Well it’s almost a year since the shift in our storytelling began, and our dance with the nervous system took center stage. The new Neurovascular Flow class gave us even more language – and a new level of challenge. We explored the form and functions of the autonomic nervous system, including the parasympathetic and sympathetic ganglia and their somatic maps.
Did you know… the sympathetic (“stressful”) ganglia are located paravertebrally through the thoracic and lumbar segments… and this system is referred to as the thoracolumbar system? Or that, the parasympathetic (“Peaceful”) ganglia are less symmetrically organized, and closer to their target organs, but that they originate in the brainstem and the sacral plexus… and this system is referred to as the craniosacral system.
What we discovered is that the slightest sympathetic-driven, therapist intention (out of Profound Neutral) would amp up the patient’s resonance, almost to the point of panic, especially near those paravertebral ganglia. However, a therapist secure in their (parasympathetic) Profound Neutral supports this peaceful default setting in the patient, allowing a new depth of vitality in the neurohormonal communications of the ANS.
Our challenge, as therapists, is to settle into a deeper level of this ourselves. As we become more sensitive in our being, our touch, our awareness, we can help our patients regain this territory in themselves. This has significant consequences for our health and well-being, and for many insidious medical conditions.
Our new mantra of “breathe it * feel it * name it” is even more important here, for as the patient names their internal/external state (peaceful/juicy/safe/ok/wow), their neurochemistry seals the deal and they can begin to own their new balanced, recognition-and-response patterns to perceived internal or external stress. This is the self-ownership that is critical to our health, this is the empowerment that we long for ourselves – and seek to share with our patients. Yet this is not the space that we can own for them. It is time to back up and let the nervous system reset itself, from the patient’s own internal guidance and permission.
What this means is that we as therapists must take yet another step back in projecting stories about this experience or process for our patients. Live it ourselves, know it ourselves, yes. Model it for others, yes. By “being the work” our nervous systems begin their communication. Stepping back from that ingrained push of having to know the answers or having to be in charge is paramount now. A newly opened and settled parasympathetic system will feel your projection in a terrifying way, and be jolted out of safety.
So here’s to an amazing new level of the work, here’s to the challenge of stepping even further back from the work of it, here’s to our own self-ownership process, that will teach us how to guide others into their own safety and authenticity. Even though we may feel well-versed in the “not doing” of the physical or intentional pieces, now we need to be extra aware of our “not doing” through storytelling or projection. We must be the work we are to offer in service to our patients, not be the first danger that a newly restored nervous system faces.
And with that, take a deep breath into your belly… feel your cardiopulmonary system settle down into its parasympathetic hummm… relax your eyeballs… and name the story of your own ease and flow.
I’ll see you out there!