Sacred Relationship is the knowledge and belief that all of life is sacred and should be revered and respected. Sacred relationship is our true default state. It is the state in which we come into this world. It is the state where we are our most healthy, happy, successful self.
We are born to connect with one another. It is a biological imperative. Our brains are hardwired for connection and need connection to others in order to develop and organize optimally
Without connection, we die. Literally.
Unhealthy connection, (relationships/encounters that make us feel threatened/unsafe) harm us on every level of our humanity. They damage our brain and our nervous system.
In healthy relationships based on respect, trust, and love, (safety) our brains and our bodies flourish.
When we have respectful, loving relationships in our lives, we are healthier, happier, and more able to make our way in the world. The good news is that even if we have experienced trauma or abuse growing up or in our lives, or any type of perceived threat that diminished our brain, we can rewire our brain and heal our nervous system so that we are able to be healthy, happy, and make our way in the world
An introduction to the brain
The brain begins its development in utero. Many important things happened before you were even born. At birth, your brain development took off, growing from the back to the front, creating new neural real estate and connections based on what you encountered. At birth, all brains, your’s included, are hardwired to “ask” (of everything and everyone around it) what is called The Big Brain Question. That question is simply, “Am I Safe?” When your brain perceived safety, (a yes answer) it was able to develop and organize optimally. If your brain perceived too many threats (no answers), your brain developed and organized sub-optimally. And that means life may be harder in many ways.
If your brain hasn’t had the opportunity to develop and organize optimally, you may have to work harder at establishing Sacred Relationships. But learning about the brain and the nervous system, as you are now, goes a long way in righting all the “wrongs” done to your brain!
If you want to view a “no” in action, and it’s the profound effect is has upon an infant, watch this video. You begin to understand how subtle the “nos’ may have been in your development, but how profound they were on your neurphysiology and your brain development.
The science of safety.
Dr. Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal theory is known as the “Science of Safety.” The science of feeling safe enough to engage in life and to love all of life. Polyvagal theory explains how the autonomic nervous system works to shape our ability for connection. And remember, we are hardwired for connection. It is our sacred birthright. And it helps us to stay healthy and happy.
The autonomic nervous system responds to our life experiences by telling us not who we are, or what we are, but how we are. It manages risk and changes our physiological state in response to what we encounter.
The ANS responds to cues of safety, danger, or life-threats from the world around us, within our own bodies, and in our connection to others below our conscious awareness. This is called neuroception and it is different from conscious perception.
Getting more “no” answers to our Big Brain Question, as determined by neuroception or perception, as we grew up, interrupts the process of building the ANS’ circuitry of healthy connection and harms the development of regulation and resilience.
How we maneuver through the world rests in part on our ANS. And supportive, co-regulating relationships help and strengthen our ANS. (The Yes answer to the BBQ) while relationships of disrespect and mistreatment wire our ANS so that we become slaves to a highjacked nervous system, focused on survival (managing threats) instead of masters at connection, relaxation, and enjoyment.
In a nutshell.
The take away for this week is to understand that from birth your brain and nervous system has been shaped by your experiences. How well you connect with others has been determined to date, by things mostly out of your control and under the radar of your consciousness.
But now, with learning, and some practice, you can rewire your brain and your nervous system so that you experience more health, happiness, and success. More connection.
1. Think back to your childhood. Did you feel safe or not? Write down a few experiences that sum up your childhood. Explain how they made you feel.
2. Are you aware of any triggers you have that make you feel fearful, withdrawn, or protective when you are around others? Write a few examples.
3. Choose someone that you feel safe around. Someone you can trust to tell them who you really are. What is it that they do that allows you to feel safe and trusting? Write a few examples of encounters that you’ve had with them that made you feel safe.