Retraining the Amygdala Relaxation Script (Two Parts)

Retraining the Amygdala - Part 1

This is a two-part relaxation exercise for retraining the Amygdala. Anyone who experiences stress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find that the Amygdala becomes so accustomed to producing the stress response, that the stress response starts to feel like a normal state. The Amygdala becomes hyperactive, triggering the stress response when such a response is not warranted.

This relaxation script, in two parts, will help you to retrain the brain’s arousal level and responses so the Amygdala can return to normal functioning. Progressive muscle relaxation and autogenics techniques will train your brain to perform the relaxation response in part one.

Begin this relaxation for retraining the Amygdala by tensing and then relaxing each area I mention. When you tense the area, do not cause any pain. Tighten only until you feel tension. If you feel any discomfort, stop or ease up.

Raise your shoulders up toward your ears...tighten the muscles there...hold...feel the tension in your neck and shoulders...feel the muscles wanting to give up the tension...and now release. Let your shoulders drop to a lower, more comfortable position.

Relax for a few moments, just noticing how your neck and shoulders feel.

Now tighten your hands into fists. Very, very tight...as if you are squeezing a rubber ball very tightly in each hand...hold...feel the tension in your hands and forearms...and now release. Shake your hands gently, shaking out the tension. Feel how much more relaxed your hands are now.

Raise your eyebrows, feeling the tight muscles in your forehead. Hold that tension. Now tightly lower your eyebrows and scrunch your eyes closed, feeling the tension in your forehead and eyes. Hold it tightly. And now, relax...let your forehead be relaxed and smooth, your eyebrows gently resting.

Tightly close your mouth, clamping your jaw shut, very tightly. Your lips will also be tight and tense across the front of your teeth. Feel the tension in your jaw. Hold...and now relax. Release all the tension. Let your mouth and jaw be loose and relaxed.

Mentally scan your body now for areas of tension. Find the place where your body feels the most tense, and concentrate on that area. Tighten the muscles there...holding very tight and tense...and now release. Relax...let all the tension go.

Breathe in deeply, and hold that breath. Feel the tension as you hold the air in. Hold...and now relax. Let the air be released through your mouth. Breathe out all the air.

Once more, breathe in...and how hold the breath. Hold...and relax. Release the air, feeling your entire body relax.

Breathe in...and out...

In...and out...

Continue to breathe regular breaths. Allow any remaining tension to drain away with your breaths.

(Pause)

Now turn your attention to your right hand. Imagine your right hand becoming warm. Starting at the tips of your thumb and fingers, the feeling of warmth spreads to your palm...to the back of your hand...to your wrist...

Your right hand is very warm...very heavy...relaxed.

Focus now on your left hand. Feel the feeling of warmth in your left hand...in your thumb and fingers...your palm...the back of your hand... your wrist...

Your left hand is warm, heavy, and relaxed.

Notice your right arm becoming heavy and warm. Relaxing into warmth and heaviness...your forearm...elbow...upper arm...

Your whole right arm is warm...very warm and heavy...the feeling of heaviness is very comfortable and relaxing...

Now turn your attention to your left arm. Feel your left arm warming, relaxing...Your left arm feels warm and heavy. Feel your left forearm... elbow...upper arm relaxing...warming...your entire left arm is heavy and warm...very relaxed.

Turn your attention now to your feet. Notice the feeling of warmth spreading from your right toes...to your right foot...the bottom of your foot...the top of your foot...your ankle...your right foot feels very heavy...warmer...heavier...relaxed.

Feel the warmth beginning in the toes of your left foot. Your left foot is becoming warm...from the bottom of your left foot...to the top...to your ankle...your left foot is warm...heavy...relaxing...Both of your feet are pleasantly warm...a relaxed feeling of heaviness...warmth...and relaxation...

Feel the relaxation increasing...growing...your right lower leg becomes warm...your knee...your right upper leg...your right leg is heavy and warm...

