Do you need a break from team-humanity heartache? Let’s self-regulate.
With all the pain and heaviness in the world right now— from the lack of gun-safety to Russian savagery to forced-pregnancy to toxic patriarchy — it can be hard to pause and take a break collectively and personally.
I was in my survival-brain, unable to organize, think or communicate. But I could self-regulate.
Taking breaks, which are necessary for our physical and emotional well-being, also help us regain our motivation and increase our creativity and productivity, not to mention restore our sanity.
Experiencing AWBW’s Take A Break: Self-Regulate art workshop (& using tools like spinners), has given me a real opportunity to reset my nervous-system on a consistent basis. The workshop also enhanced my emotional state of confidence, through the autonomy I received being in full choice around creating the design.
We are multi-dimensional beings (spirit, mind and body), and we are multi-emotional humans. So it’s okay to feel the collective pain and sadness of Buffalo, Uvalde, Roe, Russia, etc. And it’s just as okay to feel the personal JOY and GRATITUDE of whatever wonderful thing is happening for you in life. It’s also very very much okay to take a break and recharge, when your emotional thermostat goes off.
For me, as an American of African-ancestry, when Buffalo occurred and my nervous-system responded the way it did — leaving me alone in the reptilian part of my brain — I had the awareness, because of previous scheduled self-regulation breaks, of what I was experiencing: My intergenerational wounds, from centuries of unresolved pain around radical caucasian extremism/terrorism, had been ripped open. I was in my survival-brain, unable to organize, think or communicate. But I could self-regulate. And that soothed my nervous-system (which almost as a bonus, gave me the ability & awareness to help other people soothe theirs)
I’ve learned to:
- Take HUGE breaths.
- Do an extensions exercise called OAHU (Open Arms, Head Up).
- Use survival-brain soothing language (aka nonviolence for communication).
And I trust that these nervous-system resets can lead me to a place where I can act from a space of NeYo love, versus survival-brain fear.
NeYo meaning neo-cortex (or thinking brain), representing that part of our brain where we can contemplate multiple things from different sides (vs ringing the danger alarm bell 24/7, like in the survival-brain). I also love the Matrix movies and the R&B singer, and not only does the abbreviation honor that love, but I’m reminded that we process movies & music in our neo-cortex too. So NeYo love is a few things, but mainly it is love for oneself, love for one’s environment & love for our fellow human beings.
So I finish where I started: The next time you need a break from team-humanity heartache, take a moment to create the spinners below to help you self-regulate.
Empathy Coach (NVC)
Los Angeles, California
Use this Take a Break: Self-Regulate worksheet to support you in taking breaks.
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Want to utilize art to help yourself and others self-regulate?
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A Window Between Worlds (AWBW) supports hundreds of direct service organizations across the country to incorporate creative expression into their work with trauma survivors. With this blog we uplift the voices of our art workshop facilitators and participants. We invite you to take in this perspective, notice what resonates and explore how it may fit into your life.