Let me describe what happens in performance anxiety, fear of speaking in public and in stage fright. Perhaps you will recognize some of this from your own experience. As human beings, we have a very sensitive central nervous system, especially along the spinal column where we have several energy centers where nerves bundle together to create nerve ganglia. When we become the center of attention, powerful sensations and feelings get stirred in the Central Nervous System. The body is flooded with feelings, sensation and emotional intensity that can feel uncomfortable, maybe even out of control. We who have stage fright do not know how to contain and express that much emotional energy or passion. It often overwhelms us. It seems so out of control that we turn it against ourselves and shut ourselves down. To shut down the intensity, we shift energy and attention into our heads so we can avoid the bodily-felt sensations that are so uncomfortable. We literally “go into our heads”. From the neck down, we tighten the body in order to freeze the flow of feelings. If the body gets tight enough, it will start to shake to try to re-establish flow of life force into the body parts that are too tense. When this “going into the head” happens, there is an inner split of attention. The inner split is caused because the mind is judging the body and feelings as bad and wrong. The mind wants to stay in control and look perfect, so the mental part of our human nature withdraws from the physical and emotional aspects. We feel split off from ourselves. In the split, we are no longer whole and integrated. This creates a kind of out of body experience. We sort of leave the body – in the sense that our attention can’t stay present in the body below the neck. We feel spacey, ungrounded, not present. In this dis-integrated state, we can’t think clearly. We can’t be effective. There is so much static inside our bodies that it distracts us from thinking clearly and from delivering the message, singing the song or sharing our ideas. That is it. That is what happens in stage fright, fear of public speaking and performance anxiety. In an upcoming post, I will discuss the antidote to stage fright.