I wanted to discuss a topic that I want to educate my audience on as I feel it is important to understand in order to have your body thrive at its optimal level. In this week’s blog we are going to be talking about the polyvagal theory and the nervous system ladder and how it is a part of your foundation for healing. 

Polyvagal Nervous System Defined

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about your body in order to support it, look no further. So, what is the polyvagal theory and how does it relate to the nervous system? 

The basis of polyvagal theory is the idea that humans need safety and our biological makeup is devoted to keeping us protected. One pathway that is in the parasympathetic nervous system is the ventral vagal pathway that responds to cues for safety. The other pathway is the dorsal vagal pathway which responds to cues of threats. When you disassociate (aka disconnect the mind and the body, because it is too overwhelming to connect) you can find yourself in a dorsal vagal state. 

  • Cues for safety and danger happen below our awareness
  • Polyvagal therapy helps you move out of a dysregulated state
  • Healing occurs in the ventral vagal pathway state 

Foundation for healing through the Polyvagal Theory

1. Our body can create our emotional experiences 1

We behave in predictable ways that have our bodies perpetuating a story we believe about ourselves as we respond to the world around us.

2. Our autonomic nervous system is a map

When we can understand and recognize our autonomic nervous system we can become aware of our patterns and better respond to distress and ease.

The Nervous System as a ladder

Imagine the nervous system is a ladder with ventral vagal at the top, sympathetic in the middle, and dorsal vagal at the bottom. 

Write down your feelings and behaviors when you are in a sympathetic state (angry, fearful, out of control etc.) and then do the same for when you are in dorsal vagal (silent, hopeless, helpless, etc). 

Then reflect on the top of the ladder, being the ventral vagal zone. These feelings often include openhearted, engaged, healing. 

After this exercise you will have a better understanding and general map for what your nervous system looks like. 

What next?

If you are wanting support around how to heal on a cellular level and improve your personal relationship with yourself, book a clarity call with me to find out how I can support you further in your journey. 

As always, thank you for saving room for me in your inbox and I look forward to connecting with you further. If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram where I share posts about all things psychology, self-care, and neuroscience. 

Sending love and wellbeing your way!

Lisa 🧠

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