Week 1 Q&A
A: This is a big question, for those who don’t know HRV stands for heart Rate Variability which is a way of measuring the intervals between our heartbeats and is a good proxy for our capacity to recover after intensity. It also varies a lot from day-to-day so tracking your weekly and monthly averages are more useful.
In short, HRV is impacted by a lot… see the table above. Because it’s so individualised, my best answer here is to experiment and track — and this blog post I came across is a great case study of how to do this: https://ilmostromberg.com/1000-days-with-oura-ring/
In my experience some of the factors that have led to reliable increases in weekly-average HRV have been:
- not eating main meals after 5pm
- having a hot bath + stretch routine before bed
- regular zone 2 cardio (may go down in the short-term)
- 10 minutes of coherence breathing morning + evening
- Giving myself rest days from workouts
- 20 minutes of NSDR during the day
- 2g of Magnesium Glycenate in the evenings
- I also don’t drink alcohol personally —but have seen that that can tank HRV and recovery
But — we are all different, I’m not saying this is what you should do — but you’re welcome to try any of these as experiments for yourself and if you have access to a wearable then you can track the impact for yourself.
A: As you say anger itself is beautiful and a sign that a boundary of ours has been crossed — it’s like the warrior energy that protects what we care about. I spent most of my life thinking that I just wasn’t an angry person — without realising that I had learnt at a young age that I had equated expressing anger with ‘Being a bad person’ and thus losing the love of my caregivers.
The mid-point in my experience is that — expressing and more importantly feeling the sensations associated with anger — are valuable, so long as they are not directed AT someone through blame or attacking others. Finding a healthy outlet for your anger is beautiful — for some it’s in their room when the house is empty, or at a kickboxing class, or into the ocean… wherever you feel safe to express.
I’d like to share this link which is a conversation with Joe Hudson in which he articulates the difference between kinked vs. unkinked anger and how to identify it.
Q: What are some ways to calm anger when it arises? I have found none, other than releasing it, and sometimes that is impossible to do. If I get angry before going to bed, It is almost definite that I am going to lose that night's rest.
— Yiannis Krompas
A: This is very related — and you’re right going to bed angry is generally a terrible idea if you actually want to sleep.
It’s high-tone sympathetic charge, so if you can find a way to move the energy — could be a run outside, or a cold shower, or using a pillow or punching bag — just so long as it’s not expressed AT someone directly, then you’re good.
And then after that — focus on relaxation – could be a hot bath, stretching, VOO-HUM toning — we’ll be sharing these exercises in week 3.
Again have a listen to the episode with Joe (above) — and we’ll speak to this more directly in week 4 on emotional fluidity
Q: Something I'd love clarity on is in relation to which branches of the nervous system are active when 1. Practicing down-regulating Breathwork and 2. Whilst we are asleep. As far as I'm aware both are a blend of low-tone dorsal and ventral.
What I don't understand is why ventral is online when 1. Engaging a self-regulatory practice where there is no co-regulation/social engagement 2. Whilst we're asleep and there is no co-regulation/social engagement.
— James Dowler
A: So to answer this fairly technical question — all nervous system branches are always on at all times. Just some more than others.
You’re right that sleep is a blend of low-tone dorsal and ventral.
And we can activate ventral ourselves through anything that brings us into a state of calm or safety. For example a weighted blanket, or toning, or a heart-based metta meditation.
Q: What are appropriate ways to bring this material to young children? Would love to hear any thoughts you might have had on this.
— Scott Drummond
A: Love this question — a few threads come to mind…
- Co-regulation — firstly ensuring that your nervous system is grounded in ventral, with an open awareness, breath in your belly and from there physical touch, relaxed eye contact and a soft voice all communicate safety to children. Infants are actually UNABLE to self-regulate and so rely on co-regulating with the nervous systems of their caregivers. Over time this builds up the strength of their ventral vagal branch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvvNcqhH-Xc
- Toning or Humming — if you haven’t seen it already check out Sam Sager’s video in the alumni stories of using VOO-HUM
- Modelling — kids are aways watching what we do, not really what we say. So the more that you can inhabit healthy ventral vagal and regulate yourself, the more they will emulate this.
