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A list of over 50 words I use in my practice.
I have developed (am always developing) a method of skillful contemplative companionship, Notice the Journey Trauma-Informed Spiritual Direction. The PDF is a lexicon (practice dictionary) of over 50 words I use in my writing and with directees. Below are the most commonly used words. Italics indicates a separate entry.
the visible and invisible web of radical connection of everything to everything. It has lots of names. It holds the liminal space of the seeming opposites in unity and wholeness.
the spark of Spirit that animates our living; the radical incarnation of Spirit. The energy that moves within our nervous system.
the felt sense of safe and nurturing connections with one’s Self, others, Spirit, and the planet.
any practice that increases the felt sense of safe and nurturing connections to Self, Spirit, others and/or the planet.
the intentional use of spiritual practices to grow our spirituality.
a specialized and supportive relationship of contemplative and skillful listening between a spiritual director and spiritual directee with the sankalpa of growing safe and nurturing connections within the Self and in our relationships with others, Spirit, and the planet. Modern and ever evolving, it is an ancient practice found within many of the Wisdom Traditions.
one who seeks spiritual direction.
the skillful, compassionate companion with specialized training who creates a safe space for spiritual direction.
trauma-informed spiritual direction (TISD)
a specialized method of spiritual direction that seeks to establish, cultivate, and/or restore safety and connection to the strained or severed felt sense within the Self and our relationships with others, Spirit, and the planet through trauma-informed spiritual practices. Drawing from the deep wells of the Wisdom Traditions and modern neuroscience, it is a supported journey toward samadhi, shanti, shalom, and salaam.
trauma-informed spiritual practices
spiritual practices intentionally designed from a trauma-informed perspective, blending ancient techniques from the Wisdom Traditions (meditation, prayer, breathing, ritual, readings, poetry, etc.) and the neurobiology of modern trauma studies.
They are often micro-practices that utilize contemplative curiosity of the felt sense using the four perceptions and are designed to increase a sense of safety and connection to Self, others, Spirit, and the natural world.
I'm always tweaking my definitions of the words I use in my practice and even in reference to my self.
Words in italics are found in the PDF lexicon.
The lexicon here is often updated and always evolving. Take what is useful, leave what is not. Search and slough off, discover and discern as you make your way.
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
the "operating system” that runs in the background. The ANS regulates bodily functions that are mostly unconscious (e.g. heart and breathing rates, vasodilation and blood pressure, digestion and elimination, pupillary responses, etc.).
The ANS is a biological polarity that consists of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Both are needed for wellbeing.
Very broadly speaking, the SNS is responsible for "fight or flight” and the PNS for “rest and digest, calm & connection.”
It is important to remember that responses from the ANS are mostly “automatic” and out of our control, especially when we are dysregulated.
dissociation is a scale of cutoff.
We can dissociate from parts of ourself by denying their existence (creating exiles); we can keep distance from those who have hurt us or of whom we are afraid.
Toxic theology and spiritual abuse can cause us to dissociate from spiritual/faith communities.
A few examples: bored daydreaming, detachment, depersonalization, desensitization, or complete shut down. The climate crisis is a dissociation from the planet.
being “out of control,” meaning that the autonomic nervous system is increasingly “driving” our behavior (thoughts, feelings, actions, sensations, etc.). The four most common variations of reactivity are fight, flight, freeze, feed, and fornicate (there are also other automatic responses).
Dysregulation is not a moral failing (meaning a question of our inherent goodness); it is a part of being human. It can, however, have consequences.
Part of the key to managing dysregulation is to increase our Window of Tolerance and to learn self-regulating techniques.
the fullness of being alive, whole, integrated. First coined by Eugene Gendlin (Focusing, 1978) and significantly developed in the work of Peter Levine, it is often a pre-verbal sensation; it can be difficult to name, even by the most skilled poets. It’s the inner knowledge and bodily-felt meaning. It is a synthesis of awareness of bodily sensations, emotions, memories, and consciousness, but mostly carried by implicit knowing (that which you know but cannot yet fully experience or express).
For example, it’s the sensations you experience, even before the greeting, when seeing a beloved after a period of absence; it’s the expansiveness you feel when the sense of separateness falls away when you are in nature.
The felt sense is the deep knowing held by silence, awe, mystery, and centered intuition. It’s just “there.”
The felt sense has elements for the four perceptions: exteroception, proprioception, interoception, and neuroception.
Here's a video of Peter Levine discussing felt sense.
Four Perceptions (from outside inward)
the social categories that shape our perception of ourselves and others. For example, gender, race, affectional orientation, age, socio-economic status, caste, religion, etc. We often struggle internally with our own terms of social location; we may claim them and later slough or redefine them. We may have internalized oppression as a result of our social location. When our social location grants us "privilege" (meaning, making some things automatically easier), we may have internalized dominance.
Wounds and injuries concerning social location create Chronic, Persistent, Invasive Stress.
Window of Tolerance (WOT)
introduced and developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, it is the range of our ability to adapt and cope to stimulus and stress before a defense mechanism is activated (turn on and turned up). If we are pushed outside our WOT by others or circumstances, or if we ourselves “jump” outside our WOT, we become increasingly dysregulated.
Spiritual growth and transformation often happens at the inside margins of our Window of Tolerance, not outside