Neuroception is the ability to assess the safety or danger of a given situation. The term was coined by Dr. Steven Porges, developer of the Poly-Vagal Theory. The development of accurate neuroception in current time is at the crux of reclaiming comfort in the body-mind.
Motor & Afferent-Efferent
put to Action
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is a sophisticated track and response system which when working optimally has a reciprocal nature, that is it doesn’t send signals which are at cross purposes with each other. When a person becomes hyper-vigilant to danger over a significant period of time, signals of both shutdown and activation are fired simultaneously which drains the system of energy and optimal function in the long term.
The vagus nerve is a large component of the Parasympathetic branch of the ANS, that is the branch which puts the brakes on overstimulation either through noticing nature on a pleasant walk in the woods, enjoying connection during a heartfelt conversation, or conversely through the frozen state of immobility when trying to muster the energy to get out the door. The softer side of the vagus nerve is at play when someone feels safe; the harsher braking system is used when someone experiences a cascade of threatening experiences requiring a more intense brake.
Optimal ANS (automatic/organ) function recovery after an extended period of hyper-vigilance to danger can be attained by placing yourself in situations of safety and noticing the signs of safety (neuroception) in your body (interoception) and in the environment (exteroception.) The active portion of the ANS (sympathetic) may need to express itself in a coordinated protective response to facilitate this. In time, small controlled (and then larger) challenges and perturbations in safety perception are handled with the right amount of energy to organically return to the larger “Window of Tolerance” baseline. This requires a bit of energy redirection and patience.