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Introducing CPR for the Amygdala and Self-Havening - Tools for Immediate Anxiety & Stress Relief

CPR for the Amygdala is an easy-to-use tool for calming the mind and body in a moment of emotional hijack. Watch this short video and learn how to calm your brain through the engagement of the self-havening touch and brain exercises. This video involves a short demonstration that highlights the impact of the delta wave presence on brain functioning. A fast brain is a reactive brain, a slow brain is a calm brain. Let’s calm the mind and put you back in charge of your emotional state. You can also go to our full CPR for the Amygdala Playlist by clicking here.

A Havening Techniques Guided Meditation to SNAP the Brain Out of Anxiety

In this meditation, Dr. Kate Truitt guides us through a practice for the Havening Techniques CPR for the Amygdala S.N.A.P. Protocol in order to help with generalized anxiety. As always, she begins by asking us to welcome in face havening, palm havening, and/or arm havening to help us deepen this experience.

She asks us to sense inward and give yourself a rank from 0-10 on how our mind and body are feeling. Once we have that rank, Dr. Kate asks us to welcome in havening touch and some guided breathwork in order to calm down our amygdala.

She asks us to once again sense into our state of being and give yourself another rank. If there is still energy present above a 2, she invites us to welcome in the havening touch and preoccupy our brain. She suggests thinking of 3 items that are green, 4 items that are blue, 5 items that are yellow. Then she asks us to identify 3 things with a citrus taste, a minty taste, and a floral experience.

A Therapy Tool Using Neuroplasticity & Journaling to Release Negativity

Dr. Kate Truitt illustrates to us that Amy the amygdala likes to chew on concerns and considerations, especially since her number one job is to work hard to keep us alive. Amy has two primary impacts on the way our brain is functioning: stress-based and thrive state.

Next, Dr. Kate goes on to explain that when we are in a ruminating loop, this is Amy trying to answer one of three questions. Are you safe? Are you lovable? Can you be successful? CPR for the Amygdala and breath work can help our brain and body regulate, soother, and calm down, stopping the ruminating loop. This break can create space for us to get curious about what’s happening beneath the ruminating thoughts.

She suggests that we utilize the Left- and Right-Handed Journaling Exercise. In this exercise, our dominant hand is emulating our thinking brain, and our non-dominant hand is going to be expressing fears and worries. Dr. Kate recommends beginning by asking Amy what’s going on, and then switching hands to answer that question.

A Breathing Exercise for Decreasing Stress

In this video, you will learn a technique for regulating your system, and bringing your parasympathetic nervous system into the present moment. Dr. Kate explains that we want it present because stress makes it more sensitive. She describes this as us being more “sympathetic to threat,” our brain wants us to stay alive. (Dr. Kate notes that our Amygdala is the one that is in charge of this).

Then she goes on to mention that many of the stressors in our day-to-day life are not actual threats to our survival, though our system can still struggle to decrease its sensitivity to them. And as stress spreads, it can lead to activation/vulnerability to future stressors.

Dr. Kate explains that the topic of this video is based on findings by Jack Feldman, a researcher from UCLA who is studying the biomechanics of breath and identified an opportunity to downregulate our system in 40 seconds or less.

This technique is called “Sigh Breath Practice.” She notes that it is taking advantage of the fact that humans are naturally predisposed to sigh automatically. Dr. Kate states that, if we harness these sighs, we can more rapidly change the way our system is functioning, and even regulate our heart rate. Dr. Kate encourages you to practice this “Double Sigh Breath” 3 to 4 times in a row whenever you feel stressed or distracted.

Learning to SNAP Your Way Out of the Grip of Generalized Anxiety

By Dr. Kate Truitt

Did you know that the experience of anxiety is a part of daily life? Like all of our emotions, it exists to alert us concerns so that we may take action and create change. Generalized anxiety, on the other hand, is just there in the forefront—consistently ever-present.

Generalized Anxiety is Diffuse and Profuse

One of the greatest difficulties living with generalized anxiety is how diffuse and profuse it can be. When we suffer from generalized anxiety it can feel like we are unable to control our worry and stress over countless issues swirling around us at the same time—finances, family, work issues, health and more.

With generalized anxiety it may feel like our entire mind and body system is riddled with distress and disturbance. The anxiety frequently feels like it seeping from our mind and into our bodies. Luckily, with some small tweaks, our CPR for the AmygdalaÒ protocol becomes a powerful ally for your healing journey.

Remember that CPR for the Amygdala stands for “Creating Personal Resilience for the Amygdala.” It incorporates the soothing, healing touch of self-havening with engaging our brain in distractions—cognitive games that serve to give our brain another job to do, disrupting the ruminating or trauma-informed loop that is causing our brain and body to feel distressed.

