange thing is that anxiety usually leaves us frozen and crippled. We can’t seem to think straight or make decisions when we are experiencing anxiety. When an anxiety attack strikes, the only relief seems to be a darkened closet, or a nest under a stack of blankets, and some warm milk would be nice too, but the most important thing is that no one else should be around to judge or even look at us.
What is the point of that? As IF we are a-social creatures who’s personality and experiences are unique to us. Did you know that thousands of people are probably experiencing the EXACT same thing you and I are…right now??
Anyways, I used to suffer from extreme shyness and anxiety…like extreme. When ever I got nervous, I’d literally shut down. I would be frozen and would not be able to speak or sometimes even move, especially when speaking out loud in groups larger than 3. It has been many years since I experienced something like that but whenever I experienced anxiety, I remember a wall of fear would suddenly form around me and I would become transfixed with the resultant thoughts which usually went something like: Everyone hates me. I am a looser. I need to give up. Anything I say or do WILL be used against me. Shit. Where is that closet?
I started to meditate regularly about 10 years ago and I found an ultimate, and infinite source of peace. Let me qualify that, I met my spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen 10 years ago, and had an incredible experience of infinite peace, which has stayed with me (in various degrees) ever since, but consistent meditation helps keep the understanding that I am not a prisoner of ANYTHING my mind throws up at me. I have not have a panic attack or crippling anxiety since I met Andrew. You can read more about what I believe to be the ultimate source of all healing on my previous blogs.
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