Podcast

How to Use Polyvagal Theory to Shift Your Nervous System with Deb Dana

September 19, 2022

Do you know how your nervous system works? Polyvagal theory explains how our nervous system evolved and offers insight into why we become activated or shut down during stress. In this episode, Deb Dana helps us understand polyvagal theory and offers strategies to help you shift your nervous system toward connection and safety. About Deb […]

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Diana Hill, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, international trainer, and sought-out speaker on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and compassion

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Do you know how your nervous system works? Polyvagal theory explains how our nervous system evolved and offers insight into why we become activated or shut down during stress. In this episode, Deb Dana helps us understand polyvagal theory and offers strategies to help you shift your nervous system toward connection and safety.

About Deb Dana

Deb Dana, LCSW is a clinician, consultant, and author specializing in complex trauma. Her work is focused on using the lens of Polyvagal Theory to understand and resolve the impact of trauma, and creating ways of working that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system. She is a founding member of the Polyvagal Institute and developer of the signature Rhythm of Regulation Clinical Training Series. Deb is well known for translating Polyvagal Theory into a language and application that is both understandable and accessible – for clinicians and curious people alike. She has a number of resources for clinicians including The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client Centered Practices, and the Polyvagal Flip Chart. And she partners with Sounds True to bring her polyvagal perspective to a general audience through the audio program Befriending Your Nervous System and her print book Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory. We will offer you links to get connected to these in the show notes.

Key Takeaways

  • Your nervous system is designed for survival
  • The vagus nerve has 2 branches: ventral and dorsal
  • When stressed or threatened, your body will first respond by going into sympathetic mobilization, but if you are not able to escape to safety, your body may move into dorsal vagal which leads to shut down
  • The ventral vagal system is part of your social engagement system and leads to feelings of safety and connection
  • Movement, touchstones, and breath can be helpful when you are stuck in sympathetic arousal
  • Visualization, music, and gentle movement can help when you are feeling immobilized

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Connecting With Diana

Thank you for listening to Your Life in Process! Subscribe to the podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts. If you have any questions or feedback you can contact Diana by email podcast at yourlifeinprocess dot com or leave Diana an audio message at (805) 457-2776. Follow Diana at YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Diana’s website.

Thank you to the team Craig, Angela Stubbs, and Ashley Hiatt. Thank you to Benjamin Gould of Bell & Branch for your beautiful music.

Remember when you become psychologically flexible, you become free.

Episode Segments

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [00:41] About Deb Dana
  • [03:07] Diana’s Event: From Striving to Thriving Summit 2.0
  • [04:35] The Soothing Sound of Rain
  • [07:25] What Deb Dana’s Background Says About Her
  • [09:54] What Is Neuroception?
  • [12:12] The Three States Of Our Nervous System: Ventral, Sympathetic and Dorsal
  • [14:18] An Example Of Sympathetic and Ventral Nervous System
  • [16:24] What Is The Vagus Nerve?
  • [19:02] The Two Parts of the Vagus Nerve: Ventral Vagal and Dorsal Vagal
  • [22:40] The Ventral Break
  • [24:54] Deb Dana’s Nervous System
  • [28:37] Using Polyvagal Theory To Inform Our Caregiving
  • [29:49] The Social Engagement System
  • [35:38] Strategies to Move From Sympathetic to Ventral
  • [36:57] Using Imagery and Movement
  • [38:10] Using Touchstones
  • [38:52] Self-Compassion Statements
  • [40:51] Examples of Self-Compassion Statements
  • [42:20] Using Breath To Regulate The Nervous System
  • [43:17] The Utility Of Sighing
  • [45:31] Strategies to Move From Dorsal to Ventral
  • [48:30] Matching Music To Your Nervous System’s Needs
  • [50:53] The Link Between Your Nervous System and Trauma
  • [01:02:12] Diana’s Summary Of Episode
  • [01:04:38] Your Daily Practice
  • [01:06:50] Connect With The Podcast

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