If you would like to become more familiar with CPR for the Amygdala and/or self-havening, there are links to an introductory video and even our full CPR for the Amygdala playlist in the first item of the sidebar to this article.

Using the SNAP CPR for the Amygdala Protocol

The slight tweak I am talking about is called the SNAP CPR for the Amygdala protocol. It involves inviting the awareness that our entire system is carrying that generalized anxiety energy and that’s OK. We are seeking to SNAP Amy the amygdala out of her survival-based focus to help us not just survive but thrive. SNAP stands for:


Let’s walk through each of these:

Sense: As I mentioned before, when we are living with generalized anxiety it can feel like it is ever-present, but that is OK. Part of the process of recovering from generalized anxiety is noticing the experience in our brain and our body and turning attentional awareness to the discomfort. I realize it might be difficult to lean even further into feeling discomfort but doing so is critical in order to snap the system out of it once we sense into it.

Notice. Taking that sensing one step deeper, notice what is happening in your mind and body right now. Then, as you are noticing the stress or disturbance, notice if there is a particular energy—a thought or emotion—that is calling for you to pay attention. If you find one, that is great—turn your attention to it. If you can’t find one, just take notice of your entire mind-body system and then on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being totally freaking out and 0 being neutral, rate yourself with a number somewhere along that scale.

Apply. Once you have that ranking in your mind, begin applying the havening touch and then preoccupy your brain.

For those who are not familiar with self-havening methods let’s go through a little practice. There are four touches involved:

  1. In the first touch you simply rub the palms of your hands together as if washing them.
  2. Think of the second touch as giving yourself a nice, soothing hug. Begin with crossed arms, your hands on opposite shoulders, and then move your hands, repeatedly and slowly, down your upper arms to your elbows.
  3. The third touch is a like gentle facial massage, starting with your hands together over your nose and then smoothly and gently guiding them over your cheeks from the middle outward with your fingers.
  4. The fourth touch is also on your face using the same inward-to-outward motion, but this time moving your hands over your forehead, just above your eyebrows.


(Image from Truitt, 2022)

If your motions seem a little uncoordinated, try reversing the order of the four touches with five repetitions of each touch—starting with the forehead five times, then moving down to your cheeks, then to your shoulders, and then ending with your hands. Then start over again. Most people find an order that suits them best, along with slight variations for different situations.

Preoccupy. The preoccupying process could be as simple as counting your breath, such as we do in the Breathing Exercise for Decreasing Stress, which is in the sidebar of this article—breathing in and out through different iterations, such as breathing in for a count of 3 and out for 5, then in for 4 and then out for 6 and so on. Our brain and body love oxygen, so this exercise is an excellent way to preoccupation while you are applying the havening touch. Other ways to preoccupy include going through every color of the rainbow and thinking of three things in your environment or in your imagination that are represented by each of those colors. You might also do one of my favorites, which is naming bands or artists using every letter of the alphabet from A to Z while applying the self-havening touch.

Creating a New Framework Around Your Anxiety

The most important thing to remember is that we are giving our brain a new job that is neutral or even playful or fun. Once you have done at least three preoccupying brain games, check back in and Sense, Notice, and rate yourself again on that 0 to 10 scale to get another number for yourself. Then, depending on where you are on the scale, Apply and Preoccupy.

If you are below a 2 on that scale then you are ready to welcome in a new framework!  Creating a new framework around your anxiety and worry can change your view of yourself and the world around you. This can be as simple as changing the wording you use. We often start off statements about us in relation to the world with “I am.” These are known as self-statements and can get in the way of us taking positive, healing actions. Shifting your language slightly can change the framework.

When you find yourself saying “I am anxious,” try this instead: “I am feeling anxiety.”

Or, instead of saying “I am a failure,” say: “I failed at that (test, event, proposal, or whatever it is)”. For an added bonus, remind yourself that the word F.A.I.L. also stands or First Attempt In Learning!

What you are doing in that simple change of verbiage is shifting the narrative in your brain from labeling yourself as something negative to describing your experiences and feelings. You are giving yourself an opportunity to move past anxiety or on to the next challenge, rather than having the anxiety or failure define you.

Remember that Amy the amygdala is great at telling us stories of fear and spreading them so they generalize and become ever-present in our minds and bodies. So, we want to help her calm down and heal, while also building a new system, or framework, for Amy to connect into.

For more detail on the SNAP CPR for the Amygdala protocol, see the Havening Techniques Guided Meditation to SNAP the Brain out of Anxiety video in the sidebar of this article.

Happy healing!