- Using 3-2-1 — as an SOS button
- Avoid shaming or blaming them or making them wrong at any time. Instead help them get curious about their own state — what is going on beneath the upset or stress? it’s a practice of welcoming EVERYTHING — which in turn is an invitation to us to do the same when similar emotions or experiences arise in us.
- Through Play — being silly, playing games, laughter… these all strengthen ventral vagal tone.
Q: How does neurodiversity impact the nervous system? (ADHD or autism)
— Angela Smith
A: This is an area that I’m by no means an expert in… but according to Stephen Porges — the founder of Polyvagal theory — ADHD is in part a nervous-system state-regulation disorder. And from what I understand the baseline of dopamine is lowered – so focusing on anything that doesn’t feel like a full fuck yes is challenging — but when there’s genuine excitement then a degree of laser focus is possible.
The body is in a state of defence — so treatments are best applied for self-regulation.
Breathing practices — especially those that emphasise a long exhale or SIGH can activate the Ventral brake which could be useful. We’ll be tackling this in week 3.
Interview with Stephen P. https://youtu.be/-tQ2e4V4wjY?t=453
I’d also invite you to connect with the ‘Neurodivergent x NSM’ space and share what you’ve found to be helpful in your journey exploring neurodivergence.
Q: How can we get better at understanding what gut reaction is trauma-related instincts that we could benefit from unlearning/re-wiring vs ones we should be listening to.
— Caryn Tan
A: This is SUCH a good question — in the moment, when we’re hijacked by a traumatised part, we really don’t know — because it feels to us like truth.
So this is where the ‘I’m onto myself’ practices are so critical — begin to listen for the cognitive canaries — or thought loops or beliefs which tend to mean we’re in a state of binary thinking. Parts-work journaling can be very supportive too.
And often these ‘trauma-related instincts’ are not wrong or bad — they’re generally just younger parts of us with old strategies that kept us safe at some point. I find that journaling or actually inviting them in can allow them to soften.
The best guidance I’ve found is to ask do you overall feel open and expansive in this moment, or closed and contracted in some way or some part of your body?
Q: What is the meta-frame that someone very experienced is using when he's working with his NS throughout the day. Is one's awareness on the nervous system first, and then everything else? Or how does one orient to this work?
— Ryan Vaughn
A: Great question — I would answer this by saying that it’s the capacity to access and listen to both exteroceptive + interoceptive awareness at any moment — depending on what is required.
So the volume isn’t necessarily high all of the time, but the ability to tune in deeply if necessary is there. And there’s also an appreciation for the fluidity + flexibility of states, so there is a confidence in the ability to upshift or downshift as required.
And almost holding the question — how is my nervous system responding in this moment — as an anchor to return to at regular intervals during the day — and then holding the frame of curiosity as to why this might be.
Q: Is the nervous system the mind? If so, what of consciousness?
— Nathan Paterson
A: This is more of a ZEN KOAN than a question…
I like Dan Siegal’s framing in his audiobook ‘The Neurobiology of We’ — where he defines the mind as our capacity for awareness and attention — and the brain as the extended nervous system. Not only in the skull but all throughout the body.
So what of consciousness? Well honestly no-one on the planet — not even a Nobel prize winning neuroscientist knows how the firing of a neuron creates the 'subjective experience of reality’ that we’re all experiencing right now — that’s part of the great mystery that we’re exploring as contemplative scientists.
Q: How do we learn to tell the difference between "good stress" (that helps make the body-mind stronger) and "bad stress" (that depletes the body)? Or are those terms misnomers?
