Polyvagal theory: 

ventral = safe and social

Sympathetic = fight or flight = activated

Dorsal = shut down

Similar to a ladder, we move from one state to the other, up and Down the ladder with safe and social at the top, and shut down at the bottom, and moving through fight or flight to get to either.

Elevation: is the mix of sympathetic and ventral = this is the feeling of being pulled towards an ideal. In this example, we purposely put ourselves into activation through our engagement with art.

As an artist I’m constantly in a flow state of autonomic activity pulled along by this phenomena of elevation. The process of creating an art work is the combination of practiced skill put into the service of chasing realization of an idealized end

As a viewer, I feel the stir towards an ideal as the arousal of inspiration. A viewer literally feels moved towards an emotional state by a work of art, wether it’s literature, a play, a piece of music, or a visual art, the work creates an experience of activation that moves us into co-regulation and imagination.

I believe this is an unexplored yet important aspect of the polyvagal theory because it’s the underpinning of why we invest ourselves so completely into the arts. Frankly, the ventral state isn’t nessasarily the most satisfying mode for consciousness. I believe that what we actually want is to safely step out of safe and social and into a position of activation, to safely feel arousal and excitement is a way that  maintains both self regulation and coregulation, i.e. arts Arts.

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