You experience your world through your physical body. When you are in a steady calm state, you can connect with others and yourself. However, when you feel threat, your body reacts and mobilizes to protect you. Your body holds on to the memories of past threatening events and causes you to feel fear. This physical arousal is basic survival and how we try to stay safe. When arousal is constant or more than you think you can manage, you may even shut down emotionally or physically.
Ideally, we all want to maintain a steady state so we can fully live our lives and interact with others . To be able to regulate your body, you must be able to identify when you are not feeling steady, open or present in the moment. Some call feeling overwhelmed “flooded”. Although what causes you to feel overwhelmed is unique to you, it is possible to increase your awareness of what is happening in your body when you feel “flooded”. Can you begin to notice where in your body you feel tense? How does your breathing change? Is there a particular way you tend to behave when you feel emotionally “flooded”?
Deb Dana is a therapist whose book, Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory offers tools to enable you to bring a more grounded state of being into your life and slow the flooded tide of your emotions.One tool is called “The Power of the Glimmer”.
A glimmer is that tiny moment when you feel a spark of regulating energy. If you don’t make a point of looking, noticing or remembering it, it will pass you by. A glimmer can be any moment that is present in your everyday life. Perhaps, you might feel a glimmer when you see the sunset. For me, standing by the edge of the ocean creates a glimmer that connects me to a sense of fullness. Can you identify a particular glimmer that brings you this spark?
Glimmers can be unexpected micro moments. You must take a moment and allow the moment to sink in. Perhaps you feel the glimmer as the beginning of a feeling of warmth in your belly, a smile on your face or even an ability to breathe more fully. The glimmer may be just a thought or something that comes to you through what you can see, smell, taste, hear or touch. Allow this glimmer to just sink in for a few extra seconds.
Finding and noticing your glimmers will not prevent struggles in your life, but can help change your nervous system and with ongoing practice helps rewire your brain. As Dr. Rick Hansen says, “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Keep seeking the glimmers in your life to not only enhance your sense of calm connection, but grow your ability to manage the challenges life brings us all.