Community: The What’s Missing In Your Life.
It's the time of year when we gather with those we love and express gratitude as we connect and share our experience of the year behind us as well as our hopes for the year ahead. Yet. so many of us dread the holidays, especially the part where we gather with the people in our lives ...how can something we need so desperately, be such a turn off?
In biology, the classical doctrine of the nervous system determines that it is a highly complex part of an animal that coordinates its actions and sensory information by transmitting signals to and from different parts of its body. The nervous system detects environmental changes that impact the body, then works in tandem with the endocrine system to respond to such events.
Nervous systems are found in most multicellular animals, but vary greatly in complexity. The size of the nervous system ranges from a few hundred cells in the simplest worms, to around 300 billion cells in African elephants.
In his book Not So Different, molecular biologist Nathan H. Lents argues that the same evolutionary forces of cooperation and competition have shaped both humans and animals.
As Lents notes; "Understanding where sibling rivalry comes from can help us disarm it and thus get along with our siblings better. Understanding the biological basis of grief can help us recover from our own grief as well as help others to do so. Understanding that humans have a moral foundation built into us through our history as social mammals can help us discover ways to build a more moral society, regardless of religious, national, and ethnic differences. In short, there is a lot to gain by understanding where our behaviors come from.”
The basis of this ideology is that the emotional drives and instincts of humans and other animals are remarkably similar. Where things become very different; and we have to admit that modern humans live very differently than other animals, is when those drives and instincts interact with the social environment to create behavior. Since humans have an exceedingly complex cultural history that is additive over the generations, that is a very different social milieu in which our drives give rise to behaviors. But the drives themselves are not so different.
Animals fall in love, establish rules for fair play, exchange valued goods and services, hold "funerals" for fallen comrades, deploy sex as a weapon, and communicate with one another using rich vocabularies. Animals also get jealous and violent or greedy and callous and develop irrational phobias and prejudices, just like us. Monkeys address inequality, wolves miss each other, elephants grieve for their dead, and prairie dogs name the humans they encounter. Human and animal behavior is not as different as once believed.
Identical emotional and instinctual drives govern our actions. By acknowledging this shared programming, the human experience no longer seems unique, but in that loss we gain a fuller understanding of such phenomena as the biological basis of grief helping us lead more grounded, moral lives among animals, our closest kin.
Evidence from psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology, and ethology further advance Lents’ work and drive home the truth that we are distinguished from animals only in degree, not in kind. Most people imagine a vast gulf between the behavior of humans and that of other animals, when in reality, our behaviors spring from the same basic programming that manifests as drives and instincts. This goes for the vast majority of scientists as well; even biologists and psychologists rarely appreciate how human behaviors are really just more culturally complex versions of behaviors seen in other animals.
One of the best ways to understand why we behave as we do is to appreciate our evolutionary history as social animals. And take into account one of the predominant biological systems that propel us along the path of evolution: our nervous system.
In short and perhaps ironically, seeing ourselves as animals can allow us to be better people. We are human animals. As animals, estrogen and oxytocin prime us towards desiring group harmony. We learn best with others, especially when it comes to healing and relating. Even if it doesn't feel that way, or how it's been in the past.
Right now we are experiencing the effects of trauma response as a cultural expression worldwide. To come out of our default nervous system trauma response to freeze (parasympathetic dorsal) or fawn and fit in (parasympathetic ventral) often requires connection and mirroring.
Both connection and mirroring are part of what happens in community. Thats why more than ever the community you engage in will make or break your life experience. You are either connecting to an intentional and positive community and mirroring behavior that empowers you forward OR you are engaging with a community that has you mirroring stagnation and judgement.
There are all kinds of things that impede an organic relationship to our nervous system and each other. There are also a lot of simple elemental skills that you can learn that radically change the game.
Each person’s experience of trauma is unique. Fight. Flight. Fawn. Freeze/Shut-Down. Dissociation. Anxiety or depression. Some people move through all of these challenging responses. Our trauma might be emotional or physical. Perhaps both. It is difficult and mysterious. Gratefully, there are ways to integrate. Engaging in trauma-informed practices can provide the space and support our systems need to hold these complex feelings.
-We need a shame-free environment to let some of our own shame be transmuted.
-We need a loving environment so we can decide how we want love to take form in our life and nervous systems.
-We need a powerful container so that we feel safe to explore.
The Sacred EXchange Community was intentionally designed to provide you those things- a shame-free, loving and powerful container, so that we can learn to live together in authentic freedom, power and self-expression. In the Sacred EXchange Community, you will learn tools to deconstruct your trauma response, employ techniques to regulate your nervous system, and create a nurturing space for your emotional and physical bodies. We will use mindful movement, somatic practices, journal reflection, and simple meditation techniques to tend to your systems in the way that feels the very best to you as an individual. Your choice will always be affirmed.
That's a starting point for a world that we can be proud of and want to belong to.
Come Heal, Learn and Grow with us. The future of humanity depends on it.