— Alex Mart
A: Good stress or EUSTRESS is what we call stimulation — that is within our window of tolerance or just outside — bad stress is outside of our window or stress which we are unable to recover from afterwards.
All stress depletes the body in the short-term… but the question is do we recover and grow from it?
Stress itself is essential — For example, 250 miles above the earth on the ISS, astronauts will lose bone mass in space because nothing pushes against them.
For example, running this course — it’s creating eu-stress for sure! So I’m doubling down on my recovery afterwards — taking extended non-sleep-deep-rest time in the afternoons just as an athlete might recover after a big event.
Q: Are the methods/tools to help calm the nervous system different, depending on whether a person is affected by chronic stressors (childhood trauma, e.g.) vs. single event trauma?
— Rob Tourtelot
A: This is a great question. And essentially, this brings us back to the theme of this week — with Polyvagal theory — and we’ll be tackling these calming protocols in week 3 but for now, I’ll say: regardless of the underlying trauma — co-regulation with a healthy grounded nervous system will be calming + soothing. We literally borrow resources from others…
Depending on our RESPONSE to the traumatic stressor — this will determine how best to ground and regulate. For instance, if let’s say I was being punished for something as a kid, and at the time we went into shutdown or Dorsal — which as we learned is typically a disassociative response — then the way to find our way back into ventral is usually through grounding into the external senses. Feeling our feet on the ground. Or bringing awareness to the hands. I know some people who hold an ice cube. Physical movement or activation of sympathetic energy can also help to bring back the aliveness — and then ground.
If our default response to the stressor is Sympathetic overwhelm — then the tools to find ventral from here, which include breathing into our lower bellies, physiological sighs, coherence breathing etc.
We’ll be covering these in much more detail in week 3 around self-regulating
Week 2 Q&A
What are the best times in daily life to integrate an NSM protocol?
Can NSM help me manage my ADHD-VAST?
What emergence and surprise will arise in daily life once the NSM protocol?
How can NSM help me take bold risks and less indecisiveness and have a shield so I don't fall into anxiety/depression/fatigue state?
How can NSM help humanity more broadly?
— Edward Harran
Q: If I’m understanding the polyvagal model correctly, to get out of freeze/dorsal should we move towards the sympathetic first? I find calming exercises to not be that useful in freeze
— James Stuber
A: Correct, it's known as the polyvagal ladder — going up through Sympathetic from Dorsal is usually most effective — and then finding your way to ventral from there.
Q: Whats your take on this article (link) about polyvagal theory?
— Yiannis Krompas
A: I spoke to it briefly in the episode but I think it would be helpful to elaborate here as well. Polyvagal theory has received its fair share of rebuttals and criticisms, most of which are listed and addressed directly on the institute's website (https://www.polyvagalinstitute.org/background)
I have had lengthy discussions with mentors + teachers (including Satori Clarke, who will be joining us for a neuroscience Q&A in week 5) with regard to some of the PVT criticisms — and the theme that we kept returning to (as James spoke to above), is that whilst there is a genuine risk of over-simplifying these immensely complex systems (e.g. all three branches are active all of the time, just to different degrees), it does seem to provide an immensely useful map of the territory that no-one, not even Nobel-prize winning neuroscientists as of yet, fully understand.
And speaking from my own experience as an FBR breathwork practitioner, the theory has been supported by what I've witnessed in myself and in working with 1:1 clients, for example, noticing the exact moment when the dorsal fuse kicks in and the client 'checks out' of their experience after spending too long in a high-tone sympathetic state, or witnessing how a felt sense of ventral safety correlates with breath down in the lower belly & spontaneous 'sighs'.
So my conclusion, and the reason that I opted to make PVT such a central part of this training, is that I take it to be a compelling and highly actionable working hypothesis — and with that said, I'd also love to see more in-depth studies + research carried out (ideally by those other than Porges himself) to bring greater clarity and data to the underlying mechanisms at play. My guess is that this will happen naturally as a by-product of the research being carried out by MAPS and John Hopkins.
