We live in a fearful world with exposure to a deluge of stressors everyday. As much as fear is a result of reacting to the actual or perceived events in our lives, it is also a biological function of the human body, and when equipped with an understanding of how the body manages the emotional system, we can easily outsmart it, tricking ourselves into emotional balance.
This perspective is scientifically validated by new research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago Illinois, which discovered how the various rhythmic patterns of breath profoundly impact memory recall and the emotional body, specifically the fear response.
The amygdala is decisively liked to the processing of emotions, especially those related to fear, while the hippocampus is strongly linked to memory recall, and the breath, which originates with the diaphragm, plays the critical role of regulating their function.
“Breathing is modulated at the diaphragm, and it is also the location where many physical symptoms associated with fear and anxiety manifest.“ ~Brett Wilbanks
The differences in brain activity which occur during unique breathing rhythms were recognized by looking at brain activity during the introduction of fearful or surprising human faces, finding distinctively heightened activity during inhaling. Knowing this can be highly advantageous when you realize that your fear reaction is working overtime.
“We can potentially use this fact to our advantage. For example if you’re in a dangerous environment with fearful stimuli, our date indicate that you can respond more quickly if you are inhaling through your nose.” ~Christina Zelano
Furthermore, this further validates the importance of meditation, which commonly centers of developing control of the breath in order to quiet the mind and normalize physiological function in the body. The long-term results of a dedicated meditation practice include more stable and optimal emotional reactions to the world around us, indicating again that breathing is a critical component of living a fearless life.
This is viewpoint is backed up by this research, as noted by Zelano.
“When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network.” ~Christina Zelano