Did you know that the area in our brains responsible for much of our emotional health is a small little almond shaped structure called the “amygdala”? Our amazing brain is constantly operating complex systems that determine our overall health. To my science loving friends, I applaud you for the extensive research and understanding that your hard work has brought about for us all! Science has never been a strong subject for myself growing up, but now that I see my whole existence has to do with the science behind it, I have decided to start learning more, beginning with the body, specifically the brain. (Side note: my book list has grown immensely because of this! AND I am keeping my audible amazon as a result)
Why start with this place in the brain?
Because if we understand how to influence this amygdala, we can become empowered to take control of our emotions. Emotional stimuli comes from our senses (what we see, hear, touch and smell). Those are all things we have a measure of control over. The more good stuff we expose our senses to, the more positively we will impact the amygdala, and thus feel good. Pretty simple concept right?
Even more empowering is understanding the pathways to the amygdala. The long route involves our thalamus and sensory cortex. There is a bit more time for reasoning/thinking. The short route creates a more immediate response. Often referred to as fear or flight route in the brain. Guess which senses take the short route? Touch and smell! Ah that explains why a hug or a massage can feel so good! Even a baby whose brain is not developed enough to reason as an adult knows immediately how good if feels to be held and cuddled. Then smell, we all have immediate reactions when we smell something delicious being cooked, right? We might even start to salivate at the whiff of some homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Get it?? The point is we can use all our senses to effect an emotional response in our brain AND if an immediate response is needed we can use our sense of smell and touch to heighten our emotional state. Interesting stuff.
Just knowing this little bit of info about my brain has made me even more committed to using my daily practices of health and wellness. Here is to hoping it inspires you all too!
Check out this simple slide show on the process: