In our movement classes this week, we’ve been focusing on the trigeminal nerve, the largest sensory nerve in the body. Activating and re-habituating the sensory nervous system forms a huge part of the focus of my work in JoyRide for a couple of different reasons:
- The brain relies on sensory input to decide what response to send out (a parasympathetic response or a sympathetic reflex)
- When we are living or riding from a place of sympathetic dominance (so we are operating for more than 50 % of the time from our survival nervous system), the sensory system starts to go offline, limiting the amount of sensory input the brain receives. When this occurs, the brain has no choice but to respond reflexively, and consequently we found ourselves stuck in predictable cycles of behavior and response.
In the sympathetic system, the trigeminal nerve sucks in towards the centre of the body and away from the surface. This occurs both for functional reasons (we don’t want to feel all the feels in a survival situation) and logistically due to structural changes. For instance, as we move into a fight/flight response, the eye sockets rotate in and down, causing the orbital branch of the trigeminal nerve to stretch and in an effort to maintain its position, stick closer to the bone.
In the parasympathetic, you can feel the nerve respond to light pressure of the fingers with an equal and opposing pressure as it rests underneath the surface of the skin.
Your body is well worth getting to know. It continually and never-endingly blows me away.