Imagine that you are walking down a path through the woods and directly in front of your next step is a poisonous snake. You may automatically jump back before you even have a conscious thought. You may gasp or scream. You may think "I hate snakes!" or "I almost stepped on that snake!" or "Oh! That's just a snake basking in the sunny spot of the trail". You may then take a deep breath or start running in the other direction or step around the snake or swing at the snake with your walking stick.
All internal and external responses you have to seeing the snake are controlled by the nervous system. The amygdala (located in the limbic system in the brain) first perceives the threat, then sends signals to the hypothalamus which, in turn, stimulates the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous systems (the autonomic nervous system). If you freeze in response to the snake, your parasympathetic nervous system was most activated. If you run or fight, your sympathetic nervous system was most activated. The body then releases adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones).
Stress hormones are stimulating to the various bodily organs to help the body gear up to fight, flee, or freeze. The pupils may dilate, letting in more light so you can see better. Your heart rate increases, pumping blood to the parts of your body needed to run or fight. Your hearing may become sharper. You may have the perception of time slowing down. The body prepares itself for blood thickening, increasing the chance of clotting in the event you sustain an injury.
The nervous system is the control center for every function of your body. It controls thoughts, feelings, blinking, movement, memory, digestion, sleep, senses, breathing, puberty, heartrate, aging, and much more.. It controls the things you are consciously aware of and it controls that the things you do without any conscious thought, such as pumping blood through your body.
In Brainspotting, the therapist helps the client access the parts of the nervous system that have to do with long-term memory, fight, flight, or freeze, and emotional regulation.
Helpful to understand some other key phrases and terms.
The nervous system is the control center of the body. It controls thoughts, automatic responses, and movement. If I am walking down a path and see a poisonous snake, I may suddenly freeze. This freeze response a nervous system response the starts in the lower portions or bottom of the brain. The amygdala is triggered and sends messages to the hypothalamus, which then stimulates the parasympathic and sympathetic nervous systems (both part of the autonomic nervous system)
Brainspotting is an approach to healing in which the therapist assists the client with healing by accessing the emotional regulation centers in the brain and the felt sense in the body. By bringing awareness to