When the amygdalae decide to run the show

The word amygdala comes from the Greek word for almond. Each amygdala is made of grey matter and shaped like an almond. As a set of two, the amygdalae are considered part of our ‘reptilian’ brain and are focused solely on survival. They are not capable of reasoning or rationality.

Once a person goes through the experience of having his or her amygdalae set off, a number of things happen. The person almost immediately goes into either ‘fight’, ‘flight’ or ‘freeze’ to deal with the threat. These responses are NOT voluntary. Your body’s survival mechanism has to assess and decide which response will best ensure survival.

Your senses record all of the sensory data: the quality of light, certain sounds, textures, smells, etc. while the event is occurring. This is to ensure that the next time one or more of these sensory situations occurs, that the amygdalae will ‘smell smoke’ and set off the alarms immediately in order to give you the best chance of survival.

These sensory details, when experienced in an otherwise non-threatening environment can send you into fight/flight/freeze as the reptilian brain is not rational and cannot intellectually work out that though the sensory stimuli relate to the original trauma, this is not a threatening situation.

If your alarm bells are set off regularly due to chronic trauma and/or due to the sensory triggers mentioned above, the amygdalae become your limbic system’s ‘easy button’ for all sorts of situations that are not emergencies. That is not your fault. It is the brain firing neurons and wiring them together to enhance your chance at survival. The more it fires, the more it wires. This can create a very negative impact on your ability to live a normal life, as seemingly small things will set you off and your body and brain will go into survival mode.

I have found that the key to pulling out of the vicious cycle mentioned above is to re-wire your brain by encouraging neurons to fire and wire together on a totally new track based in security and not danger. New Moon in the Forest’s goal is to help clients do this through neural messaging through 4 gifts from the Plant Spirits: 1) Biochemistry (Essential oils), 2) Intensely detailed visual scenes, 3) Verbal messages and, 4) Subtle energy.

The combination of these four elements encourages new neural pathways to form, while daily practice along with the client’s other Self-care habits reinforces these new pathways. The goal is to create such robust new neural pathways that your brain will continue to choose them over the amygdalae’s ‘easy button’ for non-threatening daily life experiences.


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