So thank you for raising this question, and I hope that gives some helpful additional context.
Q: A clarification on breathing practices names. I think you called the first practice in the live call "coherence breathing" with a pattern of 3in-2hold-5out. I knew coherence breathing to be 5in-5out (or 5.5sec from J. Nestor book), so that's similar in count but without hold. Given that inhale and inhale-hold have pretty similar results on the NS I don't expect major differences between these two but I was mostly curious about the naming and the origin of this 3-2-5 pattern.
— Andrea Soverini
A: You're right that coherence breathing is typically 4-4 or 5-5, however in my experience of guiding these practices, people have mentioned that breathing in for a count of five can be 'too much' out of the gate — and my understanding of what brings about the phenomenon of coherence or 'resonance frequency' is that it arises from the number of breaths per minute. So I've just developed a preference for this slight variation, and the felt sense of a calming effect from holding at the top for two before exhaling, however, this may also just be personal preference and if you prefer in for 5.5s and exhaling for 5.5s then absolutely go with that.
Q: To what extent, if any, will we cover NSM for physical pain? Thank you.
— Steve Diamond
A: We won't be specifically covering working with physical pain (not my area of expertise), but there's a deep dive episode on Huberman Labs that includes protocols for managing pain and accelerating tissue repair: https://hubermanlab.com/control-pain-and-heal-faster-with-your-brain/
Q: Are you familiar with the nasal cycle test. Where you can check whether your body is in a sympathetic, fight or flight state, or a parasympathetic, rest and digest state. If so, thoughts on usefulness? https://youtu.be/jzEaCdMvYp0
— Chris Scott
A: I have come across it yes, it's a really interesting + relatively recent area of research (e.g. during sleep there's usually an increase in cycle duration), that said I find it challenging to use this specific test to get concrete answers either way (both sides are usually open), and there are other ways of assessing if we're in sympathetic or parasympathetic dominant states — but if it seems to work for you and helps then great!
Q: I've suffered from extreme cold since adolescence (even in summer I feel really cold all the time) and when I am anxious or nervous for a specific reason I get really hot and my palms sweat. I've been noticing recently that I tend to hold my breath right before these heat comes. I wonder if I am in a perpetual freeze state that goes to the other extreme when I get somehow activated. What do you think? Can the freeze state literally produce a cold feeling?
— Tali Kimelman
A: I checked in with Ed Dangerfield (one of my mentors) about this, and a few curiosities emerged from his side:
First, is it a perception of being cold, or is your skin temperature also colder than average? (could be tested quite easily)
Second, individuals who have experienced general anesthetic can sometimes relieve cold tremors (and this can almost be running half on in the background) and so the curiosity was around if this is something you've experienced, then working with a 1:1 breathworker or somatic practitioner could be worth exploring.
Finally, could be interesting to explore some of the more activating breathing practices (i.e. breath of fire) or explore acupuncture (with a skilled practitioner) to relieve any imbalances.
Q: What is the relationship between the 3 modes and flow state? On one had I definitely experience regularly that a "good" amount of Sympathetic arousal is great to get focus and energy to accomplish a task, at the same time there is at least one version of "flow" that I experience when I am primarily in Ventral. Today we discussed that all modes are happening just in different amounts. How does flow fit into this?
— Mattia Gheda
A: the state that we call 'flow' is essentially a blend of high-tone Sympathetic arousal + Ventral branches online at the same time (the same is true during play and sex), when there is both activation energy combined with a sense of grounded safety and calm. There are other factors that influence flow, e.g is there a clear goal or challenge (high stakes also help with the sympathetic arousal, imagine say Alex Hannold Free-Soloing El Capitan). And it's also why (as Jamie Wheal writes in Stealing Fire) that flow states use up a lot of the body's resources and require recovery time after). Does that help to clarify?
