Have you listened to our podcast episodes on the nervous system yet? If not, you definitely should! If you have, you might still be struggling to identify your nervous system states. It’s a lot of information and it takes practice to know if you’re in a sympathetic, ventral, or dorsal state. Let’s review! And then, let’s put it into practice. Once you get into the habit of identifying the sensations, emotions, actions you take, or thoughts you have, you’ll get so much information. As you learn to identify the different states of your nervous system, you’ll be able to choose the appropriate practices to shift how you feel exactly when you need it.
Here’s the breakdown
In order to identify the states of your nervous system you need to inquire with yourself. Ask, What is my body feeling physically in this state? What am I feeling emotionally? What do I want to do? What am I thinking?
Here are some examples of each state to help you identify each one:
To identify whether you are in a Sympathetic state you might notice you are feeling sensations of tension or contraction in your body (Physical). Your heart rate and blood pressure rise as if your body is bracing itself. Emotionally, you might feel anxious, worried, or afraid. You are on edge, overwhelmed, and easily irritated. In terms of what your want is (to do), you might have the urge to fight, flee, defend at all costs, and prove you are right. Resistance. As for your thoughts, they can be scary, toxic, and maybe a little crazy. Thoughts that tell you you are not ok.
To identify whether you are in a Ventral state you’ll find yourself feeling relaxed in your body. Opened, comfortable, connected. Your heart rate and blood pressure are not high and overall you feel rested. Emotionally you are engaged, happy, playful, and safe. Loved. Your wants or actions would be to connect, have physical contact, engage, and support. You project an energy that is open to intimacy, play, and growth. Your thoughts would be those of safety and reassurance. “Everything is alright and I am ok.”
To identify whether you are in a Dorsal state you will notice in your body feelings of heaviness, exhaustion, or numbness. The body feels cold and lethargic. Emotionally you will find yourself depressed, out of motivation, and stuck. You feel empty, alone, and overall not interested. Helpless. You will want to hide and self-isolate to escape from everything. Oversleeping and binging take over as you crave to avoid or ignore everything that takes you away from this false sense of safety. And lastly, you might have thoughts that tell you you’re not enough, that you are not worthy of love, that you are alone, rejected, and stuck.
If you’re ready to put it into practice, I have a video meditation prepared for you. I walk you through every step. In this practice, you’ll learn how to build your awareness of the subtle signs your nervous system is sending you in the form of sensations, thoughts, emotions, and actions while associating them with the right nervous system state. Here’s a preview.
Ready to give it a try and get better at recognizing which state you’re in? Grab your meditation cushion, a journal, and join me in the membership!
When you know what state you’re in, then you can choose the right tool for yourself. I have a ton listed and explained in this episode just for you:
Here are some additional episodes for you to learn about your nervous system: