Tag Archives: Hippocampus

Calming Fright, Flight, Fight reactions through movement techniques

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP

Mindfulness through Movement

Observing people’s posture in standing and walking for the past 10 years has been educational.  I have begun to notice subtle posture nuances that clearly indicates ones state of mind and their physical and emotional well-being.  The most common condition I am observing in people is a separation between what one thinks and a connection to physical movement.

Generally I notice ones focus of attention is on interpretation of what is happening versus actual experience.  For me this means having a fixed perspective, opinion or belief.  If a physical ailment surfaces there is a fixed belief to go and have someone fix it or use tools to make physical movement easier.  Tools like a cane, walker, scooter, special chair and bed.    What’s missing is an easier possibility!  This is the exploration of how to move differently.  I am not referring to practices such as yoga, therapy, stretching or exercising as the difference is that you are following a limited structured pattern.  I am referring to increasing awareness of feeling how you move in the process of moving.  This includes increasing your ability to focus your attention on how each bone  and joint movement can be sensed.

When mobility increases I notice that there is an increase in coping.  The mask of fear, anger, pain and anxiety is replaced with a peaceful and open appearance.

Recently I wrote about settling the fight, flight, fright experiences of the Hippocampus from the perspective of communication.  I have noticed that another more effective way to settle these reactions has been through the application of Feldenkrais® Movement.

Working with three ways to settle ones flight, fight and fright reactions I find the application of Feldenkrais Movements the quickest and most effective for shifting and integrating change.  It engages more immediate functional connection between ones physical, mental and emotional states of being.  Many times I have experienced someone in a series of 6 classes for balance where after the first or second class someone has given up their cane.  They describe that they are less fearful to stand and support themselves.

This year a trend has been the lack of  connection to feeling one’s legs.  I had to purposely show  someone that they dragged a leg behind them when there wasn’t any physical reason for this.  It turned out this leg had been broken years before and this person forgot how to use this leg.  This resulted in collapsing. When life became too difficult to enjoy they requested an operation, however there wasn’t anything to operate on!

Recently I encouraged someone to consciously shift weight purposely into one of their legs and their reaction was to say that this leg couldn’t support them.  I asked them how they had walked all these years and suggested that this leg must actually be supporting them.  We spent a few minutes practicing shifting weight from foot to foot and their fear was tangible.  A short week later the leg that was not trusted appeared stronger and I smile as there was no hesitation in using this leg.  The fright, flight and fight reactions were not visible!

What is exciting as a practitioner giving guidance to explore patterns of movement is that there it bypasses the stories in ones mind and focuses them on discovering their movement process.  It teaches them ways to feel the movement.     It increases present awareness (being in the moment).

To other ways for calming ones state of flight, fright and fight can be through increased understanding of your emotional and intellectual functions and your environment.

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Renee Lindstrom, GCFP,
Feldenkrais® Practitioner since 2007, Communication,  Empathy,  Values Coach since 2004, Art of Placement  since 2000, Labyrinths of Victoria since 2012, #yyj Peace Week Grassroots Calendar Founder, Vice-Chair of World Children’s Summit on Peace & Nature in 2015

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Intouch with Empathy and the Brain: Amygdale, Hippocampus, Prefrontal Cortex


Amygdalus – Implicit Memory:

  • present at birth
  • includes emotional, behavioral, perceptual and possibly body memory
  • no sense of recollection (time) present when memories recalled
  • conscious attention is not required for encoding
  • does not involve the hippo-campus

Hippo-campus – Explicit Memory:

  • requires conscious attention
  • includes semantic(factual) and episodic(autobiographical) memory
  • develops during the second year of life and beyond
  • sense of recollection present when recalled
  • if autobiographical, a sense of self and time and present
  • if autobiographical, also involves the prefrontal cortex

Prefrontal Cortex

  • regulation of body systems
  • attuning to others
  • balancing emotions
  • modulating fear
  • responding flexibly
  • exhibiting insight and empathy
  • paying attention to the body’s wisdom
  • morality

When we are triggered beyond our window of tolerance our pre-frontal cortex function stops and we are left in responses of fight or flight.  If our reactions shifts into freeze, our brain response has moved from the area of the amygdala and into the hippo-campus with no sense of time and into helplessness.

I have come to understand empathy is an effective tool to balance out the responses of hippo-campus and amygdala.  Empathy allows one to recover and  calms ones prefrontal cortex.  As empathy develops it increases connections back and forth between our right and left brains therefore increasing ones windows of tolerance.  I have also heard that empathy may have a direct link in the amygdala’s ability to accelerate the vagus nerve.

This goes beyond simply a reaction and includes the activation of our  parasympathetic system through the vagus nerve.  See diagram below to get an idea of the areas that become aroused as when we are stimulated.

These reactions includes our motor control.  As we surpass our window of tolerance we begin to lose our fine motor control.  We begin to lose our ability for tracking,  to focus and mind-fully integrate. This involves our ability for self connection, to feel safe, grounded and to be present in the now.

There are  theories to suggest the Amygdala is the accelerator through the 3 channels of the vagus nerve that controls our fight, flight and freeze experience and the quickest tool to connect to the Amygdala is through empathy.

Find out more on how integrating the arts of movement, communication and space compliment your experience and encompasses a holistic approach to wellness.
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by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP @ Inside Awareness,  Living in Natures Love Blog
 & Renee Lindstrom Live