The video is a polyvagally-informed mindfulness practice.
If we use the analogy of riding a bicycle for the motion of the mind, most modern people are moving pretty fast, and their minds are to some degree accustomed to this, and in some sort of relative balance at this speed. Anybody who has tried to ride a bike in an urban setting, and come up to a stoplight and tried to balance without taking your feet off the pedals, knows how much effort it takes to stay balanced when you are no longer moving forward. This is somewhat analogous to what happens when we slow the mind down too quickly. All of a sudden it takes a great deal of effort to stay balanced. Some of our indigenous friends find the mindfulness movement problematic because they point out that sitting still is, for many modern people, often dissociative. This points to an awareness that we first need to down-regulate stress/ threat/ defensive states before engaging in traditional mindfulness practice. If you want or need to continue down this road of slowing the momentum of the mind, have a look at 3 Steps: Assess, Down-regulate, Connect, which walks through the stages of a Polyvagally-informed sequence to identify what the present neural platform is that you are in, and then down-regulating threat responses. In order to effectively sit still, meditate, and find this integrative and useful, you need to first down-regulate threat. The modern mindfulness movement lacks sophistication and nuance because it doesn't understand neurophysiology.
Manualized approaches to mindfulness that do not take into account the way that neural platforms of behavior shape and filter our reality are in fact dangerous, because they risk driving dys-regulation and dissociation. We lovingly challenge the modern mindfulness movement to learn Polyvagal Theory so that it can become more useful. Traditional mindfulness practices only work well when the body already has a felt sense of safety, and the ventral vagal system (What we call the Connection System) is online. If you want to hear Dr. Stephen Porges explain this very directly, go to our conversation with him, A Polyvagal Perspective on Resilience, at skip to 33 minutes and 20 seconds into the presentation.
The video above explores a more polyvagally-informed approach to mindfulness practice that begins by orienting towards the external environment, and only gradually and slowly invites attention inward. This is designed to stabilize attention in a more integrative and ventral state. For folks with a high degree of trauma exposure, directing attention outwardly at first is often more stabilizing, because attention magnifies and potentiates experience, and so if we are dys-regulated internally, it will magnify and potentiate this dys-regulation. If you know you are in a dissociative state (shutdown / freeze state) don't do traditional mindfulness. See Coming out of Freeze. If you know you are in a Fight state, see Coming out of Fight. If you know you are in a Flight state, see Coming out of Flight.
Related Practices:Related to many practices and films. See Coming out of Freeze, Coming out of Fight, Coming out of Flight, Learning to Set Clear Boundaries. Related to Film One: Turning on the Connection System, Film Two: The State of the Union, Film Three: The Polyvagal Theory, Film Four: Heartfulness
Who taught us this?
We have been blessed with a very wide variety of awareness teachers in many lineages. These span various buddhist, indigenous, yogic, and shamanic traditions. Some of our mentors and partners in the broader mindfulness arena include Marcellus 'Bearheart' Williams, Ilarion Merculieff, Shinzen Young, Allan Wallace, Vinnie Ferraro, Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche, Fleet Maull, Spring Washam, Melissa Moore, Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Will Kabat-Zinn, Amani Carey-Simms, Miakoda Taylor, Mark Kram, Jeffrey Bronfman, Mitchel Berman, Arthur Baker, Adriana and Beto Borges, and Flavio Mesquita da Silva
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Video: | Photography: | Licensed from Pexels.com, used with permission.