WHAT IS THE TRIPLE VAGAL METHOD®?
The Triple Vagal Method® (TVM™) was developed after 7 years of applied research and thousands of documented sessions. The Triple Vagal Method® is a somatic trauma transformation method that aims to release & heal trauma while increasing vagal tone through physical manipulation of the main branches of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for fight or flight, freeze, and social engagement responses in the body and we engage the branches responsible of these responses safely in each TVM™ session. This is done through physical touch and simulation of the nervous system; safely, effectively and rapidly.
The Triple Vagal Method® (TVM™) is a bottom up somatic approach to trauma healing that is achieved by releasing trauma from the nervous system in order to complete any unresolved trauma cycles, this encourages the releasing of oxytocin and the breaking down calcification (neuro speech fuzz) of the fascia all the while reducing the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
TVM™ is an applied modality based on the polyvagal theory. We understand that the body stores different types of trauma in different parts of the nervous system, soft tissue and even organs. All that may be released through physical stimulation of the vagus nerve to rapidly switch from sympathetic (threat or survival mechanism) to the parasympathetic system (rest and digest).
Our teachings also incorporate elements of ancient somatic embodiment practices and modern day neuroscience for maximum effectiveness. TVM is taught through 3 Levels.
HOW DOES TVM™ WORK?
TVM™ actively engages the polyvagal nervous system and ladder to manually stimulate oxytocin in a calculated approach to rebuild the polyvagal tone and neural-pathways to rehabilitate trauma responses in the body. This is done through structured and controlled surges and allowances of time to facilitate neuroplasticity and reprogram a new baseline of neural-pathways for trauma responses.
HOW IS IT APPLIED?
When applying The Triple Vagal Method® (TVM™) , we rely primarily on physically stimulating the nervous system to complete the trauma cycle to heal deregulation and disassociation and restore safety in the body. This is is applied by pressing onto the pressure points of the body to release calcification that is stored in the tissue to facilitate trauma transformation and rapid healing.
WHY THE TRIPLE VAGAL METHOD® (TVM™)?
A HOLISTIC, BODY BASED AND FAST PACED APPROACH TO PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL TRAUMA TRANSFORMATION
Overcomes The Cognitive Limitations That Other Interventions Have
Transforms Addictions & Addictive Patterns
Rapid Healing Of Depression & Suicidal Thoughts
Heals Physical Injuries & Physical Trauma
Instant release Of Emotional Trauma & Transformation
Decreases PTSD & CPTSD Symptoms
Attunes The Nervous System To Relaxation
Does Not Require Re-Activating Past Trauma
Creates An Instant Surge Of Oxytocin In The Body (Scientifically Proven Hormone That Heals Trauma)
Rapid Activation Of The Parasympathetic Nervous System & Building Vagal Tone
TVM™ REBUILDS HEALTHIER NEUROLOGICAL PATHWAYS THROUGH NEUROPLASTICITY
WHO CAN PRACTICE TVM™?
YOGA PRACTITIONERS & TEACHERS
MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLORS
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE PROFESSIONALS
ANYBODY CAN LEARN AND PRACTICE TVM™ !
THE TRIPLE VAGAL METHOD®: TRAUMA, FASCIA & THE VAGUS NERVE
Intuitively, we all know that stress shows up in our bodies as muscular tension. But, when we look more closely at the body-mind connection we recognize that fascia plays a key role in how we physically experience stress and heal from traumatic events. Furthermore, since the Vagus nerve plays an important role in communicating changes in fascia to your brain, we explore how attending to vagal tone helps you to heal stored trauma.
Fascia also plays a key role in your resilience. You can nourish fascia and the Vagus nerve by attending to your body and mind through sessions with the Triple Vagal Method®, sensory awareness, conscious breathing, and mindful movement. These tools help you to recover more quickly from stressful experiences and heal traumatic events from your past.
