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What Happens in Vagus
Posted on March 12th, 2015

Last mid-October I kept seeing the letter X.  Day after day I would see it in the subway, on billboards and the words 'Vagal' and 'Vagus' kept coming to mind.  Why were these words sticking out and why was the letter X jumping out so prominently ?  

As the years have passed I've learned to listen to the voices and clues that I receive more and more.   I trust they are trying to tell me something.  This time they were directing me to look into the Vagus nerve.  

For those of you that don't know, the Vagus nerve is the 10th of 12 cranial nerves and is also known as nerve X.  Also known as the 'wandering' nerve, it starts from the top of the spinal cord all the way down through the pharynX, LarynX and thoraX.  That's a lot of X's, right ?  Biologically speaking the Vagus nerve is connected to processes in voice production, our digestive process, inflammation responses and regulates patterns between breathing and our heart rate.

The Vagus nerve, stemming from the medulla oblongata which regulates our autonomic nervous system is our interface with the world.  It is used in long distance readings and healings and is related to feelings of better social support and acts of altruism.  I was not surprised to read that it is considered the 'love nerve' or 'caretaking nerve'.  People with higher vagal profiles tend to have more compassion and when people are shown images of others suffering or hear inspiring stories, this nerve 'fires up.'  Those with higher vagal profiles also have increased positive emotions, are more resilient and are trusted in interactions with strangers.
  
So what might one do looking to improve and strengthen their own vagal profile ?  The two major things found are exercise and meditation.  If we can use these practices to help regulate the Vagus nerve (get more parasympathetic and receptive) we can help rejuvenate our bodies physiology and regulate our life !

Anatomically speaking this mind-body nerve runs through the smooth muscle of the diaphragm.  With deep, full inspirations we can really begin to stimulate, bring balance and harmony to our nervous system and simultaneously to our thoughts and emotions.  Intentional full breathing slows the heart rate, eases physical tension and it helps settle the digestive process. The only time our diaphragm fully relaxes is on the exhale of deep breathing as we are fully engaging this smooth muscle.  Remember if you don't use it, you lose it and your breath is the key to everything.  If you have shallow breathing, chances are you'll identify with feeling more nervous, anxious and disconnected in life.
 
When you begin to feel ungrounded, overwhelmed or emotional this may mean your head is not in the present moment and simply put it is too far ahead of the body (I.e. subtle energy is lighter and faster than more gross/physical matter.)  So to reconnect and anchor in the body we can stimulate the diaphragm through vigorous exercise which inadvertently strengthens our parasympathetic nervous system.  Or we can pause,  focus and take deep breaths in through the nose then exhale slowly through the mouth (as if blowing through a straw.)  Go ahead and close your eyes.  On a day-to-day basis we might feel stress, have moments of discomfort or uncomfortableness in certain situations.  This breathing will help recalibrate our system.  This simple focus on breathing will bring more internal harmony on a subtle level and in time manifest in physical well being and longevity.

When we are short of breath, mind racing in a sympathetic state we simply cannot relate to others as easily nor can we see value in why it would be of benefit to us.  At those times we are only concerned with ourselves and on a basic level, for our own safety.  Me. Me. Me.  We stay busy forgetting that we are here because of others and on a deep level crave to share ourselves and be acknowledged by others.  We have the most luxuries and comfort we've ever had as a human race and are not in immediate danger.  However, we keep re-creating these feelings and this insanity then are somehow expecting different results of success, happiness and peace without making internal connections to our experiences.  

When we are calm and relaxed we are naturally more receptive and open.  We have a choice to bring presence and fully listen to ourselves and to others.  Each of us desires to be heard and recognized, so why not start now and continue with each breath.  With focused slow breaths, exercise and even visualization of this miraculous wandering nerve inside, we can attune to our own mind-body connection.  As research has shown we can feel an increase of positive emotions and vitality.  We can make empowered conscious choices moment by moment while fully connected to the body.  Chances are you'll feel more grounded, focused and loving towards yourself, your loved ones and world around you.  Remember what happens in Vagus doesn't have to stay in Vagus.  Spread that LOVE.

Taking slow 
delicious breaths now
(Lalitha Shekinah)
-Natalie


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Vagus Nerve, Cranial Nerves, Meditation, Exercise, Nerve X


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