Our nervous system is constantly taking in sensory information from both the external environment and internally from inside our bodies. By processing this information our nervous system continually evaluates risk. The term neuroception is used to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening. Neuroception takes place in the primitive part of our brain, without our conscious awareness. Our brain is wired to notice the ‘bad’ to keep us safe.
The survival mechanism is found in both humans and animals. When we perceive danger, our prefrontal cortex, in charge of making choices and processing information, will shut down and the amygdala will take charge. The amygdala, one of the oldest parts of the brain – reptilian brain, is designed only for survival; it doesn’t think, it just reacts. There are three ways that it might do this Fight, Flight, or Freeze.
The growing body of research in mindfulness suggests that its benefits span across many domains, such as improving focus and creativity, relieving clinical depression and anxiety, and significantly reducing stress among others. It is time to move away from leading with the head to listening to the whole body.