I Now Suspect the Vagus Nerve Is the Key to Well-being
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I liked this idea that we have something like a secret piano key, under our skin, to press internally to calm us down. Or like a musical string to pluck. ~ Edith Zimmerman
Me too, Edith. Me too.
It’s hard to think clearly…to sort out the millions of bits of data that enter our world at any given moment and the idea that there might be a fairly simple way to manage all of it and return to center/return to sender is very attractive to me. I’ve understood the value of the mind-body connection and finding ways of managing stress. I have found lowering my rate of breath is the single most powerful contributor in my ability to do so.
The simple act of slowing my breath has allowed me space to respond in difficult conversations with more ease (or choose to walk away). It has allowed me to stop the mental chatter of nonsense (absolute nonsense) that sometimes takes up space in my brain. And it’s allowed me to find more peace in my heart.
The following article was posted first on The Cut. You can read the full post by clicking on the link below.
Have you ever read something a million times only to one day, for no apparent reason, think “Wait, what is that?” This happened to me the other day for “the vagus nerve.”
I kept coming across it in relation to deep breathing and mental calmness: “Breathing deeply,” Katie Brindle writes in her new book Yang Sheng: The Art of Chinese Self-Healing, “immediately relaxes the body because it stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the neck to the abdomen and is in charge of turning off the ‘fight or flight’ reflex.” Also: “Stimulating the vagus nerve,” per a recent Harvard Health blog post, “activates your relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.” And: Deep breathing “turns on the vagus nerve enough that it acts as a brake on the stress response,” as an integrative medicine researcher told the Cut last year.