By |2022-01-25T09:44:24-05:00January 25th, 2022|Breadcrumb Trail|

A wonderful dog behaviorist we’ve worked with demonstrates a method of settling an excited puppy.  It looks like magic. The trainer explains that on the contrary, it’s nature at work. When the human’s nervous system is calm and regulated, that ‘message’ will be telegraphed to the canine’s. Calm ensues.  A dog trained to SETTLE will calm themselves from the excited state that is common to puppies. This is then, for the moment, a pup with a regulated nervous system.

It really is a thing a beauty to watch what can be a most exasperating canine state of excitement change to […]

The Things We (Still) Carry

By |2022-01-12T11:47:48-05:00January 12th, 2022|Breadcrumb Trail|

Holidays have come and gone, and perhaps with them the experience of the mixed blessing of family. These are the most important connections for most of us, and if we are honest, often the most triggering of our stress response. How is it that these two things go together?

Being with these people we love, as mature adults in the present time ~~ especially at holiday times already full of associations and memories ~~ easily activates fears of vulnerability we experienced and packed away long ago.

To our grownup conscious selves these fears are deeply hidden, yet our autonomic nervous system KNOWS, […]

Brave Together – safely connecting in an unsafe world

By |2021-12-09T09:00:03-05:00December 9th, 2021|Breadcrumb Trail|

Our days are full of encounters that our nervous system ‘reads’ as perilous…even if our thinking minds do not see it that way. Replay your last trip into the supermarket for a moment. You put your mask on as you entered, and once inside you were surrounded by masked strangers. You might have instinctively sought eye contact with another — this is what our mammal nervous systems are wired for ~~ and been met with an averted glance. Your thinking mind will likely have made little of it. It ‘knows’ that you wouldn’t expect connection with a stranger at Walmart. […]

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By |2021-11-22T09:29:07-05:00November 22nd, 2021|Breadcrumb Trail|

Our chronically stressed nervous system is like a stray hungry dog who’s been badly treated. He wants food, he wants affection, but he is fearful and can’t trust a friendly outstretched hand. He might even bite it!

The action of our nervous system activated into its defensive state ongoingly is to hold that distrust at the system level, which translates into our retracting reflexively from connection. The cognitive processes arising from that fearful, retracted state will be suspicious and seeing the worst. This negative mind-state will turn inward in the form of thought patterns that are self-doubting, harsh self-critical, socially anxious, […]

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Childhood Trauma Shapes Lifelong Physical and Mental Health

By |2022-01-25T09:43:36-05:00November 11th, 2021|Breadcrumb Trail|

“I would argue,” says Dr. Michael Sharp of Plum Spring Clinic, “that the studies on the health impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are the most important epidemiological studies ever done.”

The research he refers to—known as the ACEs studies—began with large-scale studies at Kaiser Permanente in the mid-1990s. These studies—corroborated repeatedly in the 25 years since—found a powerful link between childhood trauma and long-term physical health problems.

“Anyone in the healing arts has suspected that there is a connection between physical wellness and what we experience emotionally,” observes Dr. Sharp. “But these studies provide inescapable evidence of that connection. In fact, […]

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CLARITY and its Absence

By |2021-11-03T10:23:22-04:00November 3rd, 2021|Breadcrumb Trail|

The stress reaction, with its ‘soup’ of hormones, prepares the body for action. It activates quickly, bringing a burst of adrenaline for a fast response to stressor. The startle response happens in 100 milliseconds! If this quick surge doesn’t resolve the stress, cortisol is released.

Stress reactivity that is chronic results in the sustained presence of too much cortisol and keeps the body and mind in its vigilance posture, and here’s a new understanding from Poyvagal Theory: the pre-frontal cortex doesn’t come along. Simply put, we can’t think clearly or creatively in a stress state, because the body’s natural reaction contracts […]

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Cultivating Calm

By |2021-10-26T14:26:31-04:00October 26th, 2021|Breadcrumb Trail|

New science has shown us that the activity of our autonomic nervous system, in any given moment, is the grounding for our lived experience in that moment. The Polyvagal Theory describes the constant scanning for danger and safety that is nervous system’s critical role in survival, and the signaling to body systems to regulate according to the threat or safety detected.

When threat is detected, the system activates for fight or for flight, and routes all available resources to meeting the threat. If that threat overwhelms the system’s capacity, it collapses into a resource-conserving shut-down state. Anywhere along this continuum of […]

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