Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsDR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsRICHARD CHAMBERS: Welcome to week two of the course. This week we're going to look at the relationship between default mode and stress-- specifically when our attention wanders off into default mode it tends to get caught up in problem solving, since this is what the brain is largely designed to do. And at times this means constructive planning, remembering, and thinking through what is happening. But it often means that we get caught up in worrying, dwelling, obsessing, and quite caught up in judgement and self-criticism. And when this happens outside of our awareness, we unconsciously trigger the fight and flight response chronically throughout the day.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsAnd in the absence of a physical threat to neutralise or escape from, this becomes a stress response and causes wear and tear on the body, as well as impairing our performance. Mindfulness helps us to recognise the stress response. And once we've noticed that it's been triggered, we can start reengaging our attention with what's actually happening in the present, rather than continuing to worry or dwell or react. And when we learn to notice the subtle changes to our breathing, or the characteristic patterns of tension and discomfort in our body when we're in a stress response, we can start to recognise that we're having that reaction and catch it early before it's taken hold of us.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsAnd the earlier we catch it, of course, the more likely it is that we'll be able to reengage our attention with what's actually happening in the present, and disengage from the stress reaction. This week we're going to explore what the fight and flight response is, why it happens, and how to recognise it. We will explore when it is useful-- when it's an activation response-- and when it's not-- when it's a stress response. We're going to explore the effects of stress responses on our health and well-being, and also on our performance. For instance, its impact on brain functioning, memory, learning, and relationships.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 secondsWe're going to learn how to use mindfulness to recognise the stress response, and reduce its impact by bringing our attention back to the present. We're also going to explore two central qualities of mindfulness-- curiosity and gentleness. And we can cultivate both of these with practise. And doing so tends to have a very positive effect on our lives, as we'll see. Finally, we're going to introduce the informal practises of mindfulness. And this refers to bringing qualities of attention, engagement, and curiosity to everyday activities, such as eating, travelling, working, communicating. Informal practises help us take mindfulness off the cushion, so to speak, and integrate it more fully into our lives so that we can start being more mindful in each moment.

Introduction to week 2

Watch Richard explain the fight/flight response, why it happens, and how to recognise it, and when it is useful (the “activation response”) and when it is not (the “stress response”).

In this video Richard also:

  • explores the effects of stress responses on our health and wellbeing, and also our performance, for instance its impact on brain functioning, memory, learning and relationships.

  • explains how to use mindfulness to recognise the stress response and reduce its impact by bringing our attention back to the present.

Talking point

Within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners your experiences with the fight/flight response. How do you recognise your response, and what do you do about it?

Remember to only share things that you’re happy for others to read in an open forum.

You might like to take some time to read comments made by other learners, and if you find these comments interesting, respond to them. Remember you can also ‘like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.


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This video is from the free online course:

Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance

Monash University

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