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  • Writer's pictureAndrew

The Tiger in Your Inbox | Physically Spiritual

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Have you ever wondered why your body seems like your worst enemy sometimes? You may be so overwhelmed by a big presentation or test that the benefit of hours of preparation evaporates in the frantic energy of the body. You might feel so disconnected during a once in a lifetime experience that, while your body was present, afterward, you’re not sure you were there. This episode explores the automated part of the nervous system that we share with all mammals, and how learning how to connect with and harness its energy, we can get unstuck.

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1:45 - The Nervous System

4:00 - Polyvagal Theory

10:45 - Neuroception

11:45 - “Story Follows State”

14:45 - State & Memory

18:00 - Tools

24:00 - Healing Trauma

25:00 - Applications for Christians


Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) - controls the mostly unconscious or automatic functions of the body, including heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupil, excreting waste, and arousal.

The ANS is split into mirror/antagonistic systems: The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems:

The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) controls the Flight, Fight, and Freeze Response. This system is responsible for engaging the body for survival.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) controls states of resting, digesting, connecting, and healing.

The Vagus Nerve connects the brain to the stomach, and it controls the PNS.

Polyvagal Theory - Stephen Porges, Ph.D. -

The PolyVagal Ladder - Deb Dana -

Safe and Social (Ventral Vagal) - 1st Parasympathetic

Signs: eye contact, focal expressiveness, the ability to hear voices, feeling safe and in control, and the ability to connect.

Flight - Sympathetic

Signs: fidgety, desire to leave, inability to focus, voices drowned out by noises, and feelings of anxiety

Fight - Sympathetic

Signs: feeling angry or tenseness, desire to fight or lash out, inability to calm down, inability to be empathetic

Shut Down (Dorsal Vagal) - 2nd Parasympathetic

Signs: feeling disconnected, numbness, feeling apathy or hopelessness, flat tone, and frozen face, can’t hold eye contact

Mixed States:

Play = Safe/Social + Flight/Fight

Stillness = Safe/Social + Shutdown

Freeze = Flight/Flight + Shutdown

Neuroception is the body’s reaction to cues of safety or danger.

“Story Follows State” (Deb Dana) - The brain tries to make sense of vagal state after a shift by creating a story that may or may not match reality.


Develop Attunement - Strengthen the ability to recognize distress as a feeling in the body, notice where it is in the body and what it feels like, realize that it is not permanent. You can learn how to move through it.

Breathing - Breathing is both consciously controlled and controlled by the ANS. Try slowly breathing with an extended exhale.

Make Sound/Singing - the vagus nerve passes near the vocal cords. Humming or singing may stimulate the Vagus Nerve.

Co-regulation or Shared Regulation - We can offer safety cues or receive safety cues from other people—the body neurocepts safety from prosodic voices and authentic smile (with eye crinkles).

Decode Your Story - Notice the places where your reactions seem too big or too small for the situation. Consider what in your past is affecting the response of your nervous system in the present moment.

Somatic Experiencing -

To continue readings about Polyvagal Theory go to

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