We live in a world that trains us to feel disconnected, fearful, and disempowered. Religion, politics, and the educational system are systems of control through fear. Our beliefs become patterned, built around protection. Living in a chronic state of protection prevents us from broadening our sense of humanity.
The potential of individuals can only be realized in a context of safety. Can you imagine schools that offer environments that make our children feel safe? With teachers who have time to truly listen, to offer cues of safety such as vocal intonation, positive facial expression, and gentle touch? Can you imagine a place where kids truly want to go? To play, to create, to sing, to dance, to talk about what's really going on in their lives?
Unfortunately, many of our elementary schools have thrown out art, physical education, and recess in exchange for laptops, "academics," and for greater time spent in preparation for tests.
Apparently, the drive to dismantle the jungle gyms of America is in response to Common Core examinations, according to Arthur Caplan. Dr. Stephen Porges, author of The Polyvagal Theory, emphasizes the importance of time for play and stresses the fact that "we have to have a place to go that is safe." With a sense of safety we can express our innate human desire for uncertainty.
Uncertainty is something that all human beings, and animals, crave.
However, we can only truly crave uncertainty when there's safety in the background. For example, a dog likes to play; he likes uncertainty, but he can only really play when he's reassured that you won't be aggressive. Similarly, babies love to play games like "peek-a-boo." This game proves to be fun, however, only when there's a clear sense of trust and when the child knows it's playful, that it's safe to "play."
Dr. Porges recommends inserting neural exercises such as playing wind instruments, singing, and lots of free play into the curriculum. By doing so, he says we can change our physiology, our health, and our sense of connection. Our children can grow and allow their creativity to enhance all of humanity with a background of safety. Essentially, Dr. Porges is telling us to shut our textbooks, to be cautious of our language as words can distort meaning and makes understanding difficult. We must, instead, learn how to listen to our nervous systems, listen to what our bodies are telling us. When the nervous system is safe, it promotes the ability to engage socially, supports positive affective experiences, relationship building, and opportunities for spirituality.
Porges calls this neuroception, the idea that our neural receptors are always picking up a sense of safety or risk, and this is not occurring on an aware level. We are constantly being informed by our nervous system, by our gut, by our physiology, whether we feel comfortable or whether we should prepare to fight or flee. But we are conditioned to overlook ourselves in school. We learn to distrust the self and instead are forced to rely upon outdated, irrelevant, dispassionate external sources to guide us.
Basically, when we are with people who make us feel safe, we feel good and feeling good shifts our physiological state - especially at the heart center.
Some examples of what makes us feel good:
Sound. It's no revelation that melodic music makes us feel good. Female vocals, Gregorian chants, Disney songs all have melody and thus affect our frequency. Sound frequency enters through the ear, is sent up to the cortex, and then travels back down to the middle ear -- to the muscles that regulate and change our facial muscles. When we hear melodic music, we feel love and a sense of trust and when we hear dissonant or cacophonous music, we may want to march and fight.
Breath. Long out breaths help calm the nervous system. Playing a wind instrument, like the clarinet, allows inhalation, followed by an exaggerated exhalation, while listening or paying attention to tone. Similarly, Yoga, particularly pranayama yoga, focuses on the breath and exercises the facial muscles. It is at the middle ear where we integrate the striated muscles of the face with the heart. The middle ear houses nerves that are shared with our face. A flat face indicates a middle ear with weak muscle tone.
Facial expression, which expresses a heart connection through the vagus nerve, is a principal part of our social, interpersonal behavior. It's so vested into the features of who we are as human beings that when we use our facial expressivity and we use intonation to engage people using our voices and people turn away from us, we get a visceral response. That visceral response prepares us to fight or to flee.
Compassionate listening is good for our health. When we are kind or compassionate, we activate our vagus nerve. Activating our vagus nerve often can improve the tone of this nerve. High vagal tone is correlated with a healthy heart and increased resilience to stress. It is also correlated with better emotional regulation. Somatic Experiencing such as TRE (Tension & Trauma Release exercises) stimulate the vagus nerve. Scientists believe it can help with depression.
The Listening Project. Stephen Porges has gone as far as to set up “The Listening Project” encouraging peoples’ ability to listen and attend to human speech. It is also designed to promote social engagement behavior in children with problems in social interaction and communication and to help to strengthen the important middle ear muscles, as the middle ear is linked into the sympathetic fight and flight response.
When we are in Fight and flight mode, in other words when our sympathetic nervous system is in a high state of arousal, our ability to be friendly, sociable and to evaluate others is compromised. As the Polyvagal theory emphasises, it is social engagement itself that tends to “down regulate” (calm) the sympathetic nervous system, and the fight and flight response.
