Understand Neurobiology of Trauma & Relationships

The Natural Lifemanship process begins with a sound understanding of the brain, specifically the way it develops and organizes when we are young based to a significant extent on our early experiences. For humans, the brain develops in a relational context. As infants we are unable to change anything about our circumstances. We cannot initially move our own bodies, feed ourselves, change our diapers, turn the lights on or off, adjust the volume in the room, clothe ourselves, etc. The experiences of our infancy are largely related to our biological needs and the circumstances under which those needs are satisfied or not satisfied. And these circumstances are, as a rule, relational.

We depend entirely on caregivers to meet our needs as newborns. When caregivers meet these needs, our brains make associations or connections between the rewarding experience of comfort in our bodies with the person(s) who provide these experiences. In a similar way, when caregivers do not respond in a predictably nurturing way to our needs, intimate relationships come to be associated with distress. As these experiences accumulate over time, patterns are formed that literally become our templates for relationships and for how we cope under stress. Our early attachment patterns often persist throughout our lives, influencing our largely unconscious perceptions and beliefs about relationships, and our behaviors in those relationships. Similarly, we form a relationship with ourselves and a sense of identity based on our relational experiences.

Trauma exists at one end of the continuum of experiences that shape us, and consistent attuned and nurturing caregiving exists at the other end. The Natural Lifemanship process involves becoming aware of the ways the human brain develops to accommodate the experiences of toxic stress and trauma, where survival becomes the overriding concern and relationships are experienced as unsafe or unpredictable. Equipped with this awareness, we can better understand our own and others' behavior, meet them where they are, and begin to repair and heal patterns that no longer serve us or our clients. We may also apply this knowledge to our relationships with other animals, such as horses, who form neurobiological patterns similarly through a combination of internal and external experiences in the context of relationships.

Identify Relationship Patterns

Einstein is said to have stated, if he were asked to solve a problem and had only one hour to solve it, he would spend the first 55 minutes coming up with the right question. We teach a way of understanding self and others that empowers each of us to see more deeply into human behavior and to ask the right questions. Before the field of trauma-informed care began making this information widely known, the natural question that would arise when seeking to understand undesirable behavior was "what's wrong with you (or me)?" Now, that we have a new lens, we more insightfully and compassionately ask, "What has happened in your life that has caused you to have these patterns that no longer serve you; and how can I help you change them?" Neuroscience empowers us by demonstrating that we can change the brain through new experiences and relationships. Identifying patterns in a way that informs both compassionate understanding and a clear path to healthy change is an essential step toward healing, growth and transformation.

Practice & Form New Behaviors

A sound principle is a sound principle no matter where it is applied. The principles that we teach our clients and our horses are the same principles that we practice and model in all of our relationships. Equipped with an understanding of the ways our brains have developed and an awareness of the patterns that influence our behaviors and our relationships today, we allow simple relationship principles to guide us as we work to transform these patterns. Behavioral patterns, especially those acquired in the early stages of development, are largely subconscious. They exist in the body and manifest as automatic reactions to situations we encounter each day. They become habitual. The way to change old patterns that no longer serve us is to practice something new. Natural Lifemanship principles may be practiced in relationships with horses, with other people, and even within our relationships with ourselves, or our spiritual practice. As these are practiced both during sessions and in daily life, new healthy patterns for relationship begin to replace old patterns that no longer serve us well.

Form Lasting Relationships as a Vehicle for Change

Life is full of relationships. Relationships profoundly shape and influence our lives from the moment life begins. With Natural Lifemanship you will learn how to create the kinds of relationships that heal and transform self and others, and how to help others do the same. Connected and attuned relationships lead to healthy development; they contribute to healing at any age, and enhance well-being. Connected relationships do not always come easily or naturally; they, in fact, take work. Learn with Natural Lifemanship and discover the science and the art of connected relationships.