What is the Vagus Nerve? Vagus here means wandering. It wanders all over our body, starting at the brain, then connecting to the heart, lungs and finally ending at the gut. The beauty of this system is that it connects all these organs and makes the organs communicate with each other. So if the gut is stressed it passes it on to the heart and brain.
Ideally, we want all these organs communicating with each other in a peaceful and non-stressed manner. This is called coherence. The best way to measure coherence is through a process called heart rate variability. The technology is still relatively new. But will soon be available on our smartphones.
The reason the vagus nerve is so important is that it is emotionally sensitive. What we are feeling gets transferred to the vagus nerve. And in return to the rest of the organs. Which means that when we are stressed the vagus nerve behaves differently from when we are happy or joyful. When the vagus nerve is in the joyful state, we enter the parasympathetic system. Also known as the rest and digest system. Its when our body heals grows and chills.
Now, if you notice most of the organs work by themselves, we have no control over them, like the heart, gut, brain. The only organs we do have control over are the lungs and the respiratory system. So one way we can begin to control or message consciously on the vagus nerve is through our breath.
Today I will guide you through a very simple breathing exercise. It is called a box breath. It consists of 4 steps for 4 seconds each.
Step 1: breathe in for 4 seconds
Step 2: Hold the breath in for 4 seconds
Step 3: breathe out for 4 seconds
Step 4: Hold the breath out for 4 seconds
It’s that simple. The important thing here is to breath into the belly. Which means as you breathe in the belly moves out and expands. As we breathe out the belly goes in and contracts.
So let’s begin. We will do this for just 2 minutes.
I would suggest you save this podcast and follow this technique everytime you are stressed or every morning.
Since this is not a meditation you don’t need to be in a quiet and peaceful environment. You can do this on your morning commute to work.
Let’s start, put a small smile on your face, remember to breathe in through the nose and fill up the belly.
How did that feel? Are you feeling relaxed and calm. In control of your emotions?
In fact this breathing technique is what the Navy seals or special forces use every time they are in a gun fight to remain calm, when there are enemies shooting at them. This keeps them calm and responsive. They can focus at the task at hand without panicking.
So, Practice this when you feel under fire as well. Tap into this wonderful Vagus nerve.