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What is an emotion? Can changing your body physiology reduce emotional distress? How can we work with anxiety, anger and depression? Answering these questions and more will be the focus of this workshop.

Emotions emerge from the internal environment of the body. They are initially maps of patterns of reflexes, flows and secretions and musculoskeletal tone. We will explore the history of emotion research and the ‘Constructed Emotion’ model of Lisa Feldman Barrett.

There is a huge stream of new science that keeps emphasising how important vagal activity is to health and happiness. The vagus regulates oxygen control, digestion and the immune system. When the ‘new vagus’ fires we feel safe and happy.

We can think of the vagus as an alternative spinal cord for the organs. It provides a major boost of information about the core of the body. The slow background tone of the body is essential for health and is often missing in pain, anxiety and depression.

The relational touch of cranial work can help bring awareness and choice to the process of emerging emotion and help down-regulate cycling emotional processing that feels out of control.

  • Emotions and the body.
  • 'Constructed Emotion' model developed by Lisa Feldman Barrett. 
  • Other models of emotion: emotions are responses to deep nervous system drives of seeking novelty or avoiding danger (Panksepp); theory of ‘somatic markers’ (Damasio).
  • Deepening into the polyvagal theory of Dr Stephen Porges - new vagus versus old vagus and supporting safety.
  • Working with the heart, belly and throat - ‘the vagal axis’.
  • Using touch to support opening the heart (heart brain) and meeting our gut instincts (belly brain).
  • Principles to work with anxiety, anger and depression in a cranial context. 
  • Focusing and the felt sense.