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January 3, 2020 by Rick

Magic in Co-Regulation

Swallow Falls Rock and River

That rock. That river.

I had journaled hundreds of pages on that rock and had meditated more hours than I could count by that river.

Meditation was introduced to me in a simple way. Just Sit. Breathe. 20-minutes. It was my first conscious practice of self-regulation – taking myself from feeling scattered, worried, overwhelmed, and suffering… to a place where I was… Okay. Regulated. In my body. All systems online and operating together.

This time on the rock by the river was to be different. This time, for the first time, I would be meditating back-to-back with a friend.

It was awkward at first. We’d both meditated individually but not back-to-back. Her breathing affected mine; mine affected hers. Every shift one of us made on the rock had to be met by the other person.

Questions arose… like “how much do we lean on each other?” The question was answered wordlessly as, over the following minutes, we mutually discovered that giving more weight made it easier. We felt more solid with a shared center of gravity.

As we dropped in deeper, it felt to me like Nature became more a partner in this meditation than I’d previously felt. The rock and river had helped ground me before. Now the rock supported an… Us… the river flowed with an… Us. The birds sang and we were a part of that song. There was Magic happening in the We-Space we were co-creating… a Togetherness that extended out and included far more than just two humans sitting back to back.

Co-regulation connects us together. Indeed, the feeling of Togetherness comes alive when we’re co-regulating. It’s nourishing magic for the soul. 

What is co-regulation then?

Co-regulation is when our heart fields, our thought fields, and our nervous systems interact in ways that attune us to each other.

The most common example is an upset baby. Infants have not yet learned how to self-regulate (heck, some 50-year-olds haven’t either!).

Imagine you’re in a room and a baby is crying. Their Mom picks them up and rocks, coo’s, looks them in the eye, offers skin contact, maybe a little milk… and a heart-full Presence. All of baby’s systems pick up on this and attune to Mom, and hopefully they co-regulate.

If you’ve ever witnessed this, you might also have felt a real sense of relief and calm come to your body, too. Most people think that was because the baby’s cry was distressing and, WHEW!, now baby stopped crying. There’s more to it…

When we’re around healthy co-regulation, there’s an invitation to join with the vibe. For example, happy dogs playing in a co-regulated way invite us to enter into those joyful vibes. Same with parents laughing with their kids. Same with two long-time friends deeply listening to one another.

What are some ways we can co-regulate? There are many! Here are six:

  • Sharing a long, hearty hug with a person, a tree, or a furry friend (17 seconds or more)
  • Breathing and grounding together
  • Listening to a person who is grounded and present and allowing yourself to regulate with their tone. (You could do that now, as you listen to me. You could call a friend and ask if they’d like to share some grounding together. There are also many guided meditations and instrumental music offerings to explore.)
  • Share weight with someone with a stated intention to co-regulate together. This can be back to back, resting shoulder to shoulder, or curled up in any comfortable position.
  • Singing, dancing, or chanting with a desire to be in the experience Together. (In-person is wonderful; you can practice this with recorded offerings, too – I certainly do!)
  • Holding hands and sharing a Heart’s Desire…

Let’s do that right now, if you’re willing! We’ll imagine it so you can see what that’s like. It’ll only take 3 minutes.

Imagine we’re in a circle together. As you look around you can see each person. There is a diverse mix of sizes, backgrounds, ages, skin tones, and more. What we share in this moment is a desire to co-regulate, to experience Togetherness in a way that nurtures each person and the We-Space we share.

Imagine taking hands with the beings on each side. Allow yourself to feel the initial awkwardness… take a breath for yourself. Then feel the warmth of each hand in yours. Take a breath, aware of that shared warmth.

See if you can feel the energy of connection flowing from other beings around the circle… to you… from you… through you. Take a breath and make a sound on the exhale to share relief and connection with the circle you are Together with… right here, right now.

It is my heart’s desire that we all walk this world with a sense of Togetherness. That when we feel isolated and disconnected that there be a multitude of opportunities for us to choose how to co-regulate and come back Together again to share warmth and connection.

Take a breath… and a sigh.

As we release our hands, we take with us this sense of Togetherness as we continue in our day.

Thank you!

In my work I’ve been blessed to connect with people at points when they’ve endured isolation and disconnection. Trauma and chronic pain have ways of depleting our resources… and blocking our awareness and connection to Source Energy within and around us.

It is my prayer that in this decade of the Rising 20’s that we all become conscious of our core need for both co-regulation and the nourishment of Togetherness… all grounded in safety, respect, and freedom.

