Last month we discussed the healing power of movement, and ways we can attune and nourish ourselves through different movement modalities. This month we’d like to share the power of moving together, and the multi-faceted benefits of co-regulation.
We most often hear about co-regulation in terms of parents and children, or caretakers/teachers/occupational therapists and young ones. But co-regulation is available to all of us, and it’s benefits go a long way towards feeling joyful and connected in our lives. Here at SIM, we have witnessed how it occurs in a room of people engaged in an activity or movement, and how we can all tap into this in our lives!
Regulation and dysregulation are terms describing our mental/physical/emotional state of being. When we are regulated we are grounded, present, able to respond to situations, not devoid of emotionality or strong feelings, but with a sense of higher brain function on board. When we are dysregulated we are reactive and unable to think clearly, or stay present or in our body. “When we become dysregulated its harder to bounce back from stress— it can sometimes feel like we are stuck on a track that just keeps spinning.” There are many tools we can use to be more regulated, and movement and mindfulness are two of the best. Co-regulation is when we do this together. Movement classes, group activities, meditation, and breath work naturally co-regulate us with each other, bringing us into a deeper regulated state within ourselves.
“We have come to understand how stress negatively affects our bodies, and that self regulation is the key to success and longevity. In these fields, we sometimes use movement to regulate the way we feel, and the levels of stress we can manage. —- The other half comes from co-regulation and community – Co-regulation refers to our social relationships and the ways we can adjust and regulate ourselves when interacting with another.”
The benefit of finding co-regulation in a movement environment is that we don’t need to cultivate one-on-one intimacy, and we don’t need certain things from one other person. It takes the pressure off our partners to fulfill our every need. Instead, it’s actually what happens all on its own, when we are in a group of humans, moving. It’s automatic and it’s effortless.
Have you ever walked into a yoga or dance class, feeling a bit shy or awkward, only to leave feeling connected to yourself and everyone else? In SIM’s Rise and Thrive Dance class, people often enter as strangers and leave feeling a sense of intimacy, connection and even affection for each other, the natural result of the vulnerability and joy of dancing together. Another class we offer is Feldenkrais. “The intention- is to reprogram the nervous system. Feldenkrais believed that we develop holistically – that you cannot separate the way you move from the way you feel from the way you think from the way you act in the world.”
Now imagine doing this together. There is a saying, “the strongest nervous system in the room wins.” When the teacher and practitioners are engaged in mindful movement, everyone’s nervous system relaxes, together. And the more we engage environments like this, the more benefit we gain. It’s the difference between trying to relax in the middle of chaos, when everyone around is frantic or busy or distracted and discursive, or genuinely and effortlessly relaxing because everyone around is you doing the same. It’s that simple. “The interaction is a result of each participant repeatedly regulating the behavior of the other. It is a continuous and dynamic process, rather than the exchange of discrete information.”
Here are some on the spot ways to co-regulate you can use daily:
1) Join a class based on mindfulness (yoga/Feldenkrais, Rise and Thrive Dance, meditation, etc..)
2) Shamanic breathwork workshops.
3) Take a slow hike or walk with someone, listen to the sounds around you and sounds of each other’s breath.
4) Cuddle with friends, family and pets.
We hope you enjoy the multifold benefits and enjoyment of co-regulation and movement!
Here’s a playlist to inspire and enhance your movement practices.
At Strength in Motion Counseling, we are here to walk, dance, move with you on your journey through the tough moments and celebrate the wonderful ones.
Get in touch to join our supporting and caring community.