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Somatic Science Relational Dynamics Experiments - Working with parts of Our Self

Parts of the self and the capacity for presencing our experience

The Somatic Science view of happiness is founded on nervous system regulation.

Definitions of key words in this document

Cognition: The capacity for the basic processing of information at the levels of attention, language, learning, memory, perception and thought.

Metacognition: The capacity for awareness or analysis of one's own cognitive processes.

Threat response cycle (TRC): The key word here is cycle. When faced with a threat or stress, the body responds by mobilizing energy to deal with that stress or threat. This is the activation phase. Then, when the event is over, a similar response occurs, but in reverse. This is the deactivation phase. Letting the energy generated to meet the stress/threat back out of the body and re-establishing a kind of equilibrium: a state of relaxed alertness.

Dorsal vagal complex (DVC): The dorsal branch of the vagus originates in the dorsal motor nucleus and is
considered the phylogenetically older branch. This branch is unmyelinated and exists in most vertebrates. This
branch is also known as the “dumb or vegetative vagus” because it is associated with primal survival strategies of primitive
vertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. Under great stress, these animals immobilize when threatened, conserving
their metabolic resources.
The DVC provides primary control of subdiaphragmatic visceral organs, such as the digestive tract. Under normal
conditions, the DVC maintains regulation of these digestive processes. However, prolonged disinhibition can be
lethal for mammals, as it results in depressed breathing and very low heart rate and blood pressure.

Ventral vagal complex (VVC): With increased neural complexity seen in mammals (due to phylogenetic
development) evolved a more sophisticated system to enrich behavioral and affective responses to an increasingly
complex environment. The ventral branch of the vagus originates in the nucleus ambiguus and is myelinated to
provide more control and speed in energy processing. This branch is also known as the “smart vagus” because it is
associated with the regulation of sympathetic “fight or flight” behaviors in the service of pro-social behaviors. These
behaviors include social communication and self-soothing and calming. In other words, this branch of the vagus can
inhibit or disinhibit defensive limbic circuits, depending on the situation. The VVC provides primary control of
supradiaphragmatic visceral organs, such as the esophagus, bronchi, pharynx, and larynx. The VVC also exerts
important influence on the heart. When vagal tone to the heart’s pacemaker is high, a baseline or resting heart rate is
produced. In other words, the vagus acts as a restraint, or brake, limiting heart rate. However, when vagal tone is
removed, there is little inhibition to the pacemaker, and so rapid mobilization (“fight/flight”) can be activated in times
of stress.

Curiosity: (from Latin cūriōsitās, from cūriōsus "careful, diligent, curious", akin to cura "care") is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in humans and other animals. Curiosity is heavily associated with all aspects of human development, in which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill.

The term curiosity can also be used to denote the behavior or emotion of being curious, in regard to the desire to gain knowledge or information. Curiosity as a behavior and emotion is attributed over millennia as the driving force behind not only human development, but developments in science, language, and industry

Definitions pertaining to the 4 dimensions of human experience

Apperception: An abstract imaginal process whereby past experience is compared to itself or other experiences. The brain generates apperceptions as images (concepts) in short-term memory and if they remain useful are later committed to long-term memory. Note that this process initially evolved for the purpose of survival.

Interoception: Sensory detection by an organism of the environment inside the confines of its skin.

Exteroception: Sensory detection by an organism of the environment outside the confines of its skin.

Behavior: Actions of the body that can be voluntary and involuntary. Behaviors can also be explicit or implicit.  Many explicit behaviors that are under voluntary motor control can occur at an implicit level and are thus unconscious. Most implicit behaviors are required for the functioning of the autonomic nervous system and cannot become explicit because that would result in the almost immediate death of the body (imagine having to control your heart rate 24 hours a day.) Some implicit behaviors such as breathing can be made explicit under limited circumstances.

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