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UNDERSTANDING PANIC AND ANXIETY

A few days ago, a student, sent me an article containing an interview with Joseph LeDoux, the Neuroscientist who discovered the functioning of the brain's amygdala and its "Flight or Fight" reactions. LeDoux said he's sorry that he did not understand it properly, when he first published his findings, and that his research has subsequently been misused.
His understanding has, since then, developed into much higher levels, which now open fundamental questions about consciousness.

His new understanding is much closer to what I've already been teaching, so, of course, I want to comment on it.

The Conscious Complexity of Flight or Fight

Please read the article, Everybody Misunderstanding Fear and Anxiety, before reading my comments, below:

LeDoux has begun to appreciate the problem of consciousness. He still acknowledges that the reactions that lead to the conscious experience of fear and anxiety are faster (800 X faster!) than our conscious awareness can ever operate. But, then he claims that the emotions arise only after other areas of the brain have activated, i.e., a complex process; and only with a brain that can be conscious of its own activity. --We would call this mindfulness.

Mindfulness: Awareness vs Consciousness

He is making an assumption that emotions only exist if there is ego awareness of them.
--Remember the Koan, “If a tree falls in the forrest when no one is there, does it still make a sound?”

There is always awareness. It does not need an ego to exist. Do the emotions exist if there is no one there to feel them?

Science is very fuzzy about consciousness, because it does not differentiate consciousness from awareness. Consciousness actually requires an ego to exist.

As an Emotional Therapy Coach and Shaman, I am always pointing out to people the emotions and beliefs that they are unaware of, which are driving their actions and how others experience them in the world. People's personal Dissociation is rampant.
--Emptiness can hold an infinite amount of unconscious emotion.

LeDoux uses the concept of abstract objects of fear to differentiate humans from animals. I have often pointed this out as a particular problem for humans, as these objects are not usually life threatening, but, they do cause reactions, as if they were.

LeDoux is correct when he points out that psychotropic drugs do not address the causal problem. Psychotropic drugs have arisen in a culture that is highly trained to suppress, or project, emotions, but not to feel them. Drugs help us to not feel. Drugs can not release the conditioning that causes the reactive feeling in the first place. And on top of that, no drug has ever done better than its placebo, in honest trials, because, the reaction begins in the unconscious, non-physical, mind field.
--The field where Rumi wants to meet us, beyond good and bad.

LeDoux now claims that  the neurological reactions are not the actual experience of fear and anxiety. That is true, but not in the sense he explains. He claims that it is consciousness creating a story, which is attached to the reaction, which generates the experience of fear and anxiety. He notes that story-building involves many other parts of the brain in order to generate the story.

"Fear" and "anxiety" may be just words and labels for the actual experience. But, the experience is real. It’s a both/ and situation. The real problem is not that the story generates what we call fear and anxiety. Those are still labels for the real experience which causes us to react 800 times faster than we can become conscious of the process.

Therefore, the real problem is that the suffering we associate with fear and anxiety is caused by the story, not by the primal reaction. That is why drugs do not work. A major factor in the story is the dictum drummed into us, “Do not feel fear, anger, sadness or any versions of those emotions.” We hear that [anti-] "wisdom" repeated so often and with such strong emotional conviction, at such an early and impressionable age, that we absorb it as a deep subconscious conditioning. Our adult self does not even notice that we are suppressing or projecting emotions, i.e., not feeling them. Is it any wonder that Disassociation is so very rampant in our society, and in ourselves?

Your Story causes you to either suppress your feelings, locking them away deep in your subconscious mind; or automatically (unconsciously) project your feelings onto another, as your body tenses, stresses, and blocks the flow of Qi.

This is process is especially true for the secondary reactions of shame and guilt, which hold the primary emotional reactivity, and pain, in place. The best explanation I've seen of this, is in the book Spiritual Materialism, by Chogyam Trungpa.

As mindful mediators know, it is possible to be aware of the felt experience of emotions, without labeling them. It is also possible to be aware of the automatic process of creating labels and building stories around feelings. Awareness can also deconstruct the stories, so we can return to a primal, simple, pure, felt experience.

