At the ripe old age of 20, I was a graduate social work student. One of the books that captured my imagination was Irrational Man. Barret said that as humans we experience problems in living. These may well be in response to both external events and our internal states, how we interact with loved ones, families, teachers, mentors, etc.
As opposed to pathologizing folks he believed we lived life on a continuum and what might be a problem in one culture may not be in other. He postulated we had problems in living which we could address. Like the existentialists of his day, he believed that we could create our own meaning and had the capacity to live a life worth living even in the harshest of situations. We know that the existentialists that followed him, Camus, Victor Frankel, etc were testimony in their own lives to this. And today we know here are hundreds of thousands of stories of how people have ben able to overcome adversity with grace, dignity and are triumphant.
While none of these esteemed scholars wrote at the time about how their automatic nervous systems were both the “creator and witness to their lived experiences“ they intuitively understand the interaction between their automatic nervous system and how it informed their well being, and they intuitively recognized that connection with others and with self was the cornerstone of well-being.
Recently I attended East Meets West Retreat which was hosted by Lord and Lady Northampton and Natasha Silver Bell (SBC Global) at the Falcon Castle. For me hearing Deb Dana speak about Polyvagal practices and hearing Maria Kratosis LCSW speak and later reading more of Debs’ work about how they work with clients that have problems in living affirmed my philosophical bent and inspired me with the same awe, enthusiasm and giddiness that I had as that 20 year old graduate student.
Hence I invite you to look at their work, play with their thoughts and try them on like a new suit of clothes and see what fits for you. For me their thoughtful positivity resonates in a way that allows us as clinicians, coaches, wellness mentors etc to honor the folks who come to us to share their heart and heal.
Their work gives us as humans tools to flourish. At their core is the belief that “Connection is the Core of Well Being and that each one of us face different problems in our lives which can be threatening, and which challenge our nervous systems and in turn we respond ineffectively in certain situations albiet with family, at work etc. Taking time to learn about our nervous systems (Ventral Vegal, Sympathetic and Dorsal, states and how we respond to ourselves, others and the world we live in allows us with the help of seasoned guides allows to create a new playbook, a new story and a new way of living which allows us to navigate everyday life, our interaction with others, the tough times and celebrate the glimmer and awe in our lives.
In Deb Dana’s terms, “Sending Glimmers” to all of you.