The autonomic nervous system is your body's defense network in charge of keeping you safe from harm. It's an intricate mechanism that directly engages your brain, digestion, muscles, sensory organs, and heart to either stay present and reach for support (ventral vagal state), fight or flee (sympathetic state), or shut down and play dead (dorsal vagal state).
While we no longer live in the wild and don't typically come face to face with a hungry lion or an avalanche, modern life presents its version of threat ranging from the more blatant, like war, robbery, rape, and abuse, to the more subtle, like thoughts of failure and loss of livelihood, anxiety over contracting a virus, and fear of being alone in the world.
What constitutes a threat to our evolved nervous system is subjective. The same thing that triggers one person and floods their body with the impulse, hormones, and energy to run away may make you take a deep breath and try another tactic. And, the same thing that makes you shut down completely and find no words to say at all may make someone else reach out to a friend and communicate more explicitly how s/he feels.
Changing Reactions To Carefully Chosen Responses
Mechanically speaking, we all have the same nervous system and that seems to be unchangeable. However, we can influence what we perceive as a threat and how quickly we cycle through the phases of freeze, fight or flight, and return to safety and connection. This is where we find the key to regulating our own nervous system.
By becoming aware of how our nervous system automatically reacts, we begin to organically make room for new and conscious responses that better fit who we are and the kind of friend/parent/partner/colleague/person we wish to be.
Getting stuck in “freeze mode”, lingering in “fight”, or perpetually cycling through “flight” takes a toll on our health, impacts our sleep, puts a strain on our relationships, significantly decreases our productivity at work, and renders us less present for the warmth of connection and the joys of life. But all hope isn't lost!
The Polyvagal Theory and Deb Dana's work with integrating the science of the nervous system in therapeutic modalities has shown that when we learn to recognize these nervous system modes within ourselves, we can apply techniques that match how our own nervous system reacts in order to shorten the length of freeze, get out of fight or flight quicker, and reach for deeper connections and calm more safely and more often.
Knowing the universal biology behind how we think, feel, and respond to perceived threats reduces the shame from thinking that there is something wrong with us and feeling like we're all alone in it. It frees us from being hijacked by our own nervous system and gives us the opportunity and strength to direct our own lives.
Learn how to move towards more calm in the all new Regulate Your Nervous System Course.
Family Constellations, developed by Bert Hellinger, help you with a recent concern or longstanding pattern regarding your health, career, success, romance, family life, or happiness by looking at possible hidden family and ancestral dynamics that hold the key to relief, resolution, and contentment.
Maybe you feel like you end up with jobs that don't quite suit you or relationships that aren't completely fulfilling. Or perhaps you're dealing with a health issue that seems to show up out of nowhere, or losses that have made you feel drained and ill-equipped to face life.
While these issues may not seem directly related to our family of origin, when we look at them through the Family Constellation lens, we often reveal unconscious familial and trans-generational entanglements or burdens we're carrying for others.
We then make healing shifts to put things back in order, find our rightful place, and free up the strength to live life more fully.
Family Constellation Individual Sessions online offer a safe and private setting for a powerful healing shift around any issue and especially tough, unexplainable, maybe embarrassing or secretive circumstances that you want handled with utmost care.
These sessions are a one-time intervention that keeps evolving in you for the following 6 - 18 months. Are you ready?
Learn more about Family Constellations Individual Sessions with Shira.
We've arrived at the point in the summer optimal for just being.
For many of us, a calm, peaceful state where life flows easily is something we yearn for but do not know how to maintain.
That's because just being correlates with a part of our nervous system that can feel out of reach when we've experienced trauma and stress.
Locating a safe kind of just being that works for you stretches your Ventral Vagal State and its capacity for more. We can teach ourselves how to intentionally unwind, rest, chill, and enjoy the moment.
Consider then, what kind of just being feels safe, accessible, and replenishing for you now?
May you find relaxation this summer and just be, at least for a while,
P.S. Want to learn how to cultivate your Ventral Vagal capacity and access relaxation more easily? Schedule a free Strategy Session now or reply to this email.
P.P.S. In-person and virtual sessions continue regularly throughout the summer, except for the week of August 7-14 in which I will be practicing my own just being. Schedule your session @ https://bit.ly/3HsCEfi.
When overwhelm happens, we have a tendency to pull away from connection in order to protect our tender hearts. It’s a reaction programmed into our autonomic nervous system, not unlike pulling our hand away from a hot stove.