Buddha was the first deconstructionist philosopher. The Heart Sutra is the instruction manual for deconstruction of the egoistic experience.

As both Taoism and Buddhism teach, when the Qi is blocked, pain arises. When Qi flows, no pain arises. When emotions are felt, they are experienced as pure energy (Qi!), useful energy (Qi!) = Aliveness, power and compassion.

There is absolutely no need for psychotropic drugs. Rather, there is a need for Mindfulness Training, for mindful and compassionate coaches, mentors, leaders, and for consciousness changing techniques, like
Feel Free Fast!

Dissociation: Unconscious Emotional Reaction

As an Emotional Therapy Coach and Shaman, I am always pointing out to people the emotions and beliefs that they are unaware of, which are driving their actions and how others experience them in the world. People's personal Dissociation is rampant.
--Emptiness can hold an infinite amount of unconscious emotion.

LeDoux uses the concept of abstract objects of fear to differentiate humans from animals. I have often pointed this out as a particular problem for humans, as these objects are not usually life threatening, but, they do cause reactions, as if they were.

LeDoux is correct when he points out that psychotropic drugs do not address the causal problem. Psychotropic drugs have arisen in a culture that is highly trained to suppress, or project, emotions, but not to feel them. Drugs help us to not feel. Drugs can not release the conditioning that causes the reactive feeling in the first place. And on top of that, no drug has ever done better than its placebo, in honest trials, because, the reaction begins in the unconscious, non-physical, mind field.
--The field where Rumi wants to meet us, beyond good and bad.

LeDoux now claims that  the neurological reactions are not the actual experience of fear and anxiety. That is true, but not in the sense he explains. He claims that it is consciousness creating a story, which is attached to the reaction, which generates the experience of fear and anxiety. He notes that story-building involves many other parts of the brain in order to generate the story.

"Fear" and "anxiety" may be just words and labels for the actual experience. But, the experience is real. It’s a both/ and situation. The real problem is not that the story generates what we call fear and anxiety. Those are still labels for the real experience which causes us to react 800 times faster than we can become conscious of the process.

Therefore, the real problem is that the suffering we associate with fear and anxiety is caused by the story, not by the primal reaction. That is why drugs do not work. A major factor in the story is the dictum drummed into us, “Do not feel fear, anger, sadness or any versions of those emotions.” We hear that [anti-] "wisdom" repeated so often and with such strong emotional conviction, at such an early and impressionable age, that we absorb it as a deep subconscious conditioning. Our adult self does not even notice that we are suppressing or projecting emotions, i.e., not feeling them. Is it any wonder that Disassociation is so very rampant in our society, and in ourselves?

Your Story causes you to either suppress your feelings, locking them away deep in your subconscious mind; or automatically (unconsciously) project your feelings onto another, as your body tenses, stresses, and blocks the flow of Qi.

This is process is especially true for the secondary reactions of shame and guilt, which hold the primary emotional reactivity, and pain, in place. The best explanation I've seen of this, is in the book Spiritual Materialism, by Chogyam Trungpa.

The Deconstruction of Ego and The Release of Suffering

As mindful mediators know, it is possible to be aware of the felt experience of emotions, without labeling them. It is also possible to be aware of the automatic process of creating labels and building stories around feelings. Awareness can also deconstruct the stories, so we can return to a primal, simple, pure, felt experience.

Buddha was the first deconstructionist philosopher. The Heart Sutra is the instruction manual for deconstruction of the egoistic experience.

As both Taoism and Buddhism teach, when the Qi is blocked, pain arises. When Qi flows, no pain arises. When emotions are felt, they are experienced as pure energy (Qi!), useful energy (Qi!) = Aliveness, power and compassion.

There is absolutely no need for psychotropic drugs. Rather, there is a need for Mindfulness Training, for mindful and compassionate coaches, mentors, leaders, and for consciousness changing techniques, like
Feel Free Fast!