How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory
by Deborah Dana
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Pub Date 09 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 09 Nov 2021
Discover your body’s neural pathways to calmness, safety, and connection.
An intense conversation, a spat with a partner, or even an obnoxious tweet—these situations aren’t life-or-death, yet we often react as if they are. That’s because our bodies treat most perceived threats the same way. Yet one approach has proven to be incredibly effective in training our nervous system to stop overreacting and start responding to the world with greater safety and ease: Polyvagal Theory.
In Anchored, expert teacher Deb Dana shares a down-to-earth presentation of Polyvagal Theory, then brings the science to life with practical, everyday ways to transform your relationship with your body. Using field-tested techniques, Dana helps you master the skills to become more aware of your nervous system moment to moment—and change the way you respond to the great and small challenges of life.
Here, you’ll explore:
• Polyvagal Theory—get to know the biology and function of your vagus nerve, the highway of the nervous system
• Befriending Your Nervous System—attune to what’s going on in your body by developing your “neuroception”
• Using Your Vagal Brake—discover key techniques to consciously regulate the intensity of your emotions
• Connection and Protection—learn to recognize and influence your internal cues for safety and danger
• Your Social Engagement System—find ways to create nourishing relationships with others and the world around you
• Practices and guidance to gently shape your nervous system for greater resilience, intuition, safety, and wonder
Through guided imagery, meditation, self-inquiry, and more, Anchored offers a practical user’s manual for moving from a place of fear and panic into a grounded space of balance and confidence. “Once we know how our nervous system works, we can work with it,” teaches Deb Dana. “We can learn to access an embodied, biological resource that is always present, available, and there to guide us toward well-being.”
“Presenting Stephen Porges’s justly celebrated Polyvagal Theory in clear and concise language for the layperson, in Anchored Deb Dana guides us, by means of simple exercises, to understand and befriend our autonomic nervous system, engaging its healing capacities to connect with ourselves and with our social world.” ―Gabor Maté, MD, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
“Master trauma therapist and clinical trainer Deb Dana is already well known and deeply appreciated for the deftness of her translations of obtuse science―neuroception and autonomic hierarchy―into accessible common sense. We work with Stories, Actions, Feelings, and Embodied sensations to come home to safety, connection, and well-being. In Anchored, she radically―and masterfully―shifts the entire focus of our current paradigms of healing and growth to a new vocabulary and new practices for regulating the (re)activity of the human nervous system that underlies all of our personal struggles and the stories we tell ourselves about them. Deb offers a wealth of very doable explorations and practices for noticing, befriending, shifting, and shaping our automatic responses to cues of safety and danger, and leads us through vivid examples and the practical explorations that reliably lead us home to safety, connection, and well-being. We can all be grateful for the wise guidance that is the Anchored road map.” ―Linda Graham, MFT, author of Resilience
“Anchored is a beautiful, almost lyrical guide to befriending our nervous system in ways that allow us to immerse ourselves more fully in the mysterious wonders of living and loving. Deb Dana has elegantly translated neuroscience into everyday words and experiences that illustrate how we move in and out of states of safe connection and states of protecting ourselves, guided by our wondrously complex and adaptive nervous system. Full of examples and simple, clear exercises, this lovely book gently supports a growing curiosity and awareness of the subtle shifts in our bodies as our nervous system reflects old stories and creates new ones about who we are and how we move through the world. Readers from all walks of life will find this an accessible and practical book for recognizing and understanding patterns of protection that hold us back and how to regularly (re)anchor ourselves in deep loving and living.” ―Kathy Steele, MN, CS, coauthor of Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation
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