Anchored (Book Club)

“When the inner workings of our biology are a mystery, we feel as if we’re at the mercy of unknown, unexplainable, and unpredictable experiences. Once we know how our nervous system works, we can work with it. As we learn the art of befriending our nervous system, we learn to become active operators of this essential system.”

Deb Dana

We spent the end of 2023 reading Anchored: How To Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory by Deb Dana together in The Haven Book Club. It gave us an opportunity to learn more about Polyvagal Theory and experiment with practical explorations in a safe environment.

What is Anchored?

In essence, Anchored is a clear and simple introduction to Polyvagal Theory of the autonomic nervous system. Deb Dana has been interpreting Stephen Porges’ theoretical work and making it accessible for a mainstream readership for many years. She is good at capturing the essence of complex ideas and finding their practical application in creatively compelling ways.

The nervous system sits at the core of everything we experience as humans. If highly sensitive people can raise awareness and understanding of our autonomic patterns (of connection and protection), we can learn to most effectively work with our core rhythms and internal processes in service of what matters most.

Many highly sensitive people move through life with a frazzled nervous system. A sensitive nervous system is constantly scanning and processing the inner, outer, and inter-relational environment for signs of danger. It can quickly become overwhelmed. But it also lays down patterns early on in life to help navigate the world in a state of safety. For the highly sensitive person, individual safety is linked to the happiness and regulation of the wider social group, so in a world where conflict abounds, the sensitive nervous system might find it extra hard to come home in regulation.

In Anchored, Deb Dana helps us recognise and name the sounds, signs, and feelings associated with different states of arousal. She provides a range of practical exercises to help us map our way through the states, with a pathway home to connection and safety.

A Map For Our Inner Landscapes

Alongside other areas of my life, this book would have been a great companion when I began performing live music. Looking back through this lens, there are many aspects that made it harder than it needed to be. I can see that some of the pressures, expectations, and demands I put on myself made it a whole lot harder to stay regulated and connected at times.

But as we often say here in The Haven…it’s never too late. There’s always another chapter waiting to be written.