My heart knows this disconnection reflex well. At the first sign of "too much," it beats loudly in my right ear and then contracts physically and emotionally. After that, it's a quick drop down the nervous system ladder to a dorsal vagal autonomic experience, best known as the freeze response.
Work emails go unanswered. Friends' prompts to meet up unreturned. It’s harder to hear or speak. Harder to decide anything. And the vibrant part of me that shines my light retreats to the background, out of reach.
It may go on for moments, hours, or on-and-off for several days, months, or years.
I had grown so accustomed to the automaticity of freeze in my nervous system that I was actually shocked to discover that I absolutely adore connection.
I love connecting with birds, breezes, and the warm sun on my face. I love connecting with the sound of my father’s voice and my mom’s colorful emojis. I Iove connecting with you in these newsletters and in sessions when we talk about some of the hardest stuff in life. And I absolutely love connecting my heart with yours in awe of our shared human tenderness.
If it was safe enough to connect, what would your heart love to connect with?
That “hot stove” can take on any form, like news about acts of violence, a post about recession, or the barking of a neighbor’s dog. In reaction, we may pull away from life, loved ones, and our own selves. But we can also come back. We can come back into connection, following the nature of our hearts, and reach out for life again. And again. And again.
A RECIPE FOR RETURNING TO CONNECTION:
As summer, which is the season of the heart, arrives, how can you honor your own reflexes of disconnection and connection? Here are some ideas.
May your heart know safe connection and shine brightly with your light,
P.S. Want to learn how to recognize your patterns of disconnection and return to connection quicker and easier each time? Let's study your nervous system together in the safety of one-on-one sessions. Info @ https://bit.ly/35aVFpv. Not sure? Email me.
As we move towards a goal in life, there comes a moment when we are so deeply immersed in the journey that we can no longer see where we began, cannot yet see where we’re headed, and don’t really know where we are.
This is the “thick of it” point. It can be very chaotic. Messy. Incredibly uncomfortable. Painful, even. And weird. Just plain weird.
In my mind’s eye, this point on the journey looks like trekking through thick grass. It’s lush green and tall. The aroma is fresh but also cloying. It’s hard to step through the shoots, and there is zero visibility all around.
Sadness may come in very strongly at this moment. Frustration too. Sadness helps us see what we are releasing as we reach for something new. Frustration tells us that we are growing out of a familiar past and have not yet arrived at a new normal.
On a leg of the journey without a clear view of start or finish, these emotions are good sign posts. While the mind reads them as wrong, off, or abnormal, on the emotional landscape map they’re good indicators that we’re well on our way.
May determination guide you through the blinding thick of it,
P.S. Finding yourself in the thick of it and not quite sure how to proceed? Let's tend to it together in a virtual or in-person session. Schedule yours @ shiraozsinai.com/sessions.
How do we move from fear to joy? With so much happening in our world, navigating our inner emotional landscape is a vital skill. Thankfully, the flow of the seasons, as well as the nervous system Polyvagal Theory, map a clear pathway: to move out of the wintry freeze of fear, we must spring into action and reach for the warm summery expansion of joy.
FIRST, we become aware of our fear and then acknowledge it. When I notice that some part of me is feeling frightened, I may speak to it and say: “I see you. I see that you’re scared, that you’re feeling paralyzed and tense. I also see how hard it is for you to experience all of this fear.”
This warm expression of compassion begins to melt away the freeze in the body and, along with it, the feelings of being alone and separate. It’s both helpful in the moment, and also creates an opening for an ongoing dialogue with fear. One of the best questions to ask is, “What do you need?”
SECOND, when fear engages our autonomic nervous system’s freeze response, we need to spring into action in order to reach joy. Unfortunately, we've all seen adaptive yet unhealthy examples of springing into action which have dampened our instinct to do so. Just in the last month, we’ve witnessed Russia’s war charge on the Ukraine and Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.
But springing into action does not necessitate violence. It does, however, require movement -- the hallmark of spring. It might be moving the head from side to side, deepening the breath, or gently stretching the body. Perhaps it’s what fear has told you it needs, like a hug, a slow walk outside, or a little dance to a favorite song.
