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Stillness - 1 Page Lesson

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

This is a segment from my Polyvagal One Pagers free PDF in my File Share. There are more short lessons on the fundamentals of the Polyvagal Theory in that PDF as well. These are useful for your own short lessons, classes you might teach or handouts you might give out at a seminar or workshop.


safe & social + shutdown = stillness

Stillness is a mixed state combination. It’s the ventral vagal social engagement system being utilized along with the dorsal vagal shutdown system. Stillness is being immobilized while in safety.

The ability to be still while safe is imperative for basic life functioning:

  • sitting in silence

  • practicing self-reflection

  • using the restroom

  • being physically intimate

  • sleeping

Individuals that are stuck in a more flight/fight defensive state may experience feelings of danger when still. For them, being immobilized in stillness is simply unsafe. The safety pathways are not active enough to settle into a calm stillness.

If you’re already in a flight/fight state of danger, then you need to be mobile. If you were in the

wild, your body would be ready to run or fight. You wouldn’t sit in a chair in this state. The gazelle that is running from a lion doesn’t lay down to go to sleep. They use the energy within them.

For even more information on the Polyvagal Theory, check out these other resources I have:

  • You can download a 1-page Polyvagal Theory resource in my File Share. There's this and many many other one-pagers for you to use.

  • The Polyvagal 101 page

  • the Polyvagal Theory on the Stuck Not Broken podcast, episodes 101-109

  • plus everything else I have in the blog and the Polyvagal 101 course below


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