Feel your left lower leg warming and relaxing...your knee...upper leg...your left leg is warm and heavy...

Both of your legs are completely relaxed...

Imagine the warmth in your arms. Imagine the warmth in your legs. Picture a feeling of heaviness in your arms and legs...so pleasantly heavy and relaxed.

Feel your heartbeat. So slow and steady. So regular...becoming even more slow...regular...steady...feel your heart rate slowing comfortably...

Notice a feeling of coolness on your forehead. So smooth and cool and relaxed.

Imagine the following relaxing statements, repeating each one silently in your mind:

My arms and legs are warm and heavy.

Retraining the Amygdala.

My heart beat is slow and steady.

Retraining the Amygdala.

My forehead is cool.

Retraining the Amygdala.

My arms and legs are very warm...relaxed...

Retraining the Amygdala.

My arms and legs are so heavy and relaxed...

Retraining the Amygdala.

My heartbeat is steady...slow...relaxed...

My forehead is smooth and cool...

I am relaxed...

I am relaxed...

(Pause)

I am so deeply relaxed...

(Pause)

Enjoy the relaxation you are experiencing...use your left thumb and two fingers to gently squeeze your right thumb, while at the same time saying silently, "relax," anchoring the feeling of relaxation to this spot.

Experience the feeling of deep relaxation. Notice your breathing. Notice how calm and regular your breathing is...watch your breathing, without trying to change it in any way.

As you breathe in, say in your mind, "I am relaxed."

As you breathe out, mentally say, "I am calm."

I am relaxed.

I am calm.

I am relaxed.

I am calm.

Now squeeze your right thumb while mentally saying, "relax." Let the anchoring occur as this spot becomes associated with the peaceful, relaxed state you are in.

Feel the relaxation deepen each time you squeeze your right thumb while saying, "relax."Continue to allow the relaxation to flow throughout your body... calm...peaceful...relaxed...

(Pause)

Memorize this feeling of relaxation. Notice how your body feels. Notice how calm you are. Create a picture in your mind of this state of relaxation. With this image in mind, gently squeeze your right thumb one more time while saying to yourself, "relax." Feel the relaxation deepen.

This spot is an anchor to remind you of the relaxation you are feeling right now. In the future, when you squeeze your right thumb, the feelings and memories of how relaxed you are right now will fill your mind, and your body does automatically relax.

You are so deeply relaxed and serene. Calm...relaxed...

Warm...safe...comfortable...relaxed...

(Pause)Every time you squeeze your right thumb, it causes you to relax, instantly and deeply.

(Pause)

Now you have completed part one this relaxation for retraining the Amygdala exercise. Repeat this exercise daily for retraining the Amygdala. Frequent practice will effectively allow retraining the Amygdala to occur, and will teach you how to quickly and easily relax.

Take a few moments now to reawaken your body and mind, while keeping with you a feeling of relaxation.

Wiggle your fingers to wake up your arms and hands.

Move your toes, waking up your feet and legs.

Shrug your shoulders and stretch if you want to, becoming more awake and alert.

Open your eyes and sit quietly for a few moments while you become reoriented to your surroundings.

When you are completely awake and alert you can return to your day, feeling relaxed and filled with energy.

Retraining the Amygdala - Part 2

This is the second part of the retraining the Amygdala exercise. In this part two of the retraining the Amygdala relaxation script, you will learn to experience various emotions without escalating into panic or anxiety. With practice, you can re-train the brain to respond with moderate levels of emotion rather than extreme panic in various situations.

Begin by getting comfortable.

Take a few moments just to breathe.

Breathe in...and out...

In...out...

Let your breathing start to relax you. As you settle in, gently squeeze your right thumb, your anchor, to trigger feelings of relaxation and instantly relax deeply.

(Pause)

As you relax...more and more deeply...I would like you to imagine some emotions, and practice increasing and decreasing the level of arousal in your nervous system.

Let’s begin with a feeling of excitement.

Imagine what it feels like to feel excited. A pleasant, happy, excited feeling.

