Sunday, August 19, 2018

Community, Synchrony & Coregulation

     After a group of strangers meditate together for a week or so at a silent meditation retreat, a close bond, sense of safety and trust tends to develop and remains intact for years afterwards. 
     The same sense of trust & safety is one of the key "common factors" of successful therapeutic alliances between patients & therapists. 
     Below is one proposed reason for this profound community-building experience (the opposite of social alienation):

     "Like safety, self-regulation is an important component of trauma recovery. When we are in the throes of dysregulated arousal, it can be tremendously hard to function – akin to being caught in a devastating internal storm and being asked to navigate an external world. By enlisting the support of a trained professional, however, we can learn how to regulate – almost like borrowing a power from them that we desperately need. This is actually a birthright we carry: we’re born with a limited capacity to self-regulate and as babies rely on the people closest to us to keep our arousal within our window of tolerance; as infants we learn how to regulate our arousal largely through our caregivers.
     Even as adults, we depend on people to help us regulate our arousal. … other people – who we feel are safe and trustworthycan help survivors regulate arousal, whether through settling eye contact, physical touch, or overall presence. … these adjustments are often nonverbal, taking place largely through cues such as breath, gesture, & vocalization. 
     A technical term for this is inter-relational psychobiological regulation – the way our relationships with other people can help us regulate our arousal. When we’re in safe, attuned contact with other people, we can more easily access our social engagement system and thereby coregulate each other’s arousal. This takes place through nonverbal cues such as making or breaking eye contact, finding an optimal distance between our bodies, and listening to the tone in one another’s voices. Larger groups can also provide this kind of support, where practices such as dancing, singing, yoga, drumming, or martial arts bring our bodies together into connection. 
     Whereas trauma disrupts connection within ourselves and other people, community can bring us back into rhythm with one another – a state, known as synchrony, that helps us regulate our arousal." 
       David A. Treleaven. “Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness. Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing.” W.W. Norton & Co, 2018.

 One Type of Community

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