I want to share with you about the Nervous System, Identity, and the Sacred Invitation of the Soul, the fertile ground where they abide, and to guide you toward your ability to engage with them to live your most honest, fulfilling, embodied life.
Something extraordinary and yet absolutely simple occurred for me recently: a transfiguration that is nothing short of miraculous, and yet completely ordinary. I’ve been stalking this “event,” without really knowing it was such, for over 20 years.
Through my own personal somatic practice in Continuum as well as working with my clients, I both gradually and suddenly gained insight into an aspect of the human condition that is insidious and arresting of our inherent nobility as a species; an invisible driving force behind all of our behavior, barely named or understood, even among the most educated, open-minded and developed human beings that I know.
This experience has been nothing more or less than an ongoing somatic awakening. I have been discovering how to melt below a subtle trance of oppression and innocent entanglement with my unresolved history that had been causing me to swing between states of anxiety and dispair over many years.
I never understood so clearly until now how the unconscious and debilitating story that I kept telling myself was stored, run and directed by my actual nervous system.
The Default Nervous System
You may think that you know what your nervous system is. Maybe you remember some basic understandings from human anatomy and physiology class in high school or college. Or maybe, like me, you have been avidly engaged in meditative, psychological or neuro-scientific practices that have allowed you to access deeper insight.
I want to point you to a particular aspect of the nervous system, though. Let’s call it your default nervous system. Have you wondered why- no matter how many pivotal “aha” moments of revelation, insight or resolve, something within you won’t budge? A subconscious mechanism is always on the wait, making sure that your fundamental baseline sense of existence can never really change.
This default nervous system is addicted to familiarity, even if the familiar is a state of suffering and deprivation. Neuroscience calls it your primitive brain- the part of our evolution that has made sure that we would survive all the generations of trauma, abuse, neglect and deprivation that our ancestors endured to get us here. So to this nervous system, anything that represents deep change is a threat to our survival.
Check this out.
Fact: We have to bond with our early environments to survive. So, if your early environment or your ancestors’ early environments had any of these qualities:
• Despair • Anxiety/Fear • Depression • Lack/scarcity • Deprivation • Loneliness/Isolation • Abuse
You bonded with these feeling tones or qualities for your very survival.
My story, and yours, is not unique or special. This is the human condition. Let’s remove the blame, the taboo, and the distancing from the recognition that anxiety and depression, scarcity and loneliness belong to us, and let ourselves realize that we are all in this together.
And yet… we all want to break out of this survival bond and we know that our species must discover what it means to thrive in collaborative, mutually sustaining and just ways of being.
We are standing at the end of the line now. We are ready to CREATE the new life; the new earth; the new way that is the ancient way. The world that our hearts know is possible.
So, how to ‘unbind’ ourselves from this survival bond?
Let’s get practical.
What do we need in order to move forward with dignity, respect, equanimity, and grace, to honestly face our world as well as ourselves?
What will it take for us to step into the unknown and forge the new neuro-networks of safety, trust, agency and collaborative leadership in an embodied way?
We need to take this default survival nervous system and plunge in into the source spring of The Soul.
Why The Soul?
Our Souls carry the codes to our future. Your Soul is the guidance system for every important choice in your life’s journey. As my friend Miranda Macpherson says: “Your soul knows the way.”
The good news is, the Soul has a location; it is not an abstraction. The Soul’s location is your body– primarily your higher neo-cortex brain centers, as well as you heart, gut brain and entire core.
When we can learn how to relax into intimacy and honesty with the human experience; the heart opens, the belly breathes and the higher brain secretes the neurochemistry of love, safety and trust. In this way the entire channel can become an open receptive space, connected to your core vitality and present moment clarity. It is designed to be your golden compass throughout your entire life.
The Transfiguration from over-identifying with the old, survival-oriented default nervous system into living from your embodied soul begins to reveal itself through these Five Somatic Awakenings:
Recognition of the Old Pattern. First, you recognize your default nervous system as an insidious addictive pattern of a false identity. This survival-based system is not your enemy- it is comprised of the lost, disowned and abandoned aspects of your humanity. These aspects never got the love, care and attunement needed for them to grow into your totality.