Q: …follow on from above question. Curious to your tips around recovery as well (although I imagine some of it will be covered later in the course)
— Mattia Gheda
A: the NSDR protocols from this week are two of the most effective + efficient means of recovery after intense flow that I know of (also great for integrating any new muscle memory or knowledge as well as physical recovery)
Q: Any recommendations or links to good coherence breathing protocols?
— Will Abramson
A: here's a 10-minute guided 'Cadence Breathing' practice that I've recorded which you're welcome to use 🫁
Otherwise, the 'Breathwrk' + 'Othership' apps have several good recordings (although both require paid monthly subscriptions)
Q: Something I notice is that I get tense really easily, and by the end of the day, I'll have really deep muscle tension and pain. Is it common to hold stress as physical tension, especially in sympathetic or dorsal overwhelm, and what parts of the NSM course do you think will be most helpful in teaching tools for releasing tension more regularly?
I’ve noticed on my mind-body journey that so much of my physical tension has to do with holding onto things and having trouble letting go. Often when I’m doing a body scan meditation and mindfully softening tension, or doing progressive muscle relaxation, I’m able to notice, whoa, why am I still holding on to XYZ thing for dear life when it’s no longer serving me? And my question for you- do you think letting go mentally will help with letting go physically; the other way around; or both?
— Ross Matican
A: yes absolutely, in fact I'd go as far to say that our mental states or thoughts often have subtle corresponding contractions. For example, if I'm avoiding doing something (like answer emails to give a mundane example) sometimes I'll notice a slight increase in tension in my right neck and jaw.
Practicing body scans (or something like a vipassana meditation) is helpful for highlighting all of these subtle tensions, as you say. And the tension is bi-directional, meaning that you can, in theory, let go of the mental, and the physical will relax – and visa versa. However, in my experience, working with the physical tension first and dropping the mental stories entirely tends to be the most effective.
This is a subject we can explore at depth with when he joins us for the live Q&A (https://community.nsmastery.com/c/live-nsm-sessions/eddie-ulm) on Nov 23rd.
Q: I had a really interesting experience yesterday. I was out in the woods to co-regulate. I went tree hugging. Intuitively, on the exhale I started humming. it felt so good for my nervous system. I went on walking and humming, experimenting with different pitches, to see which one feels better. I ended up with a specific pitch that felt really regulating. Out of curiosity, I opened my phone to see what frequency that was; it was exactly 196 Hz. I googled it, and 196 Hz, is the frequency of G in the 3rd octave of a piano!!! I was amazed.
Can you elaborate on my experience? Are there certain frequencies that people prefer when they want to regulate? Does it depend on the person, and/or on what they are feeling? Anything else that comes to mind?
— Yiannis Krompas
A: Thanks for sharing this — you must have a good voice to hit the note spot on at that frequency ;) – I'm not well versed in the science behind this but know some practitioners that play certain frequencies (e.g. using sound bowls or tuning forks) to clear emotional blockages in different parts of the body.
So for example, 196Hz is (according to the yogis) associated with the vibratory quality of the 'throat', which may have been why it felt expansive and opening for you whilst in the woods 🌳🎵 My felt experience (and I'm afraid I haven't dug into any science here), is that different frequencies correlate to different brain-wave states and also clusters of neurons in the body. To give an example There's a 19 minute 'tibetan bowl' track on Spotify that never fails to put me into a slightly altered and more open state, try giving it a listen after an NSDR practice and see how you feel: https://open.spotify.com/track/3cTRiVedT0Z0pvdpicJ7a5?si=dcf8ccc14a8347cd
Q: I did both the APE and NSDR protocols today which were cool to experiment with. I've definitely been told by a homeopath to experiment with yoga nidra before when I went with sleep issues, but it was useful to understand the theory behind it. In both cases, I struggled with the interoception around emotions. It didn't feel intuitive in the same way as the A and the P. Is this common? I'm hoping as I practice more in the coming days and weeks it'll hopefully become clearer.