THIRD, we pull the specific resources that make us feel safe and supported close, like phoning a friend or relative, journaling, or reconnecting with nature in some way. This stretches our ventral vagal capacity, the aspect of the nervous system that enables us to respond from a calm and centered place. Joy may show up subtly at first, like a softening or a warming, and will keep expanding as we return again and again to heartfelt connection.
May you befriend fear, spring into action, and experience the joy of being,
P.S. Any one of these stages may require more attention, practice, and support. Check out the new series for regulating your nervous system @ https://bit.ly/35aVFpv or book a free call to learn more @ shiraozsinai.com/strategy-session.
The winds of change are blowing yet again. They're gathering up the debris, that which has been loosened up and unfastened, shed or cut down.
The winds corral it all into corners, lift it up into the air for one last dance, and set it down in a new place, no longer where or what it used to be.
When the wind has diligently cleared a new space and "what was" has been given a place, the yearning-wishing-praying that has been waiting for a season builds up hope.
"Maybe now... Maybe today... Maybe it's my time.... To rise up... To come into expression... To become who I am."
What are the winds of change carrying away for you? What are they bringing close? Who or what is it that you are becoming?
A POWERFUL SPRING CLEANING:
May the winds of change prepare you for a good adventure,
A lively flock of robins is currently occupying the four trees outside my window. Like the Chinese New Year on February 1st, their return heralds the coming of spring.
While I watch them gather in groups and make their way together from rooftop to lawn to tree, I'm reminded that we humans make our journey through life together too.
Albeit less visibly than birds, we bring our family systems with us wherever we go. From ancestor to descendant, the gift of life is passed down to us. This imperceptible link to those who came before us imbues us with the strength to survive and the courage to thrive.
The same energy of creative power can be felt in the depth of winter when outwardly little is happening, but inwardly the next iteration of life is germinating.
As we expand into spring, we follow this pulse of aliveness into expression. With our family system behind us and our flock of acquaintances, colleagues, and friends by our side, the future is as open as the sky.
May you and your flock soar this coming season,
We have officially entered the time of goo. This is the phase in the flow of the seasons and our own lives in which we incubate our dreams, our next steps, our most intimate passions and desires.
It's a profoundly inward time that may outwardly look and feel like depression or a withdrawal from the outer world. It may include unusually low energy, groggy mornings, slower than slow movement through the day, and a seemingly permanent fogginess in and around the head.
Like the Pupa Stage in the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, this is a necessary and natural phase. Inside the chrysalis, a liquid breaks down the old caterpillar into imaginal cells that can form into any kind of cell. From this liquid, eventually, a beautiful butterfly will come into being.
During this sacred watery phase in our own evolution, old patterns, old routines, and old wounds along with who we thought we were and where we thought we were going dissolve into goo. Out of this, our creative and soul-inspired imagination -- the human version of imaginal cells -- begins to form the next iteration of life.
Goo time is a period of wait, of just being, of long silences where life feels shapeless and the future obscure. For many of us this deep dive into the waters of the Great Unknown brings about discomfort and fear. But when we figure out how to honor the goo, we can surrender into list-lessness, agenda-less moments of "I don't know" and "I'm not sure," where an ocean of infinite possibilities for what comes next awaits us.
May your "goo time" nourish your deepest dreams into being,
P.S. Check out January's events and announcements below.
Get a Natural Booster for Your Body and Life
Friday, January 14, 2022
9:30am - 10:30am EST
Live only, via Zoom
Register for free @ https://bit.ly/3riym4a
Feeling run down? Join me for self-care techniques that boost immunity, strengthen the lymph system, and aid in preventing and recovering from colds and flu. Counter the post-holiday slump, threat of Omicron, and seasonal flu with these natural remedies.
These Self-Care Friday sessions are hosted by the Maryland Capital Women's Business Center and the Maryland Small Business Development Center. Though they are designed for small business owners and their employees, the content is applicable to all and the sessions open to all.
Next session: Friday, February 11, 2022, 9:30am EST
Seva Stress Release: Acupressure Practice*
Monday, January 24, 2022
1:00pm - 1:35pm EST
Live only, via Zoom
Register for free @ https://bit.ly/3I483W9
A 35 minute practice of the Seva Acupressure for Stress Relief sequence. A refresher, chance to practice with others, and most importantly--access deep healing and well being.
* Prerequisite: Completion of Seva Acupressure for Stress Relief with Shira or other Soul Lightening Acupressure instructor.
Next session: Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 3pm EST
Support for your goo time is here.