Innocently, the tendency to over-identify with the default nervous system is an attempt to find safety, security and ground. If the vibrations of this system are loud, manifesting strong symptoms in your body/mind, then the only thing that will break the trance is recognizing the call to bring these lost parts home so that they can become metabolized and unified into your totality.
Differentiation between Default and Soul. Secondly, this compassionate recognition will give you the ability to differentiate and begin to sense in a deeper way your true soulful essential self (your home frequency) from this nervous system level of false identity.
Awareness and Attention to Soul. Thirdly, this deepening awareness will continue to illuminate the power you in have in what you give your attention to. What you give your attention to grows.
Tracking and Shifting Unconscious Patterns as They Arise. The fourth awakening is in actually seeing and feeling from the inside that this nervous system level of identity is concretized by the unconscious tendency to narrow attention here. Ultimately who we take ourselves to be in any given moment is a somatic awareness practice. Who we are is not a solid and fixed rigid identity. Who we are is a fluid process, ever changing and open to change.
Choice, and Embrace, of Soul. Fifth, when we recognize this power of our attention and we consciously make the choice to give our perceptual allegiance to the deeper, slower rhythms of the fluid body, below the default nervous system; we become available to listen to the sacred invitation of the soul. Which has actually always been present as the deeper truth of who you are. In this way, we actually create a new baseline where the default nervous system becomes nourished and reset in harmonic symphony with the soul.
In the ongoing journey, we discover how to allow a biofeedback conversation between the tenderness of the nervous system levels of our anatomy/physiology and the resilience of the soul. So it’s not an ‘either or’ scenario. It becomes a sacred listening opportunity and stewarding of our ongoing divine/human wholeness.
In my experience of working with hundreds of people over 20-plus years, nothing fundamentally changes until we discover how to make and sustain contact with ourselves in this way. This requires, at least for a while, the presence of another human nervous system, cardiovascular system and soulful presence to entrain with. We learn through entrainment. If you are not familiar with this term, I think this quote from Florian Schlosser, who is a part of the Science and Non-Duality community describes his experience of what I am pointing to quite well:
After 18 years of sharing ‘Truth’ in meetings and retreats around the world, I can say today: no one has ever been seeking for truth. From the beginning of time, it has been our deepest cellular trauma which has tried everything to come to peace and overcome itself. All this is a completely autonomous process of the nervous system that is happening independently of ‘us’, our will power, good intentions or psychological and spiritual understanding.
It comes to peace and rest when it is completely met, felt, received and gently supported. For this the nervous system needs to receive new information from another, truly empathetic and living nervous system in order to learn a new and healthy reality, felt on the level of the cells. This is neither a spiritual nor psychological process… it is a cellular transformation.
I entirely agree. If you are interested in bringing your default nervous system- whatever traumas and resistances you carry- home to the Soul, please reach out to me. Working with the body/Soul in this way is my great honor and privilege, my dharma and true calling. I may hold some unique and essential keys to unlocking the doors of your core intelligence.
I spent the bulk of my adult life exploring alternative medicine. As a registered Craniosacral Therapist, Continuum Teacher and Neuro-Affective Relational Model practitioner, I have a couple of decades of study in psycho-biology, pre & perinatal psychology, developmental psychology, embryology, physiology and anatomy.
Being trained in shamanic energy medicine traditions, as well as working with various plant medicine spirits, I have been able to access the unconscious somatic psyche.
I have also been obsessed with the spiritual dimension, having sat at the feet of awakened masters for countless hours on meditation retreats, and explored from many angles what’s possible in terms of bridging science, spirit and soma.
What these fields of study all have in common is, they agree that ultimately, the point of all of our psycho-spiritual-somatic work is to embody the essential invitation of the Soul, which is to reclaim our Agency: to be the Creator, and no longer the victim, of our experience. The ability to speak your truth, to be in touch with your yes and your no and to communicate this in the direction of crafting a life that reflects your hearts true desire of what you want for yourself as well as our global family.
In this way, we make medicine of our traumas, intergenerational and current, such that we access the gifts of this truly undeniable cellular transformation, which allows you to reclaim your Agency.
This is my prayer for you, for myself and for all of humanity.