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Breaking The Cycle Of Trauma

These are really challenging times that are calling for spiritual awakening. What we are seeing is trauma in action on so many levels. First and foremost, I stand with the black community and with everyone working to create a better world for us all. I'm here to support you. Please don't hesitate to reach out, and don't miss the info below on a special shamanic pipe ceremony and Native American prayer circle I'm doing this Sunday June 14th, 6:30 pm over Zoom. It's an opportunity to come together for some powerful healing. Secondly, I am going through it too. As a trauma healer, I am highly sensitive to energetic discord. I am also the mother of two mixed-race children, so the current events hit home in a very real way. No matter who you are, we are all impacted AND we all have an opportunity to do something meaningful. High alert. In the last email, we talk about fight, flight, and freeze as the innate human responses to trauma. Right now, everyone is on high alert and our nervous systems are in overdrive. There is collective fear and rage that's spreading like wildfire. Those heightened emotions make us more prone to project our unhealed traumas onto others, which perpetuates and even escalates the cycle of negativity. The more we are in a collective state of fear, the more at risk we are of being in real danger. Be a leader in every interaction. We need to put in more effort than usual to create a sense of safety for ourselves and others. We can't wait for anyone else to do it for us. Images like those of police officers embracing protestors, and black men forming a human shield to protect a white officer from attack make us feel safe because they diffuse our fear. There are ways each of us can do that with every interaction. However you lead right now will have a major ripple effect. No matter how big or small, your actions make a difference. The power of co-regulation Emotion co-regulation is a psychological term that refers to the ability we all have to adjust ourselves to maintain a regulated state in social interactions. It's actually a collaboration where each participant must actively and continuously adjust their intentions and expressions with the goal of reaching a regulated state together. In other words, it's the extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions. When emotion co-regulation is in effect, there's a decrease in overall emotional distress. We all have a fundamental human need to be soothed in different moments. Self-regulation is our ability to calm and soothe ourselves, while co-regulation is our ability to calm and soothe each other. For example: Wearing masks keeps us from seeing each other's facial expressions and that's inadvertently contributed to the tension that already exists. When you go into the supermarket, actively smiling, softening your eyes, and using a calm tone of voice can instantly provide a sense of safety that disarms people's edginess. Marketing strategies have greeters at storefronts for this reason. They set a positive tone. Reaching this state takes work. It's a delicate and dynamic dance of awareness of one's own emotions and that of the other person. It helps us be less reactive, more present, and actively intentional about the outcome of the interaction. It's a complex process but we can start by actively listening to others and monitoring our own emotions (instead of merely being overrun by them). Practice paying attention to your thoughts, your subjective feelings, and your body's response when interacting with someone else. Polyvagal Theory The Polyvagal theory is cutting-edge science that posits that the vagus nerve — a primary component of the autonomic nervous system — plays a key role in feeling safe and secure in social interactions. This article in Counseling Today takes a deeper dive into the science. In a nutshell, the ventral vagal nerve comes down the front of the body and is essentially the "social engagement" part of the nervous system. When we're in a state of calm, love, connection, and/or belonging, the ventral nerves are the ones engaged. So, if you're upset and you see an expression of care, it activates the vagal nerve, which takes you out of a fight or flight state and instead elicits a rest and relax response. You can't smile or look at a smile without engaging your heart. It's a physiological response. Similarly, mirror neurons mimic what's going on in someone else's nervous system. If people are afraid or in a state of aggression, and you keep your own nervous system calm and loving, that person will come into your feeling state. What we emanate makes a difference. Practice this incredible gift. It's pretty powerful. Smile and see what response you get. Invest in embodying feelings of safety, calm, care, and concern in your environment (e.g., in your home, your community, with your friends, with strangers, etc.). It's entirely possible to create a context where it's calm and safe enough for there to be dialogue and resolution, and for emotions like anger to be present without violence.

A prayer for harmony. My prayer is for the awakening of humanity’s heart. May be each heart’s flame burn brighter today than any day before. May that warmth and light be what guides us and drives us (as a collective and as individuals) to create what's next. For me that’s what true healing, social justice requires. It requires the presence of love such that harming life is intolerable and that harmony is our highest priority. I’ve committed my life to this cause. I want to live in a world where every life matters and I'm willing to do everything I can for that to come pass. I know I can’t create that alone, so let's come together to create that reality. 

Much love, Neda

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