When Caught in The Trance of Fear

As we sat down last Sunday for chakra flow, I was happy to see so many students on their mats.

In times of uncertainty, when it feels like we are not SAFE, no matter where we go, we have a choice. And this choice might naturally feel like one simple option: get yourself out of this situation.

We are born with one strong instinct: to survive. And we develop a relationship to this instinct with different strategies depending on what we experience throughout our first years on this earth.

We learn that the world is a very safe place or we learn that we need to be very vigilant and on our guard most of the time. Later on in life, whenever our survival instinct is triggered, we will use the strategies that we have learned, that we have stored deep down inside our subconscious mind so that they become automatic. That way we need not to think about what to do in an emergency.

This is all well and good when we have the possibility to unload the very strong charge we experience as adrenaline is running through our veins. But if the survival mode stays active in a more constant way, it becomes detrimental to us. It begins to work against our actual survival.

This is why yoga can be your antidote for the trance of fear.

When we are triggered, we switch on our parasympathetic mode of the nervous system which is also translated into “fight/flight or freeze”. The instinct to run away or to attack is something we are all familiar with, both theoretically and in real life. But the freeze function we might not comprehend. Easily imagined: it’s what the rat does when the cat has already caught it but it’s pretending to be dead so that it’s predator will lose interest and turn it’s attention elsewhere.

When we are caught in the trance of fear, we are stuck in the fear zone and we are basically waiting for the danger to be over. This can last a long time.

What happens when we freeze?

We put our emotions on hold.

We disconnect from our physical body.

We close up our hearts and bring the full focus to the mind, the thoughts.

We disengage with other people.


The more we freeze, the more the world seems artificial. How could it not? We are not in touch with anything in it anymore.

With the mind on full on mode, we do not trust what our emotions are telling us at all. And we don’t even really feel what the body is saying either. We become a head. Like one single head with a carton bubble above it saying “bla, bla, bla…”.


When you are on fear mode, the body is not concerned with making your blood circulate, or digest your food or even having your hormones produce properly. Your all over health declines.

You might experience lack of sleep, over eating or not eating. You withdraw from other people, even though our biggest need for survival is really to belong.

You become a target for sickness.


This is why I was so happy to see so many yogis on their mats on Sunday.

In times of uncertainty, we can choose to turn within.

We can choose to stay connected to the group, to find strength in BELONGING.

We can create a safe place for ourselves on the mat and take the activity down, from the mind, into the body and the heart. This will calm down the nervous system and make us come out of the  trance of fear.

Because your body was made to be self sustainable.

Because you were meant to heal yourself.

But you need to trust the process.

And it starts with calming the mind.

We do that beautifully in yoga as we move the body to open the energy channels.

As we focus the busy mind on the breath and follow it’s rhythm when we open and close, twist and release.