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.

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