- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about safety: It’s the presence of connection.
A rebroadcast of the movie “The Wisdom of Trauma” gave me to chance to watch the accompanying interviews Gabor Mate did with a series of luminaries. I watched his interviews with Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing; Dr. Stephen Porges, responsible for Polyvagal Theory, and Dr. Diane Poole Heller, expert in attachment as it relates to trauma.
I’m also reading “Altered Traits”, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, which is reminding me of why meditation is both not magic and can change your “traits” so that you do, in effect, become a better person through sustained, careful practice.
So, uh, yeah — I felt surrounded by wisdom this week and utterly in awe of these people.
I took away many, many lessons but the one that stuck, that I think we all need, is Dr. Stephen Porges’ understanding that safety is not the absence of threat…it is the presence of connection.
And beyond that, the one true constant message is still, always: sit quietly, breathe deeply, and play. A lot.
“Valuing just the heights misses the true point of practice: to transform ourselves in lasting ways day to day.” — Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, Altered Traits
“If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safer.”
― Stephen Porges
“(Polyvagal) theory forces us to question whether our society provides sufficient and appropriate opportunities to experience safe environments and trusting relationships.”
Stephen Porges noted that safety is not the absence of threat. It is the presence of connection.
So, my question this week is: Do you feel safe in your life right now? Do you feel at ease in your home, in your community, at work, at school?
If so why? Contemplate the presence of connection — to yourself, to your world, to your community, to your family.
Connection is one of those utterly simply human/mammalian things that we seem to want to make difficult sometimes.
Whenever I hear talk of the "western” concept of “independence” I just want to cry bullsh**.
Perhaps you agree with me?
And yet, we live in a world that seems to make connection very, very difficult. That “values” the lone wolf, the maverick, the guy who did it on his own.
Any human who actually does that would end up psychologically very, very damaged. And I think we know that, deep inside. And yet, we still allow our babies to “cry it out” we separate young kids from their siblings and extended family early, etc — finish the list with ways you might feel separate from, rather than connected to, yourself, the world, your family, your community.
So: I ask you to simply contemplate that this week: Be aware of and notice socially sanctioned separation and notice attempts at connection.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
When you notice attempts at connection, notice awkwardness — notice how we need to nurture and practice connection, so that we feel the presence of connection. So that we have safety.