The Body Keeps the Score: DEALING WITH HYPERAROUSAL

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Over the past few decades mainstream psychiatry has focused on using drugs to change the way we feel, and this has become the accepted way to deal with hyper-and hypoarousal. I will discuss drugs later in this chapter, but first I need to stress the fact that we have a host of inbuilt skills to keep us on an even keel.
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In chapter 5 we saw how emotions are registered in the body. Some 80 percent of the fibers of the vagus nerve (which connects the brain with many internal organs) are afferent;
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that is, they run from the body into the brain.
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This means that we can directly train our arousal system by the way we breathe,
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chant,
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and move,
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a principle that has been utilized since time immemorial in places like China and India,
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and in every religious practice that I know of,

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but that is suspiciously eyed as “alternative” in mainstream culture.
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In research supported by the National Institutes of Health, my colleagues and I have shown that ten weeks of yoga practice markedly reduced the PTSD symptoms of patients who had failed to respond to any medication or to any other treatment.
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