Fascinated by Dr. Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory (See The Polyvagal Institute), I embarked on a journey of sharing valuable tips and implementing new strategies with my counseling clients. Alongside this, I crafted a range of resources, encompassing exercises and comprehensive lists of strategies designed to aid individuals in managing their anger, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and depression.
Gradually, this endeavor evolved into the creation of a self-help book. Voilà! With the invaluable assistance of my detail-oriented editor, Elissa Oman, in the summer of 2023, we proudly published, Return to Center: Simple Strategies to Navigate Distress, Depression, and Disconnection.
Overview of Return to Center
Let’s start with a fundamental inquiry: What is the essence of Return to Center?The essence of the book lies in those inevitable moments when we lose touch with ourselves and are overwhelmed by our stress response. My ultimate goal was to guide readers back to a serene and calm state, fostering a connection with both themselves and others. The book doesn’t focus on theoretical concepts; it provides a toolbox of strategies to help readers manage their autonomic nervous system responses.
In addition to my curiosity about the Polyvagal Theory, I drew from over thirty years of clinical practice, addressing various aspects of emotional well-being, self-care, and the journey towards becoming one’s best caregiver.
Return to Center is not just a theoretical guide; it provides tangible strategies and practical tips for nurturing a healthy lifestyle and challenging unhelpful thought patterns. The inclusion of Inner Child work and the development of self-compassion adds depth to the reader’s exploration of emotional well-being.
The book’s strength lies in its simplicity and accessibility. It effectively breaks down complex concepts, making them understandable and applicable to daily life. The reader is guided through a journey of self-discovery, self-regulation, and the practicality of the various strategies.
Here is what Vincent T. Covello, PhD Founder and Director of the Center for Risk Communication in New York, New York had to say:
“From cultivating healthy relationships and fostering self-compassion to connecting with nature, nurturing physical well-being, and exploring creative outlets, the book encourages a comprehensive approach to stress management that extends beyond the confines of a single strategy. It aims to empower readers to take charge of their mental health and make informed decisions regarding their well-being.”
Basic Concepts of Return to Center
The basic concepts include an exploration of the Polyvagal Theory’s role in mental well-being, understanding the vagus nerve, and the autonomic nervous system, along with identifying emotional signals and sensations. Additionally, it offers practical exercises such as creating a personal trigger list, recognizing, and navigating three key nervous system states, and employing techniques to regulate these states. Readers will have opportunities to:
- Discover the supportive role of The Polyvagal Theory in their mental well-being.
- Recognize the significance of the vagus nerve and the autonomic nervous system.
- Identify emotional fear or danger signals, as well as sensations of comfort and emotional security.
- Create a personal trigger response map for emotional danger.
- Understand the characteristics and sensations of three key nervous system states: Charged, Give Up, and Centered States.
- Employ strategies and techniques to slow the Charged State and revitalize the Give Up State.
- Strengthen their ability to observe new aspects of their thoughts and emotions.
- Nurture a healthy lifestyle using practical tips.
- Challenge unhelpful thought patterns with effective approaches.
- Explore the fundamentals of Inner Child work.
- Develop self-compassion.
8 Patricia Morgan Quotes
- “Inevitably life has challenges—some easy to solve and some so deeply distressful that our painful feelings overwhelm our ability to think clearly! We don’t realize it, but being triggered into overwhelm—distress, depression, anxiety, anger—robs of our best selves.”
- “Where did my brain go? It went into emotional dysregulation, survival mode, and overwhelm.”
- “As an adult you can learn to be your own best caregiver and bring calm to your nervous and emotional system which is a key factor in communicating effectively with others.”
- “Like the driver who drives erratically, your mind may jump from one thought to another, being reactive. But you can learn to have more control over your mind and avoid unnecessarily activating the brain’s alarm bell, the amygdala.”
- “The goal of Inner Child Work is to develop a caring relationship with ourselves from the awareness of our Wise Adult Self. It is as if we allow our compassionate heart to caringly take charge. . . (It) is not about blaming our parents, but more about changing family patterns.”
- “Protect yourself from others who are not kind, supportive, or compassionate. If you have repeated conflict with a loved one, set boundaries, and seek therapy for yourself and/or go together.”
- “The simple act of calming the mind calms the whole nervous system returning you to the Centered State.
- “The key question is, Can I easily and effectively Return to Center?”
Return to Center includes not only the core principles of the Polyvagal Theory but also perspectives and practical tips that I have shared with clients throughout my clinical practice. I take satisfaction in the positive outcomes it has yielded.
In conclusion, Return to Center is a valuable resource for those seeking practical tools to navigate life’s challenges and enhance emotional well-being. If readers commit to the appropriate strategies they can reclaim their centered state in the face of distress, depression, and disconnection.
Should you be interested in learning about my other publications or purchasing Return to Center, click HERE.