— Ama Deol
A: Thanks for this question. Once we've been through week 4's theory around emotions I hope this be clearer. But in the meantime, you can think of emotions as any 'internal sensations' or general inner atmosphere (like reporting on your internal weather system). And if there's nothing obvious or clear to sense into, then that's what you're noticing. Does that make sense?
Q: During the Q&A yesterday, you talked about how, during a conflict with Kelly, you excused yourself to process your emotional response. You said you did some stretching and breathing followed by a "self-guided journey" of some kind, which revealed where the response was coming from. It sounded like it had something to do with delving into your childhood. I'd love to know more about this self-guided journey if you're open to sharing? Maybe a bit beyond the NSM curriculum, but it certainly sparked my curiosity. Thanks!
— Jonathan Carson
A: Thanks for the question, yes essentially it began as an intention to go through a self-guided conscious connected breathing journey. I put on an eye mask and a playlist and, from there, began connecting to my breath. In this case, I didn't need to breathe for long as the emotions were so close to the surface and 'ready to pop' so to speak (not exactly a technical term but I'm sure you get the point). The experience that ended up arising was a tension/constriction in the left side of my neck, followed by expressions of anger – followed by grief/sadness – and then I felt a 'letting go' of sorts and dropped into relaxation + integration. I'll perhaps record an episode for next week's curriculum to use this as something of a case study. Also wish to emphasize that at this point, I'm very familiar and comfortable with guiding myself into these types of experiences (likely a few hundred over the past few years), but in the early days having someone there as a sitter or guide (someone who is trained in trauma-aware somatics) to hold space was invaluable.
Q: I’ve been using the Endel app in the evenings, and it’s definitely helped me fall asleep. I think I’m noticing improved quality of sleep, also, but it’s too soon to tell for certain. But… I don’t actually understand what it’s doing. Can someone help me understand what the science actually is? Or why it works?
— Angela Smith
A: Glad you found it helpful, here are some links with some further reading + learning
Q: Thanks for the breathing protocol. The long exhales are hard for me. Feel like I really need some help with my bolt score.
— Will Abramson
A: Training to improve the BOLT score was one of the pieces that I took out of the core curriculum (to keep to the five weeks), however, I do think it's an extremely beneficial practice to increase CO2 tolerance and one that can be done when walking (just exhale normally, and then hold your breathe out for as many paces as possible until you feel a relatively strong urge to breathe). For reference, 20-30 is around average. 40 is good. With training 60-80 is entirely possible.
Q: 2 questions/reflections that came up listening to Week 3 and are very alive for me.
1. I was reflecting on the role alcohol plays in my life as something I turn to when in need of regulation. I've gone back and forth for most of my adult life on whether alcohol plays a positive or negative role in my life, whether to moderate my intake, quit completely, or just enjoy. I was reminded as I reflected on it again that I don't really believe that there is anything that can replace what it offers. (I'm not saying this is true, just that this is the belief I discovered). What it seems to offer is: a sense of fun, something I really look forward to; a depth and ease of connection with friends; a sense of taking me out of my head and not taking things so seriously. Particularly in terms of connection - it is so embedded in society, in so many of the activities I engage in (e.g. playing music, socialising with friends) - I just don't think anything can fulfil the role it has. Essentially, in order to replace it, I feel as though I would have to change my life fundamentally, especially in terms of the friends I spend time with, which is such an enormous sacrifice. People can say, 'if you need drink to hang out with your friends, maybe they aren't friends' but it's not that simple. Alcohol (and other intoxicants) has been the catalyst for these friendships for the last 15-20 years, for so many incredible shared experiences. I love and care about these people so much and spending time with them without drinking often simply feels unnatural and strained. I don't know. I keep coming up against this wall with alcohol, acknowledging that quitting it would influence my life in all of these demonstrably positive ways, and yet feeling that my life without it is one of lack and suppressed desire. I have no idea if most of the people on this course still use alcohol or have 'grown out' of it, but if it's at all relevant to the group I'd love to discuss this in more detail, as I think it's often not given enough attention or considered somehow taboo in wellness circles.
