Sunday, March 23, 2014

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The nervous system is more than one thing, but the one people usually mean is the autonomic nervous system.  It regulates things we don't have to think about: heartbeat, breath, blinking.  There are two sides though: the sympathetic (sun, active, cortisol, fight/flight/freeze) and parasympathetic (moon, passive, healing, digestion).  They can't operate at the same time, and chronic stress usually means we fall into way too much sympathetic side.

We need to build parasympathetic tone to be in harmonious relationships (as parents, spouses, friends, professionals), to lose weight or heal our bodies etc.  It's something that you can actually accumulate rather than creating in the moment.  People build it through exercise, meditation, aromatherapy/essential oils, qigong, yoga, journaling, good talks with friends/family, EFT, emWave machines etc.

Kim John Payne/Simplicity Parenting, Todd Sarner/Transformative Parenting, Laura Markham/Aha Parenting, Lissa Rankin/Mind over Medicine and countless others advocate for access to this potential, this tone.  In Simplicity Parenting (or Soul of Discipline), we see it come out in the Compassionate Response Meditation as a preparation for dealing with disoriented kids and their soul fevers.  In Transformative Parenting, it's talked about in breathing exercises a bit when we look at Regulation.  We parents (or just people, goodness) need these centering practices.

(Image from

I built a little pinterest board (called Parasympathetique) a while ago with children in mind as much or more than us.  I know they too struggle to calm down those stress hormones with so much of their world just overwhelming them.  Simplicity and strong parent security are a huge answer to this, but there are other things we bring in to support them here.  Some of the things on this board we use/have (as activities or part of our healing basket), and other things are ideas we found but haven't tried/accessed.  Any recommendations for other things we can put on that board?

Right now, we're working with a small, doable change for our girls in our bedtime rhythm since they tend to get up a lot.  For a while, just staying with them longer for reading and snuggling helped--working on the attachment side, more bridging etc.  Now we're trying something else.  We have some relaxing, meditative stories and music in little boomboxes in their rooms to play after we leave them, and we want to check in with it in a few more days' time.  The first night was still "bad" for E but good for Z, and the second night was good for both of them.

Appreciated Films

We avoid TV/movies almost always.  It's certain that if you count up screen time at school and the visits to family's homes, you'd see quite a large number of hours.  This sort of thing can sneak up on us in particular so our basic rule is none.

But sometimes we have family movie night somewhere in the span of a weekend.  We've been going through recommendations of other families and things we saw this summer during the dollar visits they offer to families.  Yet those are very technologically sophisticated--overly stimulating in most cases.  So I was thinking about classics a bit or even newer films that have an artistic edge that makes them particularly winsome.

Here are some of our favorites.

The Labyrinth

Z has even written and illustrated a story about this one, setting herself and E in it.  They love the soundtrack!  I think they might be a bit obsessed with David Bowie.  (Well, who isn't?)

The Neverending Story

This one is a bit up and down with excitement and emotions--we don't watch it often.  It's lots of precious imagination though--and the power of our own intentions.  That's something I'd love for the girls to hold in the deeper recesses of their memories.

Pippi Longstocking

Don't you remember wishing we could live like Pippi or even be her friend?  Eric finds the overdub delays a little annoying, but the girls and I aren't phased by it.  Again: it's what can be sparked in the imagination.  A tree that houses lemonade.  Money that isn't a worry at all.  Disturbing a fancy tea party but enough patience from adults to not ruin life.


This is captivating to our girls, but I find myself very engulfed in the beauty and scope of this Japanimation.  It's simply awesome.  Along that vein is another sweet and safe Anime film:

Kiki's Delivery Service