Up near the base of the cranium where the vagus nerve connects to the brain stem, it splits into two branches. The ventral vagal and the dorsal vagal. These branches of the vagus nerve are intimately intertwined in the facial muscles and vocal muscles. They represent the two sides of the parasympathetic nervous system- our rest and digest system and our freeze system. Our ventral vagal nerve is associated with our social engagement system. When it is online we are in tune with others and the world. We are able to be deeply aware of complex social and verbal cues. The ventral vagal nerve is like a gentle brake on our nervous system- helping us slow down and be present. The dorsal vagal nerve, on the other hand, is like an emergency brake to our nervous system. It turns the parasympathetic nervous system on so hard that we become frozen. It’s an important defense mechanism for when we are facing what we perceive as serious threats- our body’s way to “play dead” as a last resort to survival. This might look like feeling frequently dissociated or “checked out”, overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame, feeling “stuck in a rut”, hopeless, and depressed. This is an important survival mechanism built into our nervous system. The problem happens when our dorsal vagal nerve becomes stuck ON- and we lose the ability to flow smoothly between different parasympathetic and sympathetic states. This can be caused by many kinds of chronic stress, anxiety, and trauma in our lives. However, by doing intentional somatic practices, we can come back to a state of flow and regain the use of our ventral vagal nerve again. Contact me for information on how we can start this journey together! #ventralvagal #dorsalvagal #vagusnerve #nervoussystemhealth #nervoussystemregulation #nervoussystemsupport #polyvagaltheory #parasympatheticnervoussystem #parasympathetic #mentalhealth #holistichealth #holisticmentalhealth #mentalhealththerapist #mentalhealththerapy #somatictherapy #bodyfocusedtherapy
About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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