Updated: May 15, 2021
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This is written for you, the one who is aware of reading these words right here, right now. You can watch the video below at any time to enjoy a relational segment devoted to safety and well-being.
We propose a simple dialectic, or in the language of information science, an algorithm. You could say it is an algorithm of freedom, liberation, well being or simply, ease.
What we propose is a set of instructions that, given some set of initial conditions, can be performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a certain goal that has a recognizable set of end conditions (All-Is-Wellness). The key distinction is that the instructions can only be followed with the conscious use of the mind. Only by fine-tuning our attention to here and now can we apply this to our self.
If we were to try and apply this from the dissociated state of separation resulting from the functioning of the dorsal vagal complex (DVC), then we could not make conscious use of the mind. The nervous system needs to be in a state of assimilation and openness to experience, one where the ventral vagal complex (VVC) is up-regulated. Otherwise, at best we will improve the experiences of the body and at worst it will be meaningless.
Right here, right now, am I aware?
If you answer yes, then it is possible to apply this dialectic-algorithm. If the answer is no, then we can investigate this. With this in mind (reason) we can ask a different question:
Is it true that all is not well right here right now? Is it REALLY true?
Look around the space where your body is located, let it make sure that there are no threats as you ask yourself this question, sincerely from your heart. Then you can receive the answer and, most likely it is: No, it is not true that here and now all is not well. Then, we can record the experiences of the body as the nervous system down-regulates the threat response cycle. We can relax into the presence that we are, open and spacious, like an even smoothness everywhere. We can breathe in the spaciousness of our own being - all is well.
If the answer to the question: Is it true that ALL is not well right here, right now? is Yes, then we can apply the dialectic to an object of threat in our experience. If I say that yes, all is not well, then who am I?
Am I whatever is wrong that causes me to say this, or am I whoever it is that is aware of this cause? If I say yes, all is not well - and I am experiencing fear for example- then the following dialectic can flush it out further:
This dialectic omits the details of the experience, obviously. But fear is actually an experience that we can be aware of in terms of physiological energy, just like any other. This energy is perceived through the central nervous system as sensations and/or images. The sensations associated with fear are usually symptomatic objects such as:
Tightness in the chest, abdomen or other area of the trunk or shoulders
Sensations of coldness in the limbs
Rapidly shifting nonsensical thoughts involving doom or violence
Palor of the face, a sensation of lifelessness in the face
Distinct areas of the body that are felt as numb, heavy or solid objects
These are all perceptual objects that we can observe impartially. I am aware of them as such, but the main question, the one question that has an instant effect is: are they aware that I am aware of them?
Whoever asks this question is not an object, it is consciousness itself manifesting its clarity and curiosity. Through a simple turn of bi-directional attention we resolve apparent separation within our experience, regulate and/or complete the threat response cycle within the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and recover all of the energy that was previously being used (unconsciously) to fight the world. By world we mean of course the inner world that we as consciousness experience, the world of sense perceptions, bodily sensations and thoughts.
If we have an oppositional attitude to this world and resist or fight it, the process of separation is ongoing - we are unhappy or suffering. If we wish to enjoy life and thrive in a peace beyond conception, then we can choose to observe our experience, and consciously end the sense of separation.
In my clinical experience I have come to know that we can successfully apply this algorithm to any object of separation - whether it is a feeling/emotion, thought or sense of self that is uncomfortable.
We use a basic understanding of the workings of the nervous system to simplify our experience with a clear and unique aim: knowing that I AM, and therefore all is well.
We simplify our experience by asserting that most thinking is in fact irrational, it is the result of high energy activation within the ANS. This kind of thinking is not intentional. It is caused by a complex series of autonomic processes that are regulated by the DVC, whose main objective in our physiology is energy conservation and energy management. It is an evolutionary mechanism that we inherited from amphibians, reptilian beings who cannot reason or experience affect (know how they feel).
We now know thanks to the dazzling insights of Dr. Stephen Porges, that the DVC can hijack or co-opt neural processes within the cortex (the part of the brain entrusted with reasoning). That is the physiological basis for this algorithm. The cognitive-dialectical element of the algorithm has resulted from a process of the conscious use of the mind, afforded to us all by our original nature - the one who is aware of writing and reading these words right now.
References: The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) Hardcover – April 25, 2011