Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 4

 The Vagus Nerve Part 4: by Wendy Hayden

Music is very stimulating to the vagus nerve and can help switch us into a parasympathetic state. Chanting can help to stimulate the vagus nerve and bring balance to the body. During chanting, the vocal muscles contract and relax in a rhythmic pattern, which helps to promote relaxation and a sense of peace. The practice of chanting is a great way to relax and stimulate the vagus nerve because it is done in a deeply meditative state, with focused attention on the words and sounds being uttered. Chanting can help you reach a state of heightened awareness, allowing you to become more connected to your inner self. To begin your chanting session, take a few moments to settle into a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Take a few moments to allow your body to relax and your mind to clear. As you inhale, feel your lungs expanding, and as you exhale, feel your entire body relaxing. Chant any words, sounds, or phrases that resonate with you. Feel free to make up your own words or use traditional chants. For example, you could chant “Om” or “Ahh” in a low, deep voice. Continue to chant OM, or your preferred sound, for several minutes, allowing the sound to penetrate your entire being. As you chant, feel the sound activating the vagus nerve and allowing it to release any tension. Feel the effects of your chanting as you relax even further. Brain health and gut health impact one another, and the vagus nerve is precisely the connection between the two. The vagal tone index can be considered as the body’s gut feeling that gets conveyed directly to the brain and produces a feedback loop of more positivity or more negativity. Stress levels are at historic highs and that can cause us to get stuck in fight or flight. Our nervous systems are getting stuck in sympathetic mode, indicating that the changes that take place in our body/mind during fight or flight are not being resolved after the event happens. Consequently, those changes, to varying degrees, stay with us for long periods. This results in chronic stress, which leads to a host of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. When the vagus nerve gets stimulated through meditation, it affects the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to come out of fight or flight, decreasing stress. Mindfulness is the fundamental human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. You can follow mindfulness by sitting down for a formal meditation practice, or by being more deliberate and aware of the things you do each day. Nearly every task we do in a day, for example brushing our teeth, eating lunch, talking with friends, or exercising, can be done more mindfully.