Trauma and stress dysregulate the nervous system such that our threat responses become either constant (hypervigilant) or binary (all/nothing, on/off). Our experiences in life have rewired us to appear to prefer isolation to relationship, addiction to connection, and checking out to checking in. These preferences are maladaptive, meaning they are unhealthy coping strategies that do further damage to our systems and run counter to our physiology and our evolution. We are meant to find comfort, meaning, safety, growth, healing, and pleasure in relationship.
Some struggle with a particular person (child, partner, or loved one), others find it difficult to be vulnerable, intimate, and playful in general, and many people want to deepen their capacity for reliably safe connection and communication. Most of us physically embody inherited and cultural trauma, and all of us have a responsibility to contribute to the healing of the collective body. The micro feeds the macro and vice versa. White people in particular have a responsibility toward their own embodiment in part to be able to support the anti-racism work they wish to undertake, to recreate or reunite with their long-abandoned somatic ancestral identity, and to interrupt dissociation-into-privilege.
The most cutting edge neuroscience supports collective somatic expressions of joy as potent sources of brain health and healing, while the most popular Western healing modalities (from psychotherapy to Somatic Experiencing) are often colonized and fragmented versions of the healing practices from Indigenous cultures around the world.
The answer to the question, "How can we come closer to the people we love?" lies buried in plain sight, in what all of our ancestors did best: song and dance.
Move your body in the pleasurable company of others. Communicate with your hips more than your lips. Use your voice in ways that bring you out of your head and set fire to the space around you. Touch each other. Play. Learn the way your body speaks. Learn to speak back to it. Allow yourself to exist in the liminal spaces. Know less. Feel more. Let science inform the path but let the path be traveled by your undulating spine and circling pelvis. Surrender to the rhythm that calls you.
Rhythm is what the nervous system craves, what the brain understands, what dissociation struggles to feel, what makes individuals into a group, what triggers orgasm, what soothes an infant, what organizes the sensory system, what facilitates ecstasy, what underlies human physiology, and what connects us to the beginning of time. Fortunately, rhythm is a benevolent teacher, longing to become an intimate friend. What is required of you is steadfastness. You gotta show up. You gotta come to, well, play.