“Safety is the absence of threat PLUS the feeling of connection.” Dr StephenPorges

Somatic mindfulness practices allow us to track the actual mechanisms of disconnection. It makes complete sense that when we bump into stored trauma, we feel overwhelmed and powerless. People reach a tipping point when we realize it is both possible and worthwhile staying with ourselves instead of escaping. We see the variety of creative ways we have developed to avoid ourselves.

Our nervous system and primitive brain are always trying to protect us. It can be hard to believe this when our reactivity causes so much suffering. We go into a rage response and hurt someone. We berate and shame ourselves with core deficiency beliefs even as we hustle for approval through people pleasing and perfectionism. We’re stressed and one glass of wine turns into three night after night. We talk all the time so we don’t have to feel. These are all common experiences.

Here are some reliable steps to bring you back into connection with yourself:

  1. Become aware when you are feeling disconnected and begin to notice what activates you.
  2. With consistent effort, you become skilled at self-regulating your nervous system through practices like these.
  3. As you understand the nervous system, you let go of shaming yourself for your survival strategies you developed as a child.
  4. You develop kindness and empathy for yourself and others and begin to be on your own side.
  5. With the stability of a well regulated nervous system, you are interested and able to inquire into what is triggering the fight/ flight/ freeze/ fawn responses and then are able to more quickly come back to self-regulation.

There are so many benefits from getting to know ourselves in this nuanced way. What is lingering from the past? How can we let go of old beliefs that are holding us back? We developed these strategies when we were children. We can confidently let go of what we no longer need and take the risk to connect, first with ourselves where it really counts, then with others. Try this inquiry for a guided practice of regulation and somatic mindfulness.

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Connection After Ordinary Trauma