Fascia, also known as connective tissue, is a fibrous web that extends into every structure and system of your body. There are many different types of fascia including superficial layers just under your skin and deeper layers that wrap around your bones and muscles. Fascia provides a nourishing and lubricating layer around your lungs which intertwines with your pericardium—the layer of fascia around your heart. You’ll also find connective tissue around all of your digestive organs. One of the key functions of healthy fascia is that it allows the surrounding tissues to slide and glide across each other.
Fascia is also found in each of your endocrine glands; so much so that the founder of Integral Anatomy, Dr. Gil Hedley, refers to fascia as a whole body endocrine organ. For example, fascia plays a key role in transmitting hormones (e.g. adrenaline, estrogen, insulin, thyroid hormones, oxytocin) and neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine) throughout your body. Thus we see that fascia is also deeply intertwined with the nervous system. Furthermore, fascia plays a key role in the immune system.
Lack of movement, emotional stress, physical injury and historical trauma can lead to the stickiness or hardening (crystallization) of fascia. There is a small amount of this hardening of the fascia that occurs each night when we sleep. Dr. Hedley refers to this as the “fuzz” that accumulates between the layers of fascia (if you are comfortable with viewing a cadaver, you can see his “fuzz speech” here). Overtime, this fuzz can build up and is associated with vicious cycles of chronic pain, systemic inflammation, histamine intolerance, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis). The good news is that TVM combines manual mindful movement, deep breathing, and physical stimulation which all help to melt the fuzz, breaks down the crystallization and rehydrate your fascia and rehabilitates Vagal tone.
Fascia and the Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve plays a key role in communicating changes in fascia to your brain. You can think of the vagus nerve as a bi-directional information highway between brain and body that helps regulate your autonomic nervous system. Stressful events engage your sympathetic nervous system through the fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system is like a gas pedal which speeds you up and the vagus nerve provides a “vagal brake” which slows you down. When fully engaged, the vagus nerve allows you to let go of fight or flight for the purpose of resting, digesting, and bonding with others during times of safety. However, in situations that are traumatic or life threatening, this vagal brake can kick in an abrupt manner bringing you to a hard stop. This is referred to as vasovagal syncope which can lead to nausea, dizziness, or fainting. This is how intense stimulus can get stuck as unresolved trauma in the body.
The vagus nerve also plays a key role in your digestive system health as it innervates (extends into) the stomach, spleen, liver, intestines, and colon as part of the gut-brain axis. The gut has been called our second or “enteric” brain, in part because the gut is capable of producing the same neurotransmitters found in the brain. These neurochemicals are communicated between our digestive system and brainstem via the vagus nerve. However, the fascia plays a key role in the quality of the conversation.
You can think of fascia as the largest sensory organ in your body as it houses 250 million nerve endings. What is fascinating is that there are 3 times as many sensory neurons than motor neurons; thus fascia has a primary role of communicating information about what’s happening in your body to your brain. The tissues of the fascia are meant to expand and contract. However, when we have experienced a physical injury or emotional trauma we tend to go into shock which restricts movement to ensure our survival. Simply put, we either move into either freeze (tonic immobility) or faint (collapsed immobility) responses. If this trauma response doesn’t’ resolve we can feel stuck in having too much tone in the body or too little. We lose that capacity to rhythmically expand and contract. Unresolved trauma has consequences on our emotional and physical health that are directly linked to unresolved trauma like CPTSD, PTSD and your immune system, IBS, auto-immune and medically unexplained symptoms, fibromyalgia, insomnia, weight gain, stroke and addictions amongst other ailments. Read an article by Dr Arielle Schwartz about this connection here. Not only can the fascial fuzz build up; but, without movement we tend to lose our connection to our bodily sensations. We are more likely to feel disconnected or even dissociated. So, physical and emotional healing involves restoring a relationship to your body. However, when you have chronic pain or illness it is often difficult to reconnect to the body.
You may feel as though your body has betrayed you or that your illness has been a source of trauma in and of itself. Or, reconnecting to sensations might feel frightening because you are more likely to experience painful emotions or traumatic memories. So, the key is to progress slowly on the path towards embodiment. Fascia and the vagus nerve hold keys about how to do this safely.
