Sacred Relationship Week Three
A quick review:
Week one’s takeaways and journal assignment:
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 Are you aware of any triggers you have that make you feel fearful, withdrawn, or protective when you are around others?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.
Week two’s takeaways and journal assignment:
We explored the Polyvagal Theory:
The vagus nerve consists of efferent (sending) and afferent (receiving) fibers that run from the brainstem down to the internal organs, providing activation for everything from the neck down to the G spot. It is part of the Central Nervous System, and part of the 12 cranial nerves.
The two pathways that we are interested in as we study Sacred Relationship, is Ventral Vagal and Dorsal Vagal.
Ventral Vagal allows us to engage in social interactions. It allows us to connect. Dorsal vagal is just the opposite. It shuts us down as a protection (freeze) response.
We also explored the sympathetic nervous system response to a threat/stress which produces a flight or flight reaction. The adrenals mobilize us while the dorsal vagal response immobilizes us.
We also learned that “state drives story.” And, we learned about ACES, adverse childhood events and how they played a role in the development of our brain and our nervous system.
- Can you tell when you are calm in your mind/body so that you can connect with others on a meaningful level?
- What causes you to move into either dorsal vagal or trigger an adrenal reaction?
- Can you see how we need to become conscious of nervous system responses so that we can change our state to ventral vagal when we are feeling a false positive threat?
Now, Let’s begin week three.
The Mighty VM PFC
We’ve been focusing on the “problem” of our ability to love: our nervous system reactions to (usually false positive) threats that push us out of our default state of ventral vagal and into dorsal vagal or sympathetic reactions. This week we will begin looking at solutions as to how we can strengthen our ability to become “Threat Detection Ninjas” so that we can better resist being pushed around by our nervous system!
First, let’s look at a paradox that might keep us a bit stuck unless we make an effort to overcome it.
Think of this area as behind the bindi spot, or the Third Eye.
You can see that we really need to have a good functioning ventromedial prefrontal cortex! It is like our internal Jiminy Cricket. It is the “braking system” so to speak for our acting out, impulse control, etc. This is the region of the brain that if it is properly integrated with the threat detection region (the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala) we can have better control over our reactions and AVOID GOING INTO DORSAL VAGAL OR SYMPATHETIC responses that shift us away from love, from connection.
But, here is the paradox:
If we don’t have a strong Vm PFC we can’t develop it to where it will better fend off our impulsive and oftentimes unhealthy reactions/actions. So, what do we do? We engage.connect with safe people (and we engage in activities that restore our nervous system to homeostasis).
When we reside more in safety, our brains will create more connections to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and integration with our threat detection center (the central nucleus of the amygdala). When we hang out with people who are trustworthy and make us feel safe, our brains will respond.
We can also explore these activities to improve the connection and integration between the VM PFC and the CeA:
Learn a second language
Explore lucid dreaming
Ask someone to be our external “hard drive” while we work through issues
Learn soothing breathing patterns
Be of service to others
Address explicit and implicit Adverse Childhood Event memories
And you can try this:
Other things help us “beef up” our Vm PFC. Non-sexual touch (soothing massage), PLAY, gardening, etc. There are many things that we can do to help our brains grow and develop and organize optimally WITH LOVE.
Remember, LOVE is our default state in our brain/nervous system. It is there that we can be our very best. We can be the person that God intended for us to be.
- What can you bring into your life that will help you strengthen your ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex and it’s connection and integration with the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala? Prayer? Yoga? Singing? Service to others?
- What other things do you imagine would help build a stronger Vm PFC?