How can fear be physically felt?


Fear is a deeply rooted, physical experience affecting various parts of the body. When we feel fear, it often manifests in specific areas such as the throat, shoulders, solar plexus, stomach, and heart. This physical sensation can be addressed by shifting focus from the mind to these body parts and using deep breathing to bring a sense of relaxation and expansion 1.

From a neurological perspective, fear starts in the brain and spreads through the body, initiating the "fight or flight" response. The amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for detecting emotions like fear, triggers this response. When activated, the amygdala sets off a chain of events preparing the body to defend itself, including heightened alertness, dilated pupils, and increased readiness for motor functions 2.

Additionally, fear can also be tied to emotional and psychological triggers from past experiences. For example, fear of failure might be rooted in painful childhood memories. The brain tries to protect us by making the body physically react to imagined future failures, causing real stress and anxiety in the present 3.

Embodying Fear

Pema Chödrön shares a practical method for working with fear by physically feeling it in the body and using deep breaths to relax and expand. Dan Harris embraces the wisdom of the body and discusses how shifting attention from the mind to the body can break patterns of rumination and anxiety.

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Holding it Together When Things Fall Apart | Pema Chödrön