Give permission to regulate the arousal system in a way that honors students’ survival skills

Continuing forward with the theme of inviting students into choice in any given moment, acknowledge that they all have survival strategies that have served them well. As such, give them permission to engage in those if they find themselves nearing zone 3 or in zone 3.  A symbolic practice to illustrate this to your students may be this one, taught by David TreLeavan(2018).  Invite your students to close their dominant hand’s fist as tightly as they can, if they are able.  Invite them to imagine that their safety is dependent on that fist remaining closed.  Then invite them to take their other hand, if they are able, and attempt to pry their fisted hand open with force.  What do they notice?  Now invite your students to take that fisted hand and rest it gently in the palm of the open opposite hand.  Invite them to imagine that their survival strategy is welcomed here.  What do they notice?

There are many other trauma-informed practices, specifically those drawn from mindful compassion work, that we can invite into our in- and out-of-classroom settings empowering our students to safely care for themselves, while we work to reform the systems where they may not feel they belong.   I am happy to share those with you so feel free to email me  if you are interested.  In the meantime, I invite you to consider that the very fact we are re-designing our learning and development spaces to be compassionately mindful of our students who have experienced trauma is a powerful step toward that transformational process.

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