Keeping connected with goodness

Your Mind-Body-Heart

The mind–body system will always tell you whether you are safe or in danger through the vagus nerve, which controls your nervous system’s parasympathetic response.

The vagus nerve travels from the brain stem, the base of your skull, in two directions, down through your lungs, heart, diaphragm and stomach and upward to meet with the nerves in your neck, throat, eyes and your ears.

Often in sessions, I will invite you to identify where you are in yourself, giving us essential information on what you need to focus on.

“The vagus nerve is divided into the ventral vagal pathway and the dorsal vagal pathway. The ventral vagal pathway responds to safety cues and supports feeling safely engaged and socially connected. In contrast, the dorsal vagal pathway responds to cues of extreme danger. It takes us out of connection and awareness and into a protective state of collapse. When we feel frozen, numb, or not there, the dorsal vagal has taken control.”

Deb Dana (2018)


Psychotherapy helps us enter the ventral vagal pathway into our social engagement system Dr Stephen Porges), where our body can regulate and understand what safety feels like. The social engagement system helps us understand and communicate our emotions, listen to others and tune into them from our hearts. Through a healthy therapeutic relationship, you can co-regulate your body and have the opportunity to heal the relational wounds from your childhood that, for example, may have caused C-PTSD and have a new experience.

However, when we feel afraid or uneasy, we move into being anxious or angry; have panic. Our health can suffer from hypertension, chronic pain in the neck and shoulders, headaches and stomach problems. When we are here, we tend to worry about things or compare ourselves with others, keep busy and prepare for danger or something going wrong.

When what we have tried is not working, when it feels like “I have done everything and nothing works, and I can’t go on”, we go into a shutdown place of collapse and dissociation. You feel hopeless, foggy, empty and alone. Some problems here include depression, dissociation, lethargy and isolation. Chronic fatigue can result from being in this state, stomach problems, low blood pressure, weight gain and fibromyalgia.

The vagus nerve connects the brain to the major systems in the body, and when early life relationships are not safe, the body will not feel safe. Finding safety again is vital and starts in your mind-body and heart system.