2. I am employed by someone who is very dysregulated - not at all aware of their emotions nor how contagious they can be. The role is one which is very emotionally involved, where work/leisure boundaries are often blurry, as it involves educating/looking after this person's children. I have asked myself for a while now whether I am stable/solid enough to 'stay in my power', act with integrity and continue to grow and develop as a person in the role, or whether I would be best to cut my losses and find other employment. Of course, the flip-side is that I can play a positive role in offering them a relatively well-emotionally regulated nervous system to support their own regulation. This is important, not only for my employer, but for the children involved in our 'co-regulatory system', who I really care about and want to support. The broader question here I suppose is: How does one decide whether to protect oneself or offer support to someone suffering/struggling?
— Ronan Loughney
A: Thanks for these thoughtful shares. With regards to the first part of your question, I imagine that exploring our relationship with alcohol is something that is alive for many here as well, so appreciate you raising it.
There's a lot to unpack in terms of looking at it objectively from a health perspective, the cultural expectations + associations, and then it's capacity to act as a stand-in for ventral down-regulation. I'm happy to go into each of these, but what I'm hearing at the heart of your question is exploring the belief that nothing entirely replaces what it can offer in terms of lubricating deeper connections.
And alongside, perhaps the fear that if you were to become a 'non-drinker', this might negatively impact your current and/or future friendships. These are big questions. And definitely ones worth sitting with and reflecting deeply on. I'd also offer that there is no right or wrong way so long as you are intentionally choosing for yourself.
One invitation (or perhaps challenge) that comes to mind — would be to test the hypothesis that you wouldn't be able to not only maintain but potentially deepen your connections and friendships without the use of alcohol, for say a month (or however long). My sense is that if you were to frame this as an experiment (rather than in a way that might lead others to feel guilty or judged for drinking), and during that period explore for yourself what are the moments or experiences or ways of being that reliably lead to connection? Perhaps it would feel awkward in the beginning, but this would also be rich territory for self-exploration. Joe Hudson, who will be joining for the Q&A next week talks about living in VIEW (Vulnerability, Impartiality, Empathy & Wonder) and that if we are able to fully inhabit these four states simultaneously, then connection cannot help but emerge.
And thank you for the second question — my sense is that there would be a lot to unpack here and that it might be best suited to bring either to one of our live sessions or for Joe Hudson's hot-seat coaching session next Thursday.
Hope that helps and happy to continue these threads on a live call 🙏
1. I asked in the Conni section as well, and I want to articulate it a bit better. What are you go to tools for emotional release? Anger? I have some processes but they tend to harm my voice, and as a singer , I don’t want their effect compounding. I am really curious wether you, or anyone from the community has more optimal ways of releasing repressed anger without screaming
2. I am an ultra light sleeper. I can wake up even wearing earplugs. I wake up when my partner makes up even a micro-movement. It feels like a curse. I am wondering if you know of anything that can make you less sensitive to noise and/or movement while sleeping.
3. Can you also please tell me your opinion on cold showers and their role in the nervous system regulation / dysregulation?
— Yiannis Krompas
A: Thanks for these questions,
1. re: emotional release tools, this will be the focus of next week so if it's alright with you let's wait until that theory is live, and then if you still have questions let me know. To answer briefly, yes it's entirely possible to move anger without screaming, pushing against something or pillow pounding (being careful of safety here), or lying on a bed and pounding the ground beside you are all effective... and really the main thing is less about the external and more 'feeling' what is there.
