Elephants and Regulation
Regulation of the autonomic nervous system is key to how we feel. We often regulate through others and the elephants lend me their regulation when I experience their timeless gait and their connection to the earth. I believe that nature provides us with myriads of opportunities to find our balance that is too often affected by our demanding lives and our terrible histories.
The biggest problem pertaining to mental health and emotional well-being, is neither depression nor anxiety- it is the devastation left in the aftermath of trauma. When we have traumatic histories in which we were neglected, abused, or abandoned while we were supposed to experience the world as a safe place in which we will be protected and cared for, it affects certain networks and regions in our brains that are important in enabling regulation. In a nutshell: Our ability to regulate our emotions and experience a sense of being engaged, capable and at ease is influenced by our histories of trauma involving not only abuse but also neglect and abandonment.
Despite our best efforts to remain positive and meet the high standards we set for ourselves, we often find ourselves stuck in states of either being overwhelmed by anger, feeling a need to explode, being confrontational, feelings of being out of control and fearful or we feel stuck in an immobilized state. A state of shut down and collapse is characterized by feelings of being lost and alone, being silent, feeling foggy and being unable to focus. This state is also characterized by feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and feelings of being disconnected. These states are signatures of the dysregulated brain.
Currently we understand these states in terms of the regulation of the autonomic nervous system. Neuroscience has proven to us that the solution does not lie in decades of talk therapy or in various combinations of prescription drugs although some symptoms may well be alleviated by both these approaches and are often important adjuncts to the core process. If we address the regulation of the brain at the level of the brain in the electrical domain of the brain, the brain can change and learn to improve its regulation. The brain is dedicated to its own regulation.
I will be posting regular snippets on regulation and on how the effects of trauma can be understood and overcome, here. In the meantime, honor your own emotional regulation by engaging in wholesome activities that contribute to your sense of peace and calm.