“Safety is a powerful metaphor… And it is a metaphor that carries with it a physiological state. So if we feel safe, we have access to the neural regulation of the facial muscles, we have access to a myelinated vagal circuit that is capable of down regulating more traditional fight/flight and stress responses, and we have an opportunity to play … An inability to play is a frequent characteristic of many individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis. And what I mean by play, is not playing with a Game Boy or computer. Instead it requires social interaction. Play requires an ability to mobilize with the sympathetic nervous system and then to down-regulate the sympathetic excitation with face-to-face social interaction and the social engagement system” Stephen Porges.
"As a human species, we are neurologically, biologically, and physiologically designed to experience, endure, and survive, and even evolve from traumatic events. We are genetically encoded to let go of and recover from trauma as a way of ridding ourselves of any experience that obstructs or interferes with the natural evolutionary process of the human body." - Dr. David Berceli
My experience working with clients with chronic tension and trauma unveils story after story of seizures, migraines, gastrointestinal problems, sciatica, autoimmune disorders, inability to sleep, anxiety, ADHD and so on. The connection between trauma and health is complex, not surprising because there is still so much to learn about our bodies.
Trauma is being overwhelmed due to seemingly unbearable life experiences. Traumas can be categorized as "hard traumas" or "soft traumas."
Hard trauma is an incident that is easily identifiable such as a car accident, personal injury, serious harm or a natural disaster. It is a moment in time that one can identify as a disturbing experience; but one that likely can be healed.
Whereas a "soft trauma" is less identifiable. These are experiences such as prolonged psychological or emotional child or spousal abuse, domestic or social violence. These traumas may be more unconscious rather than obvious and physical. These types of abuse are often more difficult to identity but are no less traumatizing than hard traumas.
Everyday life is stressful and the body registers stress in the form of muscular tension patterns.
Trauma overwhelms our entire sense of self, limiting choices, as we lack awareness of healthy tools and resources. Oftentimes we must hit "rock bottom" before finding new ways to think and feel. Those who have healed successfully from trauma discover that life is richer, fuller and more caring than ever experienced before. This inner development of compassion, caring, and sensitivity is self-renewal and it happens when one is forced to explore the painful depths of humanity that they were previously unprepared to do; an exploration that creates a deeper sense of connectedness to life and stronger bonds of connectedness to others and even to the universe.
Every trauma, whether physiological, cognitive, emotional or interpersonal, affects the physical body. The healing of trauma begins in the body.
A hot topic in science recently is the vagus nerve, an extensive nerve that is taking center stage as a potential "OFF SWITCH" for disease.
The vagus nerve's job is to keep your immune system in-check. There's a close connection between chronic stress, immune functioning, and inflammation. In brief, short-term activation of your sympathetic nervous system releases cortisol and helps keep your immune system at healthy levels. BUT long-term stress suppresses immunity leading to a slew of problems. Chronic traumatic stress leaves your immune system unchecked which leads to inflammation in the body. video
Regulation of the nervous system relies upon the goldilocks principle: We recognize that we are "too hot" when we feel keyed-up, anxious, irritable, or panicky. We are "too cold" when we are shut down, depressed, or feeling hopeless. Alternating between these two states is like driving with one foot on the gas and one on the brakes.
Practices that regulate the vagus nerve are aimed at either relaxing or re-energizing ourselves depending upon what is needed to feel "just right" or to regain a sense of balance. see video
Trauma, Health and the Vagus Nerve.
Natural vagus nerve stimulation is what's needed to relieve keyed-up or shut-down nervous system states. You can indirectly stimulate your vagus nerve, the nerve that passes through your belly, diaphragm, lungs, throat, inner ear, and facial muscles. Practices that change or control the actions of these areas of the body can influence the functioning of the vagus nerve through the mind-body feedback loop. You can easily try these from the comfort of your living room:
1. TRE TRE (tension & trauma releasing exercises)
2. Humming Humming
3. Conscious Breathing (video)
5. Touch/Connection (hugging until relaxed)
Self-care practices are crucial in times such as ours. It is important to learn healthy tools for self-regulation and to know when to seek out professional therapeutic help. Asking for help can often be the hardest step. You do not need to walk the healing path alone.
Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts. - Sigmund Freud
Observe a flower, witness natural beauty. A flower can teach us about life. We are attracted towards their beauty, their nature.
Beauty, stillness, simplicity, rootedness to the earth, Divinely aligned and connected to Source.
Get High daily. Twice daily if you can! The following one minute positivity stream is a quick, simple, effective way to shift your mind and align yourself with Source energy. Writing, thinking, or saying (mentally or verbally) whatever comes to mind about how you're feeling when you are in your zone, feeling centered and in flow, creates an instantaneous shift. Your body will feel warmth, invigoration, peace. Positivity raises us from ego-centered, lower-level chakras allowing us to experience awakening the heart, experiencing the feel of high vibrations.
