Use this technique when you need to think fast.

You are running from a saber-toothed tiger. It has its fangs bared. It is hungry. It is fast. You are running with all your might. You see a tree and you see a river. You think you can catch the lowest branch, then shimmy up to the very top of the tree. You forget that the tiger is a cat and it can climb trees. The river is farther away, but maybe you should run there. You can’t remember if cats like water or not.

Or … you are hiking up a mountain. You have your snowboard on your back. You are bootpacking up a trail and are almost to the top of a very high peak. Snow is falling all around you, and it has been falling for days. The avalanche danger is high, but the possibility for deep, untracked powder turns is also high. Your pulse is pumping. You’re excited beyond belief. This is your first day off this year, and it’s a powder day.

Or … you’re driving in the car in the rain. The roads are slick and slippery. You’re racing to get to the theater where your 10-your-old is playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” You had to finish up a file at work, and now you’re late and every red light that was ever born seems to be hatching in front of you. You step on the gas hard and hydroplane. Your heart jumps into your throat as you frantically pump the brakes, twist the wheel and try to remember what you’re supposed to do when this happens!

In situation No. 1, the risk is being alive in dangerous times. The reward is staying alive.

In situation No. 2, the risk is being killed in an avalanche. The reward is the best powder turns of your life.

In situation No. 3, the risk is getting into a major accident. The reward is watching your daughter sing “Over the Rainbow” in a blue checked gingham dress.

How do you make a decision or action when every single cell of your body is flooded with adrenaline, cortisol and all the stress hormones you can create? How do you think clearly when your whole body is straining, every impulse is in full fight or flight survival mode?

There is an energy system that is responsible for this fight or flight mode and it’s called triple warmer. It wants to keep you alive, and it is one of the most powerful energy systems in the body. The problem with triple warmer is that it has not evolved beyond the saber-toothed-tiger days, when your actual survival really was a daily challenge. So it sees many challenges you face in that same light. You get cut off in traffic: ALERT! Your computer crashes before you saved the best short story you ever wrote: ALERT! Your best friend just told you she is so mad at you that she never wants to see you again: ALERT!

How can you possibly manage to live a calm and balanced life, let alone heal what’s ailing you and be a creative successful person, if you’re constantly battling stress hormones. Well, the truth is you can’t. And that is how most of us live: in a low-grade or a high-grade fight or flight response. We simply cannot go on living these stress-filled lives and expect to thrive.

No matter how many massages, green smoothies, yoga classes or meditation recordings you get, if you don’t know how to manage your stress, you aren’t able to optimize your life.

The beauty of Energy Medicine Yoga is that it offers simple tools to work with triple warmer to start re-educating your body to calm. You learn how to communicate with your body so that getting cut off in traffic doesn’t elicit a dumping of cortisol into your blood. You learn how to be present and responsive to situations instead of fearful and reactive.

This comes in especially handy when you really are face to face with that tiger or that avalanche or that traffic disaster. When you need to be on full alert, you want that to be a distinctively different place energetically than when you just need to be more aware.

So here’s what to do:

During a situation that seems to be getting out of hand, or escalating, during a time when you are in a risky situation and need to stay calm, there are a couple of simple things you can do to speak to your body’s triple warmer.

  1. Put two or three fingers in the hollow at the base of your throat. This helps calm down the emotions connected to the stressful situation so you can see more clearly. I use this constantly. Whenever a situation comes up that starts to raise my pulse, I “plug in” to this triple warmer point to bring the boil down to a low simmer.
  2. Put one hand over your forehead, as if you’re taking your temperature. This is one of the most powerful things you can do when stress or any emotional turmoil starts to overtake you. What it does is help keep blood in your forebrain—instead of the blood rushing from your brain to prepare you to fight or flee. This helps you to think creatively and act intelligently.

Usually, it only takes a few moments for your energy to calm down and regulate. Then you can see the situation clearly and understand what the right course of action is. From this place, you are in control of your own situation instead of being a victim of the tiger!

Photo credit: babaroga, Adobe Stock