Have you experienced glimmers? Chances are, you have. Of course, if you’re not familiar with that term, you may not even know what a glimmer is.
You’ve almost certainly experienced triggers. They’re those words, actions, or even people that send us – often unexpectedly – into emotional turmoil.
Think of glimmers as their polar opposite.
What Are Glimmers Exactly?
Glimmers refer to those moments when you feel that deep connection with the oneness of everything and the world. Your nervous system is calm and regulated and you feel open and calm.
The word used in this context was coined in 2018 in the book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy by psychotherapist Deb Dana. As such, the term has become widespread in therapeutics.
Dana worked with Steven Porges, the neuroscientist who pioneered so much of the work with and research around the vagus nerve. According to his Polyvagal Theory, our autonomic nervous system has different responses to specific emotional and social situations. Glimmers make us feel so relaxed and open because they activate our ventral vagal nervous system.
A glimmer could be sparked by a walk in nature, a smile, a song, a scent, or any number of other situations. Any of the senses can bring forth a glimmer. And when they do, you feel a certain energy around that glimmer that your brain recognizes as peaceful.
These small moments shape your system in a gentle but significant way. Slowly shifting to a mindset that more frequently recognizes the bright side can improve mental and physical health.
How They Differ from Triggers
Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative. This gave us an evolutionary advantage when we had to always be on the lookout for danger. But since we are largely free from many of those dangers now, the need to ruminate on the negative is no longer advantageous.
As a result, your highly attuned sensitivity to the world at large can send you into a downward spiral before you even know you’re in it. This is the work of triggers. They are cues that signal potential threats. The problem is, you don’t always recognize them and they are often overblown in their actual ability to cause danger.
And once a trigger reaches your autonomic nervous system, there’s no gatekeeper that determines whether the trigger is valid. At this point, you respond with either the fight or flight route of the sympathetic nervous system or the frozen route of the parasympathetic system.
This presents outwardly as either anger, an urge to retreat, or shutting down. Once again, these triggers can be so sudden and subtle that you’re often not aware of the shift until you’re emotionally reacting in one of these three ways.
Living a triggered life is hard on the mind, body, and soul.
Becoming More Aware of Glimmers
Given our propensity for focusing on negativity and the sneaky nature of triggers, it can be a challenge to notice glimmers.
But your biology is wired to thrive on connection and notice the good moments too. Even if you’ve experienced significant trauma or crisis. Becoming aware of these positive moments doesn’t discount or belittle your experience. They instead offer respite from the discomfort of emotional distress. And with less emotional distress comes more proactive behavior.
There’s no secret formula to recognizing and embracing glimmers. It’s a practice. For example, you can set a glimmer intention where you promise you’ll look for one in the morning each day. That doesn’t mean you’ll find one every day, but the more you find over time, the more adept you become at sensing them. You can also keep a journal of every glimmer you experience and then reflect on it/them at the end of the day.
It’s important to recognize that one of the traps of experiencing glimmers is resistance to them. At first, you may feel guilty for feeling good – especially if you’re having a hard time in your life. Or you may think it’s pointless because they won’t be permanent.
But eventually, the nervous system begins to reshape and move toward those positive patterns of connection. And once you trust yourself to enjoy all their shininess, momentary though they may be, you’ll find they become more frequent and easier to experience. So it’s a worthwhile practice.
Would You Like More Positivity?
Glimmers aren’t a component of the positive thinking movement. They are legitimate moments of deep connection that each of us experiences.
Yoga and other mindfulness practices, as well as life coaching, are fantastic ways to deepen your ability to notice and experience glimmers.
So if you’re curious to find out how to bring more sparkle into your life, then contact us today. We offer in-person and virtual sessions for your company, organization, or school.