I'm pretty sure, that for most of us, when we observe animals, either wild in Nature, or in captivity at a zoo, we are struck with how instinctual they are, how "automatic" their responses are, and when a threat is perceived (whether there is an actual one or not), they either flee, or make a stand to fight.
We notice this in animals because we have the same mechanism brought to us by our ancient reptilian brain. Located at the base of the skull, this is the first part of the brain to develop, and is the oldest evolutionary part of the overall organ we call the brain. Every "knee-jerk reaction", or automatic, unthinking response we have to our perceived experiences has been expressed by the reptilian "fight or flight" brain.
What switches us over to that ancient part of our brain is stress. True stress creates automatic responses, feelings, impulses, urges, that are seemingly out of our control. This is by design, apparently, as it is hard-wired into our endocrine and nervous systems, and can cause a myriad of changes in our body--all with the purpose of fighting or getting out of the way.
The thing is that although the body is hard-wired into the reptilian brain, it is not designed to remain in a fight-or-flight state. Constant stress, such as conflict in relationship, or at our jobs, or in active military combat, wears down the body's ability to repair itself, and makes it susceptible to disease and breakdown.
"To transcend those physical limitations (of the reptilian brain), we must find within ourselves that place that is not limited, not physical--which is not programmed in reaction-response that keeps us in fight or flight. In order to transcend that, we want to transcend the reptilian brain, which is the hind brain, the oldest brain--which is programmed to respond to fear, pain, negative expectations, sense of loss, betrayal, anger--survival-based programs. When we can transcend the limitations of our survival-based programming, we can begin to expand our consciousness beyond the expectations set, and still achieve our dreams. To achieve our dreams it is helpful to let go of the need for them to show up in a certain way." --Dr. Richard Bartlett, Matrix Energetics
Finding that "clear space", that space of no thought that finds us floating in a sea of enfolding love and support, is the skill of transcendence. It is also the space of repair and healing after the reptilian brain has "blown out the energetic fuses" of the body, leaving it weak and exhausted. Bodies were never intended to live exclusively on adrenaline and cortisol, and when they are forced to, misalignment, dysfunction, disease and early death follow.
It is imperative, therefore, to find that transcendent place. The comforting part is that it is always available to us--always there waiting to enfold us in loving warmth. Call it angelic, god, higher self--this place is within all of us, yet we tend to discount its value. The stresses of our experiences seem so real, so immediate, so demanding of action, that we forget the damage prolonged exposure to that reptilian state causes.
It is absolutely vital and required that we do everything we can to re-access our inner transcendent place when we become aware of stress responses. This allows the body to recover from the nitro-endocrine chemicals that act like jet fuel throughout the body, burning up reserves at a severe cost.
Establish a time during the day or night when you can sit in silence and comfort and access that inner peace place. It usually takes some time to get there, depending on stress levels, but know that the more often this peaceful state is accessed, the faster and more easily it shows up--just like any skill--the more you use it, the more accessible it is.
Find out what your personal "gateway" to this state is, whether it be through meditation, music, breathing, bathing, or all. Your body will thank you, and that stressful life you keep living will start to become less and less stressful.