Compassionate Integrity Training Final CIT training manual 11-30 - Page 40

Compa ssionate Integrit y Tr a ining A S e cu l a r Ethic s A ppr oac h to C ulti vat ing Pe rs on al, S o ci al and E n vir on me n tal F lo u r i shing feel more calm and balanced. In a healthy individual, the activation. If we just think about what we’re feeling or body naturally cycles back and forth between sympathetic what emotional state we may be in, our introspection and parasympathetic activation throughout the day, with can often be wrong. However, if we examine what brief periods of sympathetic activation (such as waking sensations are taking place in our body, this provides from sleep), followed by periods of relaxation. The problem far better clues. This is because, as Elaine Miller-Karas comes when the body becomes dysregulated because one of the Trauma Resource Institute says, the body speaks system is activated for too long or too much (i.e., too the language of sensations. intensely). For example, while the “fight or flight” response The practice of noticing sensations in the body is called is evolutionarily adaptive when a sabertoothed tiger is “tracking.” Normally, we tend to use feeling and emotion about to attack, it can be quite debilitating when it remains words to describe what state we are in. For instance when activated for extended periods of time due to workday someone asks us, “How are you today?” we might say, stress, relationship issues or financial crisis. As social beings, “I’m feeling good,” or “I’m feeling sad.” Rarely do we our bodies seem not to distinguish between physical threat spend time acknowledging the physical sensations that and psychological or social threats. Therefore, fear of are associated with “feeling good” or “feeling sad.” We embarrassment, failure or social rejection can be just as can learn to do so, however, and developing this skill is threatening to us as physical danger. enormously helpful in allowing us to know what state our A useful heuristic is to think of the autonomic nervous body is in. Being able to recognize a warm sensation in the system as being in one of three zones. We have mentioned chest radiating out, or butterflies in one’s stomach, or the the resilient zone, where we feel safe, confident and in tightening or loosening of muscles gives us information control, and where we can make good decisions. The about the body. As we learn about our bodies, we develop other two are the high zone, where we feel hyper-aroused, “body literacy.” We notice that our bodies are experiencing a such as anxious, stressed, angry, nervous or agitated; and whole host of sensations at every moment. Each sensation the low zone, where we feel hypo-aroused, lacking energy, is giving us information about the state of our body. lacking interest in activities and possibly depressed. If we Interestingly, if we attend to unpleasant sensations and are a human being with a body, then it is most likely that keep our attention on them, they have the potential to we are familiar with times when we felt stuck in the high send us into the high or low zone. It is as if the body zone or stuck in the low zone. is sensing danger, and we are focusing on the threat. However, if we attend to neutral or pleasant sensations and remain with them, they have the potential to Tracking regulate our bodies and move us back into the resilient What tells us whether we are in our resilient zone or zone. When we do this, it is as if we are letting our not? Interestingly, because the autonomic nervous bodies know that things are safe and okay. system evolved long before the higher regions of our brain, such as the cortex, we are not always conscious of whether it is exhibiting sympathetic or parasympathetic Tracking, therefore, is the act of noticing the physical sensations that are occurring within the body in the Ce n t e r for Compa s sion , I nteg r i t y and S e cu l ar E t hics | L ife Uni ve rsi t y | M ar ie t ta, G e or g i a - 34 -