Create this feeling, to the best of your ability, to experience a feeling of excitement.

Now imagine increasing that feeling...imagining what it feels like to be very joyful and excited. This is a positive, pleasant feeling...but notice how in your body, the feelings of joy and excitement resemble feelings of anxiety.

Imagine that you have a dial that you can turn up and down. Imagine the dial controls the spectrum of excited feelings, at the lower end is slight excitement...moving up to moderate excitement...and at the higher end is very high excitement...followed by anxiety.

Imagine turning up the dial...increasing feelings of excitement and getting closer to anxiety.

Imagine turning up the dial past the point of where you are comfortable. Stay here for a few moments, observing this feeling, while knowing that you are safe.

(Pause)

Experience this feeling...somewhat positive...yet uncomfortable. See that the feeling does not hurt you in any way...and that you are able to tolerate this feeling easily.

See, too, that you can adjust this feeling as needed, turning the dial down. Go ahead and turn the dial down now, to wherever you feel comfortable. You may feel comfortable at the a lower level of excitement, resembling contentment or happiness. Adjust the dial in your imagination to whatever level feels comfortable to you.

(Pause)

Now imagine a new dial, one that begins with a feeling of interest, going up to apprehension, and then to fear.

Imagine turning up the dial slightly, creating a feeling of interest. Imagine what it feels like to be interested. Now move the dial up even higher, imagining a feeling of apprehension. Good. Stay with this uncomfortable feeling, noticing that you are fully in control and you are able to tolerate the discomfort.

Now turn the dial even higher, toward fear. Turn the dial as high as you can tolerate, imagining the feelings of fear. Notice that the feeling does not hurt you. You are in control. You can adjust this feeling. Retraining your brain. Retraining the Amygdala.

When you experience feelings of fear in the future, the feeling of fear causes you to examine the environment around you to look for danger, and if no danger is present, you relax.

Go ahead now and think about your environment. Is any danger present? No. So go ahead and turn the fear dial down...down...down...because there is no danger to react to. The fear is not needed right now. Turn the dial down until you feel neutral, calm, and relaxed.

(Pause)

Notice that you have imagined feelings of anxiety and fear, and you have been in control of these feelings.

Whenever you experience the physical sensations of anxiety or fear, you are in control. You can imagine turning down a dial to decrease the feelings to a comfortable level. You can retrain your brain, retraining the Amygdala to respond in a different way.

The level of arousal in your brain may have been set too high, leaving you in a frequent state of anxiety, fear, or fatigue. You are learning how to re-set this level, retraining the Amygdala, so you can achieve a neutral level of arousal, and respond to situations in a calm way.

(Pause)

Allow your body and mind to completely relax now...

Gently squeeze your right thumb to trigger the relaxation response. It feels so good to relax. So pleasantly and deeply relaxed and calm.

(Pause)

Imagine the two dials again...one for excitement and anxiety, the other for interest and fear.

You can control these dials. They may have been set too high, or they may be fine just where they are. Look at the excitement and anxiety dial first. Go ahead and adjust the level to wherever you are comfortable, perhaps somewhere in the lower range.

Now look at the interest and fear dial. Go ahead and adjust this dial to a comfortable level, somewhere in the lower range, signifying comfortable, contented, interested feelings.

The situations you encounter day to day cause only moderate changes in the settings of these dials, and the excitement and interest dials both return to low, comfortable levels after each situation occurs. You adjust the levels as needed to keep yourself comfortable, rational, and in control.

You can practice adjusting the levels of your emotions and neurological arousal each day, to learn to habitually experience low, comfortable levels of physiological arousal and to modulate the brain’s response to situations.

Take a few moments simply to relax...to allow your mind to drift...to absorb what you have accomplished with this retraining the Amygdala exercise.

(Pause)

You have now completed part two of this retraining the Amygdala relaxation script. I will now count to three. When I reach three you are completely awake, alert, and calm...ready to return to your day.

One...

Two...

Three...

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