Take time each day to check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you're feeling. Where are you focusing your attention? What are you thinking? Is it positive? Are you working towards alignment or going against the current?
Is your insatiable urge for pleasure in your adult life a hopeless attempt to gain the pleasure you missed as a child? Are you an adrenaline addict, thriving on conflict?
We've grown up thinking life has to be hard if we want to achieve or acquire “good” things. We don't want to be labelled lazy. We've been believing that results come about only from struggle and pain. So, we press on relentlessly, without taking a breath, without asking ourselves questions . . . starting with, how does this feel? Instead, we operate to please others, to live up to society's standards, to gain extrinsic approval and reward.
We're making life harder on ourselves when we stay all trapped up in our minds, unaware that we are NOT our thoughts. So lost replaying the past, fretting over the future, we don't realize it doesn't have to be this way.
RE-learning how to cultivate positivity allows us to feel the shift. We CAN shift gears -- by disconnecting from the outer world and by going within -- connecting with a wholesome inner world. This practice takes conscious daily effort, commitment, with focused, devoted will -- but mostly it takes sincere desire to want to return back to your true nature.
It's as simple as easing up on ourselves, surrendering, and letting go. We don't need to continue pushing . . . punishing ourselves to prove anything to anybody. No more paddling our boats tirelessly upstream, strapping unnecessary baggage on our backs climbing uphill. The frustrating search for that external peak somewhere out there rests within. Our truth is to be found with ease . . . in gentle downstream discovery; the thrill is on the descent. It's in complete surrender that we flow with Source and find our true home, within ourselves, with Self as the ultimate resource.
Recalibration is a process of alignment with our inner source presence. We are constantly evolving, perpetually moving through natural cycles, through phases. Cycles require that we generate energy and balance forces if we wish to transform in a forward progression amidst the chaos. In this time of hi-tech information overload, so wrought with great change and acceleration, we must be both adaptable and flexible.
While the ego or undisciplined mind may keep us on lock down, in fear, creating confusion, unable to let go of past behaviors, beliefs, and patterns, the spirit has the intelligence to know which pathway to follow.
Silence. Solitude. A sense of freedom to move and explore in other directions. Self-reflection. Sound needed? Yes. The process of emptying oneself, to drop down into the void, into the vast nothingness is not to be feared. Change includes deep recalibration of our bodies, which may be intensely physical, mental or emotional, and changes can be embraced or feared, depending on one's willingness to adapt and move forward.
To balance, integrate, and unify energies within one's life and in one's body is to conduct our life through understanding that we are interconnected with all things in every way. Digging deeply, to access the Self, inquiring into the areas where we can bring balance, guides us to rid ourselves of harmful blockages, allowing the body's energetic balance to be restored – permitting growth, health, and restoration.
Prayer to Higher Self
Please enter on my breath. Please *SOAR into my heart. Please stay with me for awhile until I feel love. I want to love all parts of myself, all parts that I've shut out, all parts that I've escaped and ran from. Now. Please come in and help me re-integrate all lost parts. Thank you.
If Someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him"
Are you ready to create a balanced, thriving home atmosphere?
Unfortunately, factors affecting personal well-being are largely ignored or given low priority in the work force, in training, as well as, in the media. Schools. too, are guilty of ignoring life balance and personal needs as something that's not worth pursuing or paying much attention.
The factors affecting our work/life balance and happiness are different for each of us -- relative to age or stage of life, personality or genetic factors, beliefs we've grown up with, and life experiences.
The fast pace of the world, especially living in the age of technology -- with internet, iPhones, tablets -- where information is instantaneous, is constantly calling for us to be available at all times, keeping us on high alert. Due to the nature of how things seem, there's barely any time, especially for accurately considering the root issues truly affecting our happiness and life balance.
When we're feeling emotional, full of restlessness, our hearts racing with nervous energy . . . what do we need?
When we're feeling anxious, we need to express . . . to release pent up energy, to allow for creativity. We are born natural seekers in need of healthy expression . . . and when we don't find healthy release or expression, we form unhealthy habits or addictions. We might smoke, eat, work, exercise, shop, curse, drink, or sleep to numb ourselves from painful emotions.
The mind needs to be busy. It needs gentle direction or guidance. We can help the mind out by finding healthy modes of expression. Mindful walking, dancing, piano playing, writing, drawing, knitting, singing, playing a game or cuddling with a loved one are simple forms of physical release. Cleaning and cooking are also effective ways for releasing pent-up energy, but doing too much for others or doing too much of anything, for that matter, without recharging and nurturing the self, can leave us feeling depleted, frustrated, unappreciated, disconnected and stuck.
