A Nervous System Hack - How I Became Emotionally Relaxed

 

I remember growing up and feeling envious of the people that seemed to have it all together emotionally. I felt so much inside {the good and the bad} - and I didn't really know what to do with it!

I'd melt into the comfort of home after school everyday, lie on the wood floor in the kitchen and break down crying to my parents. No matter what was happening on the outside, the truth was that I had something to figure out on the inside.

Why do I feel all this? What am I supposed to do with it? and the worst...What's wrong with me?

When I started meditating at age 18 - it all changed. Within the first year I noticed becoming less tumultuous and calmer. I finally had a place within me to go and something to do about the thoughts and emotions. 

For a long time I didn't care what lie behind this apparent boost. I just cared that it worked, and helped. I was finally feeling that there was nothing wrong with me. Emotions are part of what we get - and they're a gift.

Later, through my yoga training I learned of one possible explanation. 

 

 The longest of all the cranial nerves. Named Vagus because it wanders like a vagabond from your brain stem around the sides of your neck, it comes together again at the center of the throat and then branches - acting like a central switchboard for every organ in the body.   

The longest of all the cranial nerves. Named Vagus because it wanders like a vagabond from your brain stem around the sides of your neck, it comes together again at the center of the throat and then branches - acting like a central switchboard for every organ in the body.

 

The Vagabond Nerve

The psychological benefits of meditation, breathing, and yoga may be linked to the functioning of the vagus nerve.

It's part of the autonomic nervous system - which controls breathing, circulation and digestion. It plays a key role in promoting calm and soothing states by managing the parasympathetic nervous system {feed-and-breed and rest-and-digest}.

Intriguingly it's also directly linked to social competence and beneficial emotional regulation.

 

Raising the Tone and Emotional Agility

Vagal tone is the amount of influence the wandering nerve has on the heart. Research shows that strong vagal tone promotes emotion regulation, social competence, and prosocial behavior, and dampens hostility, depression and anxiety, and chronic inflammatory disease.

It regulates our caring behavior and leads us to feel calm, relaxed and safe in relation to others. The cool thing is that it goes both ways - feeling calm, relaxed and sociable also stimulates the vagus nerve {Door 1: body, Door 2: mind}.

A 2010 study, “How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health" was published in Psychological Science. It shows that we can start off a positive upward spiral of well-being either by affecting the states of the body or the states of the mind.

Amazing, right? So, if you're one of those people that like to know why something works {we need you in this world} this is WHY it works - the proof.

 

Becoming Emotionally Calm

With time and practice, I began to feel something great at work - helping me grow into who I'm meant to be, and even protecting me. 

A Hack: A quick and easy thing I've used as a yogi to engage my vagus nerve when faced with a serious stressor is to take a few deep breaths and on each exhale - I make a low, quiet humming sound. I do this all the time - while driving in traffic, even during/after a threatening situation, when I need to come back down.

When I noticed myself using this strategy {successfully} - That is when I knew I could face my fears, let go of my need to control, and trust in the process.

The meditation process continues to change me - for the better in ways I never would have thought of.

I still get to feel all the feelings, but I have a superpower now and I can take what comes and move through it with more ease and mastery. 

Are you feeling the call to meditate more consistently?

I'm there for you on Aura - it's totally free.

Find me on Mindful Moments channel.

With Love,

Lauren

Lauren Ziegler