Every time I drink plant medicine or take psychedelics, I’m reminded yet again why I love the nervous system approach to healing so much.
This time has been no different.
Again and again, I get to see just how powerful these tools are… and how terrifying it must be if you don’t have them 😱
For example, most nights during this dieta I’ve laid in bed with electric vibrations running all through my body.
It feels something like being plugged into a power outlet.
It’s not lethal of course… but it’s bizarre. And intense.
Imagine your legs vibrating and buzzing so fast that all you feel is an intense hum that never lets go.
Then your kidneys fire up… gurgling, tensing, relaxing, shifting and even cramping.
Then your hands go…
…and your face…
…then your back starts twitching and spasming…
…until your body is one big chaotic jumble of sensation.
Without a frame of reference for experiences like this, what is the response?
HELP! Something’s wrong! I’m having a heart attack! I’m dying! I’m sick! 😭😭😭😭😭
Then comes the panic… the gripping anxiety… and the terror that never seems to end 😳
The nervous system gets caught in a negative feedback loop.
We observe our body and notice it’s doing something weird.
Hmm. That’s weird. What IS that?
We then think something’s wrong (perceiving the weird feeling as a threat without realizing it).
Shit. Something’s wrong. I know it.
That ramps up the weird feeling because the weird feeling is a sympathetic (fight or flight) response to the perceived threat.
We then think something’s even more wrong.
Yep 🙁 Something’s DEFINITELY wrong…
That ramps up the weird feeling more…
…we think something’s even more wrong…
Shit shit shit shit shit
…and the cycle continues.
You can understand why some people have psychotic breaks when they take psychedelics and plant medicine 🤷♂️
They get caught in a terrifying cycle of sympathetic escalation, with no idea how to step off the ride.
Maybe you think you wouldn’t do this… but isn’t this how most of us relate to our “problems”?
I’m feeling anxious (or angry, guilty, ashamed, insecure, sad, etc.)
I don’t like this.
Your nervous system mounts an immediate fight-or-flight response to the perceived threat. You try to “run away” from the feeling or “fight it off” but because that feeling is a part of you, you can’t… so the threat remains.
But if the threat remains and you’re still focused on it, the fight-or-flight response doesn’t reset. It gets more intense because…
SHIT, THERE’S A THREAT RIGHT HERE AND I’M NOT SAFE!
Activation increases, which increases the sense that there is a threat, which increase the activation, which increases the sense that there is a threat, which increases the activation, so on and so forth, ad infinitum, until the person finally gets some rest when they’re dead.
The same applies to thoughts:
Observing a negative thought as a threat increases activation which increases the number of negative thoughts which increases activation 🔄
On and on it goes, throughout most people’s lives with never an end in sight.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why people resort to porn, compulsive shopping, snapping at the people around them, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, mindless TV watching, social media scrolling or even to self-harm and suicide.
Everyone’s looking for a way to step off the hellish cycle of negativity and sympathetic activation.
If only they knew the solution is actually quite simple:
Learn the ins and outs of your nervous system. The fight-flight-freeze response. The parasympathetic rest-and-digest function. Polyvagal theory. How survival stress works (and how it keeps us stuck in sympathetic activation).
Throw in some techniques that put the theory into practice. Orienting to the safety in the environment (and in your body). Pendulating your awareness between tension and relaxation. Following your impulse.
And remember not to bang your big toe on the way out the door 😎
I’m not saying it’s easy… but it’s definitely simple.
This is literally what I do in The Rageheart Academy every single day.
I help people step off the hellish cycle of sympathetic activation that’s been driving them for decades 🥳
It’s up to you if you want to join… but it sure beats spending your life on the ride from hell 🤷♂️
P.S. Know anyone who’s stuck in a hellish cycle of negativity and sympathetic activation?
Refer them to The Daily Growl (this email newsletter) and help them step off that terrifying ride and into a new life.