Until next time, I'm Rick at Thrivingnow. And… I’d really love to know: What’s on your co-regulation menu? I’m planning to put together an actual menu to share with those who hungry for Togetherness... I invite you to email me at Rick@EmotionalFreedom.Love or visit EmotionalFreedom.Love and leave a comment. Thanks for listening.

Additional Co-Regulation Ideas

  1. I bought a white noise machine that has all kinds of sounds. Since I don't sleep with a partner, every night I play either the sound of a human heart beating, or the sound of ocean waves.
  2. Tuning in with nature by: a. taking nature photographs while I walk my neighborhood (and then sharing them on Instagram), b. intently watching birds (and other wild animals) and c. watching trees swaying in the wind and pretending that I’m part of them
  3. Walking side by side with friends
  4. Present-ing myself in the Thriving Now Circle
  5. Talking with other empathic people
  6. Listening to guided meditations from Tara Brach and Sarah Blondin (and well as Sanskrit chanting) in the (free!) InsightTimer app.
  7. Doing EMDR and CIMBs therapy work with my counselors
  8. Seeking out and working with health practitioners who are themselves grounded and who see our work together as an engaged partnership!
  9. Mindful eating with my family (seeing how slowly we can eat)
  10. Playing laughter games with others (i.e. Relative Insanity, Utter Nonsense, playing with Snapchat)
  11. Getting in checkout lines where the checker is smiling, laughing, and/or interacting wholeheartedly with people in their line. Participating!
  12. When I end up in checkout lines with checkers who look like they “aren’t really there”, making sure that they know that I SEE them, and allowing them to SEE me!
  13. Hugging and cuddling with my kids
  14. Petting and playing with our cat
  15. Sending thoughts of peace to other drivers near me on the road 
  16. Giving others my undivided attention (even if it’s a stranger, for just a few moments)
  17. Dancing with others (especially love my goofy kids for this)
  18. Playing cooperative games - “The Mind” is a good/inexpensive one!
  19. Being part of a spiritual book club

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Share Comments Below
  • You might find this interesting…

    I wrote this and then on New Year’s Day went to an ecstatic dance. We’re all in a circle and… a baby starts screaming! The facilitator invited all of us to CO-REGULATE and offer to the child, the parent, and ourselves that gift.

    Wow. Feel so blessed by that synchronicity and the experience of Togetherness with 82 people that day to start 2020.

    Best wishes for a Thriving Decade for Us All! ~Rick

    Reply

    • Wow, Rick, I so wish I were in a community where ecstatic dance was popular. Would love to have been there. There is, however, a small group of Argentinian Tango enthusiasts in our little community, and, oh, the co-regulation possible in that free-form dance is SO delicious.

      Reply

      • It’s true that a healthy ecstatic dance community can really make a difference. There’s an Agreement in each opening circle specifically about consent, and participating not being an “audience”. Even to feel all the mix of emotions being “okay” there is profoundly helpful in co-regulating across the range of emotions all of us can feel. So glad your Argentinian Tango groups gives you delicious co-regulation. ~Rick

        Reply

    • Avatar
      Angelsloveyou says:

      Our circle here is on my Co-regulation menu – right there at the top along with Guided Meditations. That is one reason I always come to the calls as it nourishes and helps me Co-regulate.

      I would love to listen to more Co-regulated breathing or relaxing at the end of your podcasts.

      When we were going to karaoke, singing and listening to others sing, it was a form of Co-regulating as we were together in this and enjoying ourselves.

      I also see laughing together as another form of Co-regulating. It helps people put aside their loneliness and possible pain for a couple seconds as they read something funny.

      Reply

  • From Sheri: “I so much enjoy your web presence having been introduced to you through the tapping insiders club. My response to the magic of co-regulation is simply your voice! I tap with those short essential tappings daily and the magic of your voice flows so beautifully. I am grateful for those moments.

    Then, I have another occasion where I observed and participated in a co-regulation. We had taken our four children to a Peter, Paul, and Mary concert. I was holding my infant son as my three little ones hung on my skirt. We went to the lobby to visit with the singers as they always did afterwards. As we waited in the crowd behind Mary Travers’ back when suddenly she stopped and said, “There’s someone I must see.” She then spun around wading through the crowd and gleefully said, “and, here he is.” She then asked to hold him and commenced cuddling and cooing to him. I was then drawn into her co-regulation at the time. So both my son and I were honored with this magical event. He is an indigo child who is now 31 years old and thriving.

    Thanks for all that you so graciously share.”

    Appreciate you, Sheri! Thanks for your story and kind words! ~Rick

    Reply

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