Presence: Learning to regulate your nervous system and find security at home

You can be physically present, and lack presence. [Mic drop]

pres·ence

/ˈprezəns/

noun

  1. the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing.

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I didn't realize until very recently how dysregulated my nervous system actually was. One of the ways I have always regulated my nervous system was by editing, organizing and styling my space. The past 7 months, however, have shaken me to my very core. I am unsure whether or not I can call it a dark night of the soul quite yet as I feel as though I am in still in this process of integration.

I am the type of person who finds immense clarity and peace in understanding. When I understand something, I can begin to heal. While I have always been aware of my feelings, I have a tendency to intellectualize my emotions and experience much of my dismay in the confines of my mind. I would say that actually experiencing my feelings is somewhat new to me (at least as an adult).

A few months back, when I was really deep in my darkness, my therapist referred me to this podcast called Bliss + Grit. Truthfully, it has been a light in the dark ass tunnel I have been in. It was while listening to their podcast that I had this epiphany about my dysregulated nervous system, finding safety, and how all of it relates to the relationship with our space.  

Since the moment we arrive earthside, our nervous system is constantly looking for cues of safety from our environment. The structure in our nervous system responsible for this is our Limbic System, which is also known as the puppy dog of the brain. When we do not feel safe, our nervous system is dysregulated and it is almost impossible to be in the present moment. Which makes total sense, right?

I have been struggling with chronic pain for two years now and a few months ago (i.e. when I started listening to the Bliss + Grit podcast) when I was in the thick of my darkness, I had the realization that all this physical pain might just be a physical manifestation of my dysregulated nervous system.

Why does any of this matter? Because in order to be present in your life, you need to feel safe. How does this relate to your home? Well, your home is a place where ideally we feel safe. It directly relates to our most basic needs being met (food + shelter).

Caring for our environment and ourselves within our homes is a tool we can use to regulate our nervous systems. When your physical environment is chaotic, it doesn’t help soothe your nervous system. It adds more stress as your eyeballs continuously pick up on the different piles of stress or disorder around the room. Taking ownership of your space can be a grounding ritual after a crazy day.

I have established a new ritual for finding presence at home to calm my nervous system. I go around my house and talk to my plants. Then, I sit on my couch and just take in my environment around me with my hands over my heart. I light a candle and close my eyes. Either out loud or in my head, I repeat the following:

“You are safe my love. I’ve got you. You are so supported. I love you.”

Creating a beautiful and inviting space at home ushers a sense of safety into our lives and invites us to find presence. To look around in awe of what we see and feel at ease because our space supports our ability to just be.