Some nervous system basics, relevant to our work together:
A healthy nervous system can regulate. It shifts easily between activated states and calm states, and has safeguards against getting too activated or too slowed down.
A healthy nervous system will jump you up to handle the pot of spaghetti boiling over, and then settle down again. It does what it needs to do, and then returns to “relaxed and ready.”
An injured nervous system is chronically dysregulated. It has lost the ability to shift easily, or at all. It stays activated after handling the spaghetti. And then activates more in response to a stressful text, and yet more again with a thought about a problem at work.
The experience of dysregulation can feeling like being on-edge, overwhelmed, irritable, reactive, stuck or depleted. You might be very sensitive to sensory stimuli, unable to concentrate, have difficulty sleeping, or have pain or health problems.
Being dysregulated sucks. Why would our nervous systems do this to us? Because survival is your nervous system’s highest priority. For your nervous system, it's more important to stay alive than it is to feel good.
When your nervous system perceives a threat, it initiates a physical response in the body. This threat response is a cycle we go through countless times in our lives. Ideally, the threat response has a beginning, middle, and end, where the actions summoned by the threat response are successful, we survive, the nervous system activation runs its course, and we return to “relaxed and ready”.
However, it’s possible to get overwhelmed during the cycle, leaving the nervous system stuck in part of the cycle—stuck in an ever-present and unfinished threat response. This is dysregulation, an injury in the nervous system.
Fortunately, we can work with the body to help an injured nervous system learn to regulate again.There is a lot of momentum in your physiology to complete unfinished cycles of nervous system activation. The body really wants to do this. But it’s hard to find the way on your own, from within an injured nervous system—since an injured nervous system is tuned to notice danger and problems, and to disregard anything that is not dangerous. It literally can’t perceive a pathway to calm without some outside help.
In nervous system sessions, I guide your attention to sensations in your body, and we use what you sense, along with simple movements, to help your nervous system shift towards a “relaxed and ready” state.
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