Dr. Stephen Porges, developer of the polyvagal theory, coined the term neuroception to reflect the process by which the autonomic nervous system scans for and responds to internal and external cues of threat. This happens automatically (without conscious awareness) which leads to chronic hypervigilance or high sensitivity to stress. However, you can also engage in conscious neuroception by observing your body for signals that give you feedback about the state of your nervous system. By observing your body, you can determine if you are feeling calm and connected, keyed up in “fight or flight,” feeling frozen or feeling shut down and collapsed.
Signals that you your body is in a threat response include:
digestive distress (bloating, acid reflux, IBS)
increased muscular tension (especially in your diaphragm, ribcage, chest, or psoas)
loss of postural tone or feeling collapsed
changes in how you are breathing (fast, shallow, held)
feeling jumpy, restless, fidgety
excessive still or feeling “frozen”
Self-knowledge of your body and mind allows you to engage in strategies that bring you into an optimal zone of nervous system regulation. For example, if you feel dull, numb, or collapsed you may need upregulate your nervous system. You can do so with movement and breath practices that engage mobilization strategies to unwind from chronic freeze or faint responses. You can also explore how it feels to tune into cues of safety that allow you to rest into stillness and initiate a “relaxation response.” Be patient, reclaiming healthy stillness often takes longer to develop.
How do you know that you are in the “optimal zone” of nervous system regulation? Look at the following 8 C’s as cues that you’re in the zone. For those of you who know Internal Family Systems, being in the zone is “Self” energy.
You know you are in the zone when you feel:
Calm in your body and mind
Connected to yourself and others
an enhanced sense of Clarity
Compassionate towards yourself and others
Creative and playful
Courageous and empowered
Curious about your inner experience and needs
and Confident that you can take action in a meaningful manner
Embodiment, Fascia and the Vagus Nerve
Embodiment is the conscious awareness of your felt sense of self. You can wake up the connections between fascia and your vagus nerve when you breathe deeply or stretch your body. This helps you to become aware of your sensations and you will begin to notice changes that occur in your muscles, organs, or heart rate. It is through awareness of interceptive changes that we wake up our internal sense of self.
So, if you woke up with a sore neck, you can explore your sensations to gain insight into why your feel this way. For example, you might begin to notice that the tight feeling in your neck corresponds to a feeling of tightness in your throat, tension in your chest, or tightness in your belly. Or, you might begin to sense sense emotions of sadness, anger, or fear.
Physical tension in your muscles and connective tissue is a protective layer which we call “armoring” in somatic psychology. It is held as a form of memory and will not release until you know that you are safe. That is why we cannot force change upon ourselves and why CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often referred to as Talking Therapy) often isn't effective in healing trauma. Unless the core trauma cycle in the physical body is resolved, the trauma cycle will often re-activate. Pushing too fast to resolve the trauma may cause a “rubber band” effect in which you stretch too far which leads to further contraction. Therefore, I invite you to think of an embodiment somatics as a conversation with your body. In Somatic Experiencing® (by Dr. Peter Levine) for instance, you are invited to listen to sensations and respond with movement. Then, ask your body, “did I get it right?” Listen for feedback in the form of sensation. Moving and breathing should feel good enough and while you may feel an “edge” of discomfort you are still in your optimal zone of nervous system regulation.
Notice if you have a tendency to be aggressive with yourself. If you experience a “stuck” sensation gently rest your attention there. Ask this part of your body what it needs from you. See if you can soften and respond with your 8 C’s. How might curiosity help? Can you engage self-compassion? Perhaps creative and playful movements such as a gentle rocking or humming creates a greater sense of calm or connection with yourself. While this is a gentle approach to trauma resolution in the body, it often triggers unwanted memories and unnecessary re living of traumatic events. This is why the Triple Vagal Method®, renders itself as a superior modality where we don't need to engage any part of the cognition to recall traumatic events or relive them which in the hands of an inexperienced therapist may even trap the trauma deeper and further entrench it within the psyche.