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Polyvagal Theory

“Neuroception”, as defined by Stephen Porges, Ph.D. describes whether stimuli are safe or dangerous in our environment.

If we grow up with Adverse Childhood Experiences (A.C.E.) for instance, abuse or neglect or high levels of stress; we become wired in to see danger.  If chronic misattunement with our primary caregiver occurred, we may never have learned to know what safety really feels like.

Thus, an over-activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System in the form of freezing or dissociation occurred in order to survive. This shut down state may persist in adulthood and therefore we don’t see or we ignore threats.

In our next stage of development we learn to fight or to flee to get our needs met and receive protection. If that wasn’t resourced, hyper arousal and vigilance persist.

Lacking safety, the most evolved branch of the Vagus Nerve, the Ventral Vagus, cannot thrive.

Therefore our Social Nervous System – our ability to communicate, ask for help, cooperate with others, and Learn – is compromised or missing.

Embodiment – knowing what we think and feel inside – as Feldenkrais teachers is essential to our work in connecting with ourselves and our Clients.

It’s vital that we understand this as practitioners working with our clients so we can understand why they might be blocked, freezing or unable to learn a new way of movement. And it’s vital that we as practitioners are able to be totally available to ourselves, and to also have better communication with others.


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