What does it mean to feel safe? Everyone is talking about it. There is so much talk (especially from me) about down-regulating the nervous system. It’s very easy to get very lost in the oceans of suggestions on how to down-regulate, and what is trauma sensitive….
But all of these topics, techniques and useful applications are completely dependent on the situation.
The situation is different between those who:
- don’t know they are in a trauma-response situation
- are at the very beginning of their journey of managing their nervous system
- have no experience in recognising and creating safe environments
- are learning to find their way in establishing safe environments
.....Among many more other examples. Then there is a huge difference between someone who has worked with:
People who are dealing with general anxiety vs People who have suffered physical, emotional, and psychological traumas
Although what the nervous system is doing is technically the same, the way we navigate through it is very different. This is why I have a big issue with labels such as trauma-sensitive but are general in their approach to creating safe spaces.
Just because someone says ‘this is a safe space’ — does NOT make it a safe space until we, I, the individual decide so.
There are a few indicators to see whether someone has been running on adrenaline…
In Face Reading, we call these the 3-sided eyes. In severe cases, it’s the 4-sided eyes.
This means that it is easy to see the whites of the eyes either in 3 or 4 spaces.
The regular nervous system looks like whites on either side of the pupils but when we see white on either side AS WELL as above or below, or both, then we need to pay attention to how much adrenaline the person is functioning on.
If you are unable to see someone’s eyes then other signs of high adrenaline overload are like watching someone who’s had too much coffee. They may come across as unsteady and frantic, many even manic for long periods of time.
We are supposed to have adrenalin spikes, they are healthy for us, to help us to get up and go. But we are not supposed to be relying on it often. Daily, even weekly busts of intense emotions based on anxiety and fear is a lot!
Now, what do we do?
We teach them how to develop the skills to empower themselves to be safe.
How do we do that?
Remember that most people who have not learned to develop safe boundaries are that way because they were essentially never taught. It is likely that said individuals may be looking elsewhere to discover techniques to enhance the feeling of safety.
This is such a great way to build on a medicine bag of techniques for the ailment of excess adrenaline.
There is ONE catch though………
We don’t know WHY.
A lot of the stuff that we see around vagus nerve stimulation is excellent because it is informative and teaches the individual to understand their nervous system and then more easily observe, or be with it.
A lot of folks are left being told ‘trust in your feelings’ — although I strongly believe in this teaching. It’s only applicable to those who have learned ‘how to feel’. If someone has not developed healthy levels of discernment then the trauma-response of needing someone to tell them what to do (or a version of that) supersedes their ability to work out how to be self-empowering in the moment of distress.
At JDS, we focus on breathing to enable Intra-Abdominal Pressure because when we understand what it feels like to be stable, we can easily and quickly discern when we are moving without stability.
The way classes are sequenced reflects developmental physiology so that we can easily understand how a human being develops the ability to move.
By learning basic anatomy, we understand what a joint or muscle is supposed to and is able to do. This helps us to stay within the parameters that are created by the human body. Once someone has learned those basic principles, regardless of what type of movement practise they do, they will be able to apply it and educate themselves and their students to move within the safe parameters of the human body.
I hope this post comforts you in terms of how to maintain physical levels of safe moving and build on that in your own explorative way to work out what works for you.
I hope that you develop the stability in your breath and movement patterns to recognise that you are the only person who can decide if you are safe or not, and with some basic information, can become self-empowered to apply the feeling of safety in all areas of your life.
For in-person training in Anatomy check out:
- Edinburgh - Hands on assists CET (please note the venue for this training is likely going to change but it will still be in Edinburgh).
For practices to feel safe with divinity check out: - Cultivating Compassion 3: Tear Drops of Quan Yin (JDS)