Inside ME? A Reptile!? (I know you’re thinking I’ve really lost it).
Yes, you have a reptile living inside you. It’s not as creepy as it sounds…
….and it speaks and science will back me up!
Yup, your little reptile has a language you probably can’t understand, (if you even know it exists!)
The reptilian brain protects you, it keeps you safe in a world of uncertainty and lurking danger. It is the oldest part of the brain. Sometimes referred to as the “animal brain”, “lizard brain”. I’ve even heard it called “crocodile brain”.
The actual reptilian brain consists of the brainstem and the cerebellum.
Since this is not a neuroscience blog I’ll spare you the irrelevant details.
You’re probably reading this because you are already overwhelmed and stressed out. soo…
What is relevant:
Being burnt out, exhausted and feeling irritable. Your reactions may go from 0-60 in a flash of anger. Or you are lethargic and can’t think clearly because brain fog has highjacked your mind.
The energy has drained from your body and you feel like a sloth after an all-night buffet binge. Too much? Maybe you’re a normal neurotic and just need a few tips to de-stress.
In any case, you might be feeling frazzled or freaked out because there is a literal or perceived threat to your survival.
PS. a perceived threat is just as real to the reptile. Which means it could be an irrational – or a rational – fear that has you chasing your tail.
Just to be clear. An example of a rational fear would be a hungry monstrous Grizzly Bear in your living room. RUN. (No, never mind you won’t outrun a bear. What was I thinking?!)
An irrational fear would be the world is unsafe. This is a program that is running in most peoples system with and without awareness.
Remember, you don’t grok the reptiles language….more importantly, you have become an animal.
Well, you’re not alone. Most of us are operating out of the lizard brain more than we’re aware.
Human Beings are animals…and that’s generally good news.
The only problem is; that there is very little danger lurking in the bushes in our modern age.
As “civilized” humans we longer face death on a daily basis, in a literal sense. Many of us perceive a threat and are stuck in that animal brain.
We can’t think clearly and the world is a little too dangerous. We can get stuck in survival patterns of fight, flight and/or freeze. These are the states controlled and operated by the lizard.
Non-cognitive states, which means you can’t think your way out of a highly stressful situation (one that could be life or death). Period.
Your animal brain isn’t differentiating between a Tiger chasing you or your sitting in the dark scared because your brother locked you in a closet when you were 2 years old. The threat is a threat and it is real to the reptile, in both cases.
You are scared, probably confused and your body is flooding with sensations you may or may not be aware of. In both cases, you are in imminent danger.
Both are real, both are creating a biological response to the treat as if it is happening now.
You may or may not be aware of that fact. You might even think it’s impossible because you’re well over 35 now and no longer scared of the dark (unless you are) AND there certainly isn’t a Tiger in your living room!
So let’s explore:
- How to become more in touch with your inner reptile
- How to communicate in a language that can be understood
- Why sensations are so important and how to feel them
- How to be in a relationship with your Self to become your own medicine
What Are Sensations?
Literally, what you notice as a physical sense internally…in your body.
Most people, in my experience, even those who work with their bodies….such as yoga teachers, pilates instructors or movement therapists have a level of inability to sense into their bodies.
I’m saying this to help take the intimidation factor out.
It’s not easy we’re not socialized to notice our body as much as trained to be intellectual. AND we should take pride in our developed neo-cortex! Why not 🙂
The fact is the inability to drop down into the body and sense is a factor that contributes to a limited life experience. There is so much more going on than can usually be perceived.
Sensations are a doorway to pre-egoic states, before forming briefs and before a sense of self (identity). Sensations are a wordless knowing of who we really are.
So the question becomes…
What would your life be like if you could be centered in the present without a survival defense keeping you in your head? Who are you behind the defensive identifications? (it’s rhetorical, for now)
The language of the primitive reptile is sensations. Bodily sensations.
You can have full access to your inner reptile when you are able to understand and communicate together via sense awareness. It’s not totally known why but the body’s sensations seem to be the strongest communication channel.
For now, we’re working purely with physical sensation, meaning what is happening IN your body.
The Language of Sensation:
(Here are a few sensations you may feel in your body)
A simple exercise to grok your body’s experience and speak with your lizard:
Remember the last time you had a pleasant time doing (something active is best) what you love to do. OR if you aren’t active, recall the most pleasant memory you have.
Take a few minutes to engross yourself into the memory
Now, notice what you’re aware of in your body….any sensations?
WHAT are you aware of?
WHERE do you feel the sensation in your body (belly, chest, head…)
Drop down into your body right now, let the story go. sense what is happening inside.
Can you list any sensations from above or anything else – any pleasant sensations?
Allow yourself plenty of time to track internal sensations and stay with any that are especially pleasant.
It can also be a general sense of “goodness” you don’t need to be specific. If you aren’t able to notice sensations it is ok. This is a new language and it takes time. Be patient and kind to yourself. You also have to feel safe enough to drop down into your body. So if you can’t feel anything it’s ok. Try a couple minutes each day and notice if something changes in the next week.
IMPORTANT – when tracking sensations reinforce what is pleasant, really take your time to pause and notice what is good. Too often because of the simplicity of this exercise people want to go on to the next thing.
The lizard says “yeah but…..”
This exercise is gently letting the animal brain know that pleasure exists and therefore there is no danger.
Reptile can relax (go back to sunbathing or chillin’ under a rock).
Hyper-vigilance is when your primitive brain hasn’t realized you are now safe. With the language of sensation, a little practice and a lot of orienting to pleasure you can let the reptile know you’re safe.
You are safe and you are alive, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Yes, it’s still possible not to feel safe, but you are. You are alive and you made here – now.
- Again, imagine or visualize the last time you were engaged in a pleasurable experience. Remember the event or activity in as much detail as possible. It might just be a knowingness of it occurring. Then drop into your body and notice what is happening now, in the present. Any pleasant sensations?
- Again, this is now, present tense.
- Become aware of sensations takes time if you don’t notice anything it’s totally ok!
- Perhaps pull out some clothing with differing textures, corduroy, velvet, silk, cashmere, cotton, polyester, spandex…. whatever you can find. Run your hands over the various textures and find one that is the most appealing.
- How do you know it feels “good”. See if you can find what is pleasurable about it inside your body.
- Explore the language of sensation as often as possible. Especially when you are noticing pleasure. Drop down into your body and ask yourself “how do I know this is good?” Notice the specific sensation of good…. is it tingles, openness, widening chest, deeper breath, softer belly etc….
When you explore in this way you are speaking to your inner reptile and explaining that there is safety, that you are no longer locked in the closet, that was then this is now, that there is no tiger lurking and you can get back to the business of living life with more vitality.
For a detailed 7 Step Process to Destress Download my FREE e-book here.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to engage. If there is anyone in your life that would benefit from these simple exercises please forward this page.
Leave me a comment or question. Reptile to Reptile 🙂
Leave a Reply