Navigate your Nervous System
- Learn how to use the Polyvagal Theory in your daily life
Nervous system regulation
Your nervous system is a part of your biology that helps to keep you safe, alive.
As long as it functions adaptively and has the flexibility to move through different defense states and back into safety again, everything works fine.
Problems start to appear when the system gets stuck in a state of defense without the person having tools to move out of that defense state, back into safety.
I work with the Polyvagal Theory in a practical way to help you to get to know the language of the nervous system, your own familiar defense patterns and I'll teach you strategies to interrupt stuck defense patterns and to shape the autonomic nervous system toward safety and connection.
We'll practice in multiple ways to track autonomic responses, learn skills to safely explore patterns of mobilization, disconnection and engagement and learn techniques to build autonomic regulation and resilience.
I work in a way where we learn the theory from the 'inside out', because feeling safe is not a cognitive experience.
It's one that you need to experience in your body.
I want to honor the individual autonomic wisdom and help people to find the right degree of neural challenge. You might want to stretch your system a bit, but not stress it.
On this page, you will also find a video with my polyvagal explanation as I've taught it in my Wheel of Consent workshop. So that's a special, free gift for you. The audio is not very loud (although I've used a microphone), so not suitable to listen in your car.
Watching this video is the start of any Nervous system training I offer as well.
I love this part by Deb Dana in her Beginner's guide to the Polyvagal Theory:
"We come into the world wired to connect.
With our first breath, we embark on a quest to feel safe in our bodies, in our environments, and in our relationships with others.
The autonomic nervous system is our personal surveillance system, always on guard, asking the question “Is this safe?”
Its goal is to protect us by sensing safety and risk, listening moment by moment to what is happening in and around our bodies and in the connections we have to others.
This listening happens far below awareness and far away from our conscious control.
Dr. Porges, understanding that this is not awareness that comes with perception, coined the term neuroception to describe the way our autonomic nervous system scans for cues of safety, danger, and life threat without involving the thinking parts of our brain.
Because we humans are meaning-making beings, what begins as the wordless experiencing of neuroception drives the creation of a story that shapes our daily living.
There are a few options to learn more about these amazing skills and tools:
1. A live 3 day training in Dutch
Check the Calendar for dates
2. An online training in Dutch.
Part 1, an email/video training: Click here
Part 2, an email/video training: Click here
3. An online training in English.
Part 1, an email/video training: Click here
Part 2, coming up.
Benefits of Autonomic Nervous System flexibility (copyright Deb Dana, with permission)
Reduced inflammation, regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Andersson & Tracy, 2012)
Control of immune response (Rosas-Ballina & Tracy, 2009)
Emotional Regulation (Park & Thayer, 2014; Surland, et al., 2016; McCraty & Zayas, 2014)
Ability to inhibit distractions (Park, Vasey, Bavel & Thayer, 2014)
Stress resilience (Pereira, Campos & Sousa, 2017)
Subjective wellbeing (Geisler, Vennewald, Kubiak & Weber, 2010)
Increased capacity for friendschip and connection (Kok & Fredrickson, 2010)
Social support seeking, Perceptions of social acceptance, social connectedness (Kok et al., 2013)
Compassion (Stellar, Cohen, Oveis & Keltner, 2015)
Risks connected to autonomic Rigidity (copyright Deb Dana, with permission)
Vigilance for angry faces (Park & Thayer, 2014)
Distraction from tasks to potential threats (Park, Vasey, Bavel & Thayer, 2014)
Inability to discern trivial from important cues (Park, Vasey, Bavel & Thayer, 2014)
Heightened 'startle' response (Park & Thayer, 2014)
Hypoactive pre-frontal regulation (Park & Thayer, 2014)
Depression (Sgoifo et al, 2015)
Anxiety (Alvares et al., 2013)
Social isolation/ loneliness (Grippo, Lamb, Carter & Porges, 2007)
Impaired immune functioning, inflammatory diseases (Kenney & Ganta, 2014)
Digestive problems (Mazur, Furgala, Jabloński, Mach & Thor, 2012)
Respiratory problems (Gerbarg & Brown, 2016)
Chronic Fatigue (Cauwenbergh et al., 2014)
I'm trained by Deb Dana in her method of working with clients:
What is Polyvagal Theory?
2022 Explanation in Dutch:
2021 Explanation in Dutch and in English:
I made a video in which I show you some exercises to activate your Vagus Nerve:
I've learned a lot from Stephen Porges his work and from training with Deb Dana.
If you're looking for a place to read more, I can recommend her books.
And if you want to know more, you can also read Stephen Porges' books (click link)
And for more information on the Polyvagal Theory, this is a nice -4 minute- video to watch:
This is an interesting video as well: