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What is Nervous System Regulation? Explanation + Video

Nervous system regulation is our ability to use the most present, evolved parts of our brains to signal safety, convey compassion and a sense of connection to the parts of our nervous system that might be reacting through a survival response to any given situation. As an example, we might be talking to someone who reminds us of another person who greatly hurt us, and we might find ourselves sweating, clenching our fists, and speaking in ways we'll regret; this is an example of a trauma flashback that dysregulates our nervous system, causing this autonomic 'fight' response, and has us react to a past event rather than the one we're in.

We don't need to have suffered major trauma in order to find ourselves reacting in ways that aren't wise and don't reflect our best selves. Responding wisely to life is a practice that takes effort to cultivate, and nervous system regulation is a fundamental skill in doing so.

In order to come back from the trance of reactivity, we need to be able to signal to our nervous system that we are safe: we can unclench those fists, breathe more deeply and slowly, and take our time to speak. As we pause to do this, we find the space and freedom to respond wisely to the situation we're in.

Nervous system regulation is one of the practices we'll explore on November 6th, during the one-day online retreat titled "Re-Inhabiting Our Bodies". Sign up here - I look forward to practicing with you!

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