September 2022 — A note from Psychotherapist Silvia Stenitzer: Welcome! Today I continue exploring and getting to know our autonomous nervous system as a way to cultivate our ability to listen to our inner voice and autonomic wisdom. In these times of information overload every day, it can be challenging to keep in touch with ourselves and what our truth is and not be overwhelmed by what is going on hour by hour in our world.
How can befriending your nervous system help you with staying connected to yourself and find an anchor amid the chaos? It takes practice. Giving yourself some time to connect with your body, mind, your nervous system will create space for you! Breath, movement, inward attention, compassionate self-touch, and putting your hands on your heart or belly are direct communication paths to your nervous system.
Our nervous system is the neurobiological foundation of all our lived experiences. Our thoughts, emotions, and actions are physically-based and originate in our nervous system. Our behavior is dictated by the state that our nervous system is in at a given moment.
For example, if your nervous system is in a state of ease and safety, your breath and heartbeat are at a normal rate, and you are curious and open to others and connected to yourself; if your NS detects any danger, it immediately goes into fight/flight which entails physiological changes within a 10th of a second: your breath and heart rate increase, your body tenses, your gaze changes, you can start sweating or feeling cold or hot; now you are not so connected with yourself anymore because your nervous system is ready to gear up for fight or flight. Most likely, You are not able to detect friendly faces and people outside; your NS has moved into a state of protection, out of the connection.
If the NS decides that fight/flight will not keep you safe (physical and emotional safety are the same as the NS), it will automatically go into freeze or collapse. in this NS state, the physiological processes are such that the body starts to shut down; breath and heart rate slow down (sometimes dangerously slow), your digestive systems shut down, and you can feel numb, dissociated, and helpless. In this state, you cannot connect with anyone but want to hide and disappear. What we want is a flexible, resilient NS, meaning that after a challenge that activates our sympathetic state, our NS easily comes back to some ease; also, if we experience a shock and freeze for a moment when the treat, the event is over, breath flows and get us back into sympathetic first and then to the state of ease rather quickly and smoothly.
Truly, we all, all of our ANS, go through the same predictable neural pattern all day; feeling safe, content, happy, anxious, agitated, angry, scared, defeated, bereft, helpless, or ashamed (to mention only a few experiences in each state). If we become more conscious of this ongoing underlying process, we can influence and shape our NS towards safety and connection and have more choices of how to respond instead of having to react or being hijacked by our survival reactivity.
Turning inward, however, can sometimes be challenging and even scary; so many thoughts and emotions, and sensations happening all at once. So, I would like to offer you that we are tuning inward together.
Once again, I would like us today, together, to turn inward, to connect with our bodies, our minds, and ourselves.
- Push play to listen to today’s mediation.
- Click here to read along: Silvia Stenitzer’s Nervous System Meditation, Connection & Belonging
Silvia believes: Coming to therapy is an act of love. My own suffering and longing for full expression and aliveness have led me on an ever-evolving journey inward. I could not have embarked on this perilous adventure alone: for good parts of the way, I have found support and encouragement from insightful therapists, the wisdom of Yoga, a most poetic Qi-Gong practice, and countless serendipitous offerings from friends and strangers. A deep desire for connection and intimacy grew my passion to work with people therapeutically and creatively.
I use an eclectic approach: I emphasize experiential therapies such as action methods, psychodrama, embodied mindfulness practice, interpersonal neurobiology, and principles of C.G. Jung’s psychology. Drawing, painting, and embodying our experiences offer insight into our unconscious ways of living life. The body serves us so beautifully as a source of story, memory, and inspiration. Sensory self-awareness forms the basis for us to know what we feel and how we are. This self-knowledge can help relieve our suffering and guide us towards personal fulfillment and satisfying meaningful relationships.
In my work: I trust the deep wisdom of the body, our innate self-healing abilities, and the magic of interpersonal connection. Movement, action, psychodrama, improvisation, art expression, dreams, play, and meditation are our allies on the journey to Self; a recovered/reconnected Self that then can engage compassionately with the “other,” living and thriving in the interconnectedness of all.
My clients: I welcome individuals, couples, and groups with emotional issues, including anxiety, depression, loss, grief, body-and-health-related challenges, life transitions, relationship problems, and personal growth.