Investigate the body.
Create the necessary conditions for safety and connection.
This is polyvagal theory.
Our nervous system is a thread of nerves that comprises of three main systems related to the vagus nerve (“Polyvagal”).
Polyvagal theory is an approach to therapy that acknowledges the autonomic nervous system is shaped by our early experiences and reshaped with on-going experiences.
I incorporate polyvagal theory in the work that I do and it is foundational for the principles of “Bodyfulness” and “Grounding Grief®“.
Stress & Anxiety = Dysregulation of our Nervous System
Truly combating stress & anxiety for the long haul can only be done when we regulate our nervous system. We must then commit to a life that is caring for our precious nervous system and frequently checking in (Bodyfulness). Treat it as if you’ve just been given a new born baby to take care. Clear some time in your schedule.
Where I help people is teaching them how they can use art, writing, and movement as on-going tools to regulate the nervous system.
First we investigate the body.
We use art, writing, and movement to communicate our findings.
Then we begin generative practices that reshape our autonomic nervous system and re-wire our brain for safety and connection.
These generative practices can be art, writing, and movement exercises.
Art is, of course, a tool of self-expression and communication that supports experiences and emotions in a safe way. Writing brings together cognitive, emotion, theory, imagination, and systems.
“Making visual art has been shown to have an impact on resilience and is a way to play with the inner world, and share experiences of self.” (Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 client-facing practices, Deb Dana, 2020).
Movement supports self-awareness and body acquaintance. When movement is done barefoot in nature, the nervous system can co-regulate with its surroundings.
I have discovered that there are amazing benefits to using a mirror as the body can use its own reflection to co-regulate.
Other humans, such as your partner or spouse, or pets of course are wonderful creatures to use for co-regulation but remember your own independence and duty to self-soothe.
And why do we need to investigate the state of our nervous system, anyway?
- Consider what you reach for to soothe yourself in times of stress, conflict, or anxiety.
- Consider the level of trust you have that your body can keep you safe.
- Consider what parts of your body hold the stories of your past.