What does the amygdala do?
The amygdala is a little part inside the brain that is responsible for sorting perceptions of the environment around us, and choosing which part of the brain’s emotional centers it’s going to send that information for processing
This information can get thrown forward, to our prefrontal cortex, where we humans do our problem solving, or can get thrown back toward the more instinctive, primitive parts of our brain that's in charge of our "fight, flee, or freeze" functions.
Emotional feedback, negative or positive, is a good thing. It keeps us tuned in to our environment and alert to both threats and opportunities. But constant negative feedback can short-circuit our brain's creative problem solving ability, turning us into overreacting, anxiety riddled hot heads instead.
The amygdala is our guard dog. Whenever we perceive something as negative or threatening, it often causes a strong, instinctual emotional response in us to protect ourselves.
But when our amygdala is overburdened with negative thoughts and sustained perceptions of threats—and those can be anything from a shadow of a big hairy spider to a performance review—it can keep us in a state of unnecessary anxiety and stress.
You can train your brain however to activate the amygdala in a positive way, to stimulate more complex thinking, improve creativity, raise social and emotional intelligence and alleviate anxiety.
The following amygdala brain games are just a few of the over 360 in the curriculum of Brain Education, a program created by Ilchi Lee. Dave Beal, a national Brain Education trainer and Program Director for Power Brain Education (PBE), says, "These brain games can be used to train your amygdala to act wisely, instead of reactively, in the face of perceived threats or negative situations."
How to Retrain Your Amygdala
Laughing is a great physical workout—great for strengthening abdominal muscles, improving energy circulation and relieving tension and stress throughout the body. Laughing also releases endorphins, "happy chemicals" that help our brain process information better and improve our learning efficiency. Even when we have no outside "reason" to laugh, the simple act of laughing lowers cortisol levels and balances levels of serotonin and dopamine which help us feel naturally great.
Laughing exercise takes a little practice to get going because, at first, it may feel forced. But laughter is also contagious and soon, you'll go from laughing about nothing to laughing about laughing. You can do this by yourself, with a partner or a whole riot of people. Just settle into a comfortable spot, break out a big smile and start gently giggling. Then work yourself up to a full-blown laugh. Keep building until you've forgotten whatever it was that was making you feel blue. Your whole body will feel lighter and you'll be able to tackle your problems from a calmer, more level head.
Like magnets, our bodies produce electromagnetic energy. But stress, negative thoughts and emotions can distort our energy fields. Get your electrons back on track with a class in magnet meditation. Or have fun playing with energy with the Magnetic Meditation Kit. A simple exercise is to take two magnets and practice holding them in your hands, pushing them as close together as you can without letting them touch, then pulling them apart, just past the point where you can no longer feel their energy. It's a great, seemingly mindless activity that is actually resetting your brain!
Brain Wave Vibration
Brain Wave Vibration is a super simple, yet amazingly effective exercise for sweeping away negative emotions, fatigue and everyday stress. Simply sit or stand in a quiet space, take a few deep breaths and start swaying your head from side-to-side. You can sway with your eyes partly or fully closed. It helps if you put a smile on your face while swaying, and go inward toward your positive thoughts. Turn your head slowly, first to the left, then the right, continuing this slow 'wave' for as long as you like. Brain Wave Vibration really does Clear your head to make room for solutions to your everyday problems.
Typically, we tend to store negative remarks made by others about us in our memories. But a good compliment can have everlasting effects too. Share the good vibes with the Compliment Game. Simply sit in a room and form a circle. Hold a beanbag and choose a person, next to you or across the room—you decide—and, as you're tossing the beanbag to them, toss them a sincere compliment as well.
Whenever you find yourself facing an anxious situation, give your amygdala a workout with these brain games. Play them before a job interview, a presentation or a difficult conversation. Then see what a difference an amygdala with a positive sense of direction can make to your life!
If you'd like to continue taking care of your brain, and learning about its most important parts, you'd probably be interested in our Pineal Gland Awakening Workshop. The workshop helps you break free of feeling foggy and stuck in life, as well as educating you on the pineal gland and how you can regain clarity if it's declined in function. Read more about it here.