2. re: ultra-light sleeping — that's a challenging one... might have some thoughts, all that comes to mind for me is giving yourself a longer time to unwind in the evenings before sleep (stretching, hot bath etc.) to allow your body to fall into deeper states of sleep where there is less sensitivity to movement. Also on a practical level king mattresses are always helpful if that's available 🛌 😃
3. my opinion on cold showers is probably heavily biased because I've always loved them, and cold water swimming and ice-baths for pretty much as long as I can remember. But two things come to mind, in terms of the science — there is now pretty solid data that so-called 'cold thermogenesis' is highly beneficial for promoting (healthy) dopamine release, improving metabolic health, increasing our resilience and relationship to stress, increasing testosterone levels in men, brown fat and even reducing symptoms of depression. There's a lot there! I haven't seen data on this but my guess is that cold showers lead to these benefits but to a lesser extent than an ice bath 🧊 so as far as I'm aware there is zero downside to cold-exposure (with the possible exception of someone suffering from adrenal fatigue, in which case spiking adrenaline might not be advisable in the short term, but this would be something to consult a medical professional on, which I am not). And on a more anecdotal level — when I was going through some of the most emotionally turbulent times in my life in the midst of grief, swimming in the cold ocean each morning felt like it brought me back to life and kept me invigorated in such a way that I don't know what I would have done without those daily cold 🏊♂️
Q: a question about co-regulation. Co-regulation can go both ways-- the upset person can end up feeling calmer, but the calm person can end up feeling more upset. Are there any techniques to make it more positive, and less about just dumping negative emotions on someone else?
— Ellen Crain
A: Re: co-regulation, yes it absolutely does go two ways. When it's in a less-positive context (say an angry boss), it's referred to as 'emotional contagion' in the literature (which is a pretty terrible term IMO). With regards to requesting someone else's presence to co-regulate — the first piece, and this so *key*, is to begin by making a request along the lines of: 'hey [person X], I'm noticing that I'm feeling [Y], do you have capacity to hear some of this or listen?' Generally, the response might be 'yes, sure let's find a space' or 'not right now but let's talk later today/tomorrow' etc. And sometimes it can also be helpful to clarify that you're not looking for advice (unless you are), but just someone to listen or hold space for you.From there, assuming that you are the one sharing, to do so skilfully (which is a practice) it's very helpful to own your experience (i.e. try to avoid blaming others), and tune into the actual feelings, as opposed to the stories that may arise about them (which always requires vulnerability to a greater or lesser degree). My experience is that listening to someone who is sharing their emotional experience from this place, is that it's actually a gift to receive and I usually feel more connected to myself and grateful for the experience afterwards.Does that help to answer your question? Is there anything else?
Q: …follow-up from above: that helps some, but what I was thinking of the less intentional aspect. Specifically, my husband and I have been married forever and if one of us is stressed about something, even if they aren't taking it out on anyone, the other notices on some level and their stress level rises too (which is now another source of stress for the first person). It's a real downside to both of us working from home-- we're constantly influencing each other's mood, and stress can't always be avoided.
A: Okay thanks for clarifying Ellen — it's a great inquiry. There are a few things that come to mind here: The first is acknowledging that yes, your nervous system is going to listen and respond to the nervous system of those humans around you — and at the same time we are each 100% responsible for how we show up, and finding ways to down-regulate if needed. With regards to 'stress can't always be avoided' — it's very true, we're human! we sign up for crazy things like marriage, having children or even running online courses 😃 there is inherent 'stress' in so many of the areas of life that also bring us so much joy and fulfilment. Stress (i.e. activation energy) within our window is wonderful! Just so long as you can create space (for yourself or together) to unwind and downshift in the evening. That said, and perhaps on a more practical level — I imagine you may have already explored this together, but perhaps there's an opportunity for you to both share the impact that your partners state has on you at times (without judgement or trying to change them). And then if there's receptivity + mutual curiosity — exploring fun micro-rituals together in the transition moments during the day. Does that feel do-able? It could be a five minute walk outside together (Kelly and I work from home next to each other as well and will often take an NSDR together after lunch) or knowing you perhaps throwing pottery after the work day is done? Is this helpful?