During this particular cosmic cycle the Vagus Nerve is possibly one of the most important nerves in the human body. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in our nervous system. It is also called the pneumogastric nerve or “Wanderer” and is the 10th cranial nerve. More importantly it interfaces with the parasympathetic system and as such controls our relaxation response. The nerve is the only one that reaches from the root (colon) to the brain. It sounds very like the physical manifestation of the “kundalini serpent” that yogis and ancient texts refer to. It is possibly physical proof that the whole energetic/chakra system actually exists.
The vagus nerve is biologically proven to connect and carry energy to all of the main “chakra points” in our body, which feed our organs. It isn’t just any energy though it is intelligent energy. It tells our body what to do, what enzymes to make, how to breathe and so on. Without it we would die. It stands to reason then that this energy is vital, ie prana, chi or qi. This energy has been suppressed in the human parasympathetic system in favour of the much more dynamic yang (+ve charged or male energy) which is part of the sympathetic nervous system……until now!!
The sympathetic nervous system “gears you up” and is part of the fight or flight response system. On every level of creation however yin/yang must be in balance. The imbalance is very obvious in our world. Our creations are very out of balance with nature and negatively affecting the planet. Our collective creations and systems are just the outward reflection of the imbalance in each one of us.
Vagus Nerve and Breathing
The vagus nerve is responsible for keeping the larynx open for breathing and also feeds the lungs and diaphragm.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the vagus nerve. This “switches” the parasympathetic system on bringing balance back to the mental, emotional and physical bodies.
It is therefore crucial that we relearn how to breath properly. In my view it’s amazing that we spend thousands of pounds on devices to stimulate the vagus nerve via surgical implants and yet we can do it for free by meditating, using specific breathing techniques and doing yoga.
It is now of the utmost importance to stimulate the vagus nerve to help us relax and bring us back into balance. As a collective the way we are is reflected into the world. It is crucial that our over active sympathetic nervous system is brought back into balance with the parasympathetic system via the vagus nerve. Another way of putting this is our yang needs to be brought back into balance with our yin. As we do this we greatly reduce inflammation in the body and therefore disease and increase immune system functionality. It is surprisingly easy to stimulate the vagus nerve and I have listed some techniques below. First though lets look at some evidence of what stimulating the vagus nerve can do.
Vagal Tone and Body Systems
The higher our vagal tone the easier it is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore relax after stress. The vagal tone is measured by plotting heart rate alongside our breathing rate. The difference between our inhalation heart rate and exhalation heart rate is known as vagal tone. The higher the difference then the higher our vagal tone. Since the vagus nerve has a calming effect on systems that are fed by it, for example respiratory, digestive and nervous systems it makes sense that we should all be increasing our vagal tone.
We know when the vagus nerve is toned and functioning properly because we can feel it on different levels: Our digestion improves, our heart functions optimally, and our moods stabilize and we want to smile and laugh. We have an easier time moving from the more active and often stressful states of being to the more relaxed ones. As we get better at doing this, we are able to manage life’s challenges with the right blend of energy, engagement, and ease. We have a “high vagal tone” when we can consistently maintain this flexible state.
“Low vagal tone,” on the other hand equates to a sluggish digestion system, increased heart rate, unpredictable moods and a sense of depletion. Low vagal tone correlates with impaired recovery of cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems. Many different conditions and diseases such as depression, chronic pain, epilepsy and so on are therefore associated with low vagal tone. Positive effects on vagal tone have now been demonstrated by practices such as meditation, specific breathing techniques and yoga.
Ways To Activate The Vagus Nerve and Increase Vagal Tone
- Meditation – brings both hemispheres of the brain into coherence, that is they begin to communicate with each other. The left brain begins to integrate with the right. Brain frequency patterns move from Beta Waves to Theta, Delta and even into Gamma Waves. As this happens there is a healing effect on the body as all systems including the nervous system come back into balance;
- Breathing Techniques such as Nadi Sodhana or Sudarshan Kriya. If you have trouble meditating then do these first as breathing techniques are powerful methods to bring about brain coherence;
- Exercise in general but especially yoga. Yoga has the added bonus of bringing the body back into alignment. It very effectively and progressively breaks down our beliefs or energetic patterns held in the nervous/endocrine systems. Traditional exercise such as weight training, running and so on have limited effect in this regard. I personally feel that both types of exercise are necessary for completeness of being. However traditional exercises use more chi than they bring in to the body. It is important therefore to get a balance that is right for you. To do this we must allow our own human design to show us what is best. The way to do this is to move out of the mind and feel what and when is best. Over time this will change;
- Massage in general including self massage. Also certain massages have an increased stimulation effect on the vagus nerve such as the carotid sinus massage. To do this simply find the carotid pulse in the neck between the wind pipe and the thick band of muscle which is either side. Here there is a kind of v shaped recess. Once you have found the pulse move laterally (outwards) towards the thick band of muscle. Massage this muscle on both sides and feel yourself begin to relax. Do not massage your carotid artery;
- Any kind of acute cold such as a cold shower or cold water splashed on the face will activate the vagus nerve and therefore your parasympathetic nervous system;
- Regular fasting or reducing calories will increase vagal tone and therefore relaxation response. A decrease in metabolism is partly handled by the vagus nerve;
- Laughter stimulates the vagus nerve and also stimulating the vagal nerve can cause us to laugh more. Laughter really is the best medicine;
- Probiotics – There is now strong evidence from animal studies that microorganisms in the second brain or gut can activate the vagus nerve. Such activation plays a critical role in mediating effects on the brain and behaviour. Certain vagal signals from the gut can instigate an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effect. This depends on whether pathogenic or non-pathogenic organisms are detected. The overall balance of “good” microorganisms must be maintained if we are to have positive emotions, less stress and most importantly keep our inflammation levels down. Therefore diet is very important;
- Humming mantras and listening to upbeat music all stimulate the vagus nerve;
- Happy positive social relationships stimulate vagus nerve activity;
- Acupuncture and acupressure stimulate the vagus nerve, for example by stimulating various points around the ear. To do this squeeze all points around the ear from the top down to the ear lobes. Try it and feel the difference.
- As mentioned above any kind of acute cold exposure such as a cold shower stimulates the vagus nerve. As the body adjusts to the cold our sympathetic nervous system (the get up and go response) is progressively turned “down”.
The Vagus Nerve and Outward Reality
All in all we are definitely moving back into a more positive world. If you look outwardly at present it may appear chaotic. The outward chaos is just humanity waking up and realising that the world is a reflection of themselves. Focusing once again on our energetic system will automatically begin to re-balance it. As each person awakens they begin to find homeostasis in their own bodies.
A good way of doing this is by stimulating the vagus nerve using such techniques as already described. We can each release the negative patterns and perceptions that have kept our ancestral lineage in bondage via our genes. A new world is dawning but we can only see this new world as we take time to know ourselves and consciously direct our lives from the inside out. The more love we feel for self the more we move back into our power. An excellent way to begin is to STOP and take the time to stimulate our vagus nerve.