Discovering Glimmers

CPTSD Foundation
4 min readMar 29, 2024


As a complex trauma therapist and advocate, I dedicate time to researching and seeking innovative ideas and tools to enhance healing for my clients. I know that many well-meaning suggestions can get too complicated and time-consuming. I was attending one of Deb Dana’s trainings where she introduced the concept of glimmers. I immediately loved it and started sharing it with all of my clients. I have also been practicing it myself. I have gotten such good feedback and seen progress unfold, so I am excited to share this with you and the CPTSD community.

Polyvagal Theory developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, offers valuable insights in understanding our nervous system and how it impacts our well-being. Among its many concepts, “glimmers” stand out as powerful micro-moments (15 seconds or so) of connection and safety. The exploration of glimmers has truly captured my attention and yielded remarkable results within my therapy practice. Clients often express that these micro-moments feel authentic and acknowledge their experiences without dismissing or promoting toxic positivity. Glimmers represent those subtle, fleeting moments of positive experiences, resiliency, and regulation. They are the whispers of hope, the sparks of healing potential, and the building blocks of post-traumatic growth.

In this blog article, we will explore what glimmers are, provide real-life examples, and the importance of a daily practice of noticing glimmers.

Understanding Glimmers

Glimmers, as defined by Polyvagal Theory, refer to micro-moments of connection, safety, and positive engagement that can shift our nervous system’s response from defense to calm. These experiences activate the social engagement system, fostering feelings of safety, trust, and well-being. Glimmers can be both subtle and profound, and they play a pivotal role in our overall emotional and physical wellness. While glimmers are all around us, it isn’t always easy to notice them. This is a gentle reminder for everyone.

We experience more micro-moments of calm (or less activation) in our everyday life than we realize. That first sip of my morning coffee and the sound of the birds chirping outside are my glimmers and have landed so well in my nervous system. I love noticing the bright pink of a flower or sitting on my couch with my cozy green blanket. These are simple but not easy glimmers to notice.

Other examples can be:

  • A warm smile from a loved one or a moment of shared laughter can create a profound glimmer.
  • Being in the presence of our beloved pets, whose affection and companionship can be soothing and comforting.
  • A pleasant scent, such as fresh flowers or a favorite candle, can help create a calming and pleasant atmosphere.
  • Experiencing a sense of awe or wonder, such as witnessing a beautiful sunset or listening to a powerful piece of music.
  • Engaging in a favorite hobby or activity, such as playing a musical instrument, cooking a favorite meal, crafting, or going for a walk in nature.
  • Noticing supportive and empathetic conversations with trusted individuals. This can create a safe space where vulnerability is met with empathy and understanding. These moments of genuine connection can elicit glimmers of emotional safety and validation.
  • Experiencing or witnessing acts of kindness and compassion can evoke glimmers. These moments remind us of the goodness in humanity and elicit feelings of safety and connection.
  • It’s important to acknowledge that experiencing a decrease in activation or emotional intensity is equally valuable in addition to feelings of safety and connection. Both states are perfectly valid and significant in their own right.

Daily Practice of Noticing Glimmers

Creating the daily practice of noticing and incorporating glimmers has the potential to create significant shifts in our lives. When we intentionally seek and acknowledge these moments, it cultivates a mindset centered around connection, safety, and well-being. This practice gradually rewires our nervous system, leading to increased resilience, better emotional regulation, and improved social interactions. I have witnessed this transformation in many of my clients, family members, and friends.

Glimmers, the micro-moments of connection and safety, possess incredible transformative power. When we find the essence of glimmers and purposefully look for them in our everyday experiences, we can gradually reshape our nervous system’s reactions, nurture resilience, and foster a profound sense of well-being. Remarkably, glimmers are free and available to everyone.

I invite you to start being curious about glimmers and consider integrating the practice of noticing them into your daily life. One way to do this is by keeping a glimmer journal or scrapbook, where you can capture and reflect on these moments. Additionally, the CPTSD Foundation has established a Glimmers group in Circle, where you can connect with me and others, sharing experiences and inspiring one another on our transformative journeys.


Dana, D., & Porges, S. W. (2020). Polyvagal Exercises For Safety And Connection: 50 Client-Centered Practices. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

Porges, S.W. (2011) The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, Self-Regulation. Norton, New York.

Porges, S. W. (2017). The Pocket Guide To The Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power Of Feeling Safe. New York: W.W. Norton.

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