What is a Chakra?
Chakras are our energy centers. They are the openings for life energy to flow into and out of our aura. Their function is to vitalize the physical body and to bring about the development of our self-consciousness. They are associated with our physical, mental and emotional interactions.
Simply put, our chakras are responsible for creating and maintaining our existence. They are who we are, our essence.
They run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. They're not in the physical body, but rather are part of the subtle energy body or aura.
The first three (3) chakras affect us personally (root, sacral, solar plexus) while the upper four (4) chakras are universal in their effect (heart, throat, brow, crown).
We have Seven Major Chakras:
We also have other chakras such as the minor chakras in our hands, feet, and knees as well as two that are below our feet --
and another 12 inches above the crown is the chakra that connects us to the Divine.
There is a front and back to the chakras. With the front for what is going on now and what is coming in, while the back is for what is going out or for things we are putting in our past or trying to put behind us.
The main channels of energy surrounding and flowing from the center of each chakra are called "Nadis." They are related to the nervous system and the meridians.
There are three (3) primary Nadis that run parallel to the body's physical axis of the spine:
THE ROOT CHAKRA
Root Chakra is our foundation and is located at the base of the spine or coccyx. A solid foundation is essential for grounding us so that the rest of our life may unfold and blossom. This Chakra is our most physical chakra and is our most primal -- relating to survival instincts which include food and shelter, our body and identity as an individual, and our connection to others.
Our health, constitution and security including material wealth are linked to the root chakra. It is our grounding force that allows us to connect to the earth energies and empowers our being. This chakra has to do with survival, money, vitality, strength, security, and karma.
Our root chakra drives our need to create a safe, comfortable home environment; to be financially secure; and to have loving relationships. An open root chakra gives us the ability to plan for the future instead of simply reacting impulsively to circumstances.
The color representing the root chakra is red and the symbol is a SQUARE as it represents strong foundations and solidity. A square symbolizes the four directions and the ability to move in any of them.
Our root energy is channeled through the adrenal glands above the kidneys, which enables us to respond quickly and activates our instinctual ‘fight or flight’ reactions. If we're stressed, financially or otherwise, our adrenals are being taxed. Even if finances are in order, a closed root chakra can manifest in unsatisfactory relationships, a chaotic home environment, or a profound lack of the courage and self-confidence necessary to pursue our dreams.
The main function of the root chakra is embodiment and grounding. It relates with our eliminative system, large intestines, skeletal system, reproductive system, adrenals, weight issues, hips, legs, and feet.
The result of a blocked root chakra can be diminished self-confidence, guilt, hopelessness, feelings of being overwhelmed, resentment and depression.
A Healthy Root Chakra:
DO ANY ACTIVITY THAT BRINGS AWARENESS OF YOUR BODY and AWARENESS OF THE EARTH, being careful not to overdo it! Exhaustion is NOT GOOD.
SO TODAY TAKE ACTION. TAKE TIME TO GROUND YOURSELF.
Take in the beauty of your surroundings. Be grateful for the people in your life. Breathe deeply and often. Thank Mother Earth for Her bounty and connect with Her in any way you can. See and feel abundantly. Be kind to yourself, to the earth, and to others.
Soon that beautiful ball of glowing red energy will flow freely, pulsing passionately throughout your body, healing, enlivening and enriching your being and the world around you!
"Our breath can help us step back -- to observe a particular experience or current difficulty that feels like a struggle. Using the breath calms the body so we can access and direct our Light -- cleansing and healing our energetic bodies. White light removes negativity, transmuting fear into love." xo - jewelsheart
We are living in a hectic time with a lot of emotion coming to the surface. We are also living at a time when there is an abundance of light available to us, from the higher realm, ready and waiting to assist us.
We simply need the know-how for accessing our Light, to open up our hearts and to connect with the abundance of light streaming all around us. Once accessed, we can bring it into our bodies.
There can be consequences and high costs involved when we ignore or fail to heed the body's warning signs. Warnings are often signaling us to pull over to refuel.
-- We must stop & pay to refuel our cars with gasoline, but the breath costs us nothing. While breath is free, there's still a charge if you want it: conscious breathing gives us a full charge! The indescribable healing charge of cosmic energy.
While breathing is a gift, freely received, requiring little to no effort, it has a special feature. Unlike the heart, the lungs, and our other major organs that automatically operate our bodily functions, the breath can be controlled manually, willfully, mindfully.
-- Conscious breathing is a free choice
Passionate about self-healing and empowering others to take healing into their own hands.