Individual in-person sessions in Downtown Silver Spring and Dupont Circle as well as online continue regularly. Reply to this email to schedule or book a free Strategy Session to learn more about:
December. A time of celebrating an end to darkness and a return of light. A time of bidding farewell to fall and welcome to winter. Of saying goodbye to the year that has passed and hello to the new year at the threshold.
What is it in your life that is coming to a close?
What is it in your life that is waiting to begin?
In me, an enormous shift is underway. So many "old ways" are finding their ending. So many "new ways" are seeking to come into expression. All of it is gently enveloped by the Great Mystery of Life.
I find myself quietly surrendering. No longer wishing to fight what is. Humbled by the power of life itself and the pulsating life-force within me. A fierce determination guides me to continue shining my light bright. I'm curious as to where it will all lead and who I will become.
Below are this month's announcements of closings and openings, as dictated by the changing inner tide.
iRest® Yoga Nidra Meditation for Cultivating Calm
Please join me in an honorable closure to the Thursday Yoga Nidra series for Cultivating Calm, which started in March 2020 in response to Covid.
This is the last Yoga Nidra of 2021 and the last class of this series.
Live via Zoom and recording available for 21 days
Thursday, December 16, 8:00 - 9:00pm ET
Register @ shiraozsinai.com/yoga-nidra.
Self-Care Friday: Restoring from Holiday-Time Fatigue
Practice key self-care techniques for experiencing less fatigue, a better night’s sleep, and overall more energy for the holiday and winter season.
Live only via Zoom. Free to attend.
Friday, December 17, 9:30 - 10:30am ET
Register @ https://bit.ly/3py2RSF.
Winter Solstice: Meditative Card Night
In the period between the winter solstice and spring, nature offers us an opportunity to safely spend time with the unknown. To dream. To be still. To ponder, what is it all about? What's my place in this world? What's my purpose? How do I bring my light out?
Make room for these deep inquiries with an illuminating and fun online solstice gathering. Set an intention for the season, take in the healing powers of the water element, and playfully draw on oracle cards to reveal the inner guidance for what will bring you peace this season.
Live only via Zoom
Tuesday, December 21, 6:00 -8:00pm
Register @ shiraozsinai.com/meditative-card-night.
Winter Solstice & New Year: Individual Sessions
Looking for an individual reflection space to contemplate the winter season, the closing of 2021, and the new year? Enjoy a unique one-on-one full-sensory experience with an online meditative session for welcoming your winter and 2022 intentions, receiving nature's healing, and picking oracle cards to reveal the wisdom that awaits you now.
75 min sessions
Only available between December 20 and January 10
Email me for details and to schedule
In-Person Sessions in Silver Spring
Adding to ongoing online individual sessions, as well as in-person in Dupont, I'm now offering in-person sessions in Downtown Silver Spring at 8720 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
These sessions provide support and are a safe space for you to uncover your unique light. To tone your nervous system towards calm. To shed layers of experience in body, mind, and heart that are holding you back. And to gently illumine family dynamics that carry within them the secret to more life, more love, and more abundance.
Online sessions are open to all.
In-person sessions are currently for those vaccinated only.
60 and 90 min sessions available
Email me for details and to schedule
Celebrating Latrice D. Rogers
We are all on a path of evolution to bravely shine the light that we are into the world. One such bright light is Latrice D. Rogers.
I've had the privilege of accompanying Latrice on her journey and the great honor of writing the foreword to her debut narrative nonfiction.
Each chapter is its own story based on life lessons. Readers are invited to make connections with these lessons, to reflect within the pages of the book, and to share their connections and stories with others. It's a real self-care gift for all!
Learn more and purchase @ latricedrogers.com.
May your light shine brightly through every ending and beginning,
P.S. Looking for a holiday gift to give yourself or a loved one? The Seva Stress Release Webinar includes an hour long video instruction and other digital tools for learning and practicing acupressure for stress relief, improved sleep, less anxiety, tension relief, and overall increased well being. Give the gift of lifelong stress relief @ https://bit.ly/3mnZw71.
Shira Oz-Sinai provides guidance and instruction to individuals pursuing a deeper level of physical, mental and emotional health. An expert in the tools of acupressure and meditation, she offers on-demand one-on-one appointments and group events in a safe, relaxing virtual environment with the focus on living life with greater ease and a deeply loving friendship with self.