So I'm about to get a bit scientific on you but I tend to find this stuff quite inspiring. Did you know that the vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body? It connects your brain to important organs throughout your body, including the gut (intestines & stomach) and heart and lungs. The word vagus means "wanderer" in latin and this is quite cool as it represents how the vagus nerve literally wanders all over the body.
The vagus nerve is a key part of your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest & digest system) - I like to call this your "All is Well" system. It influences your breathing, digestive function and heart rate, all of which have a huge impact on your physical & mental health.
When the vagus nerve is stimulated, through key activities, it becomes easier for your body to relax after stress and this is important to well-being. Well-being is not about never being under stress but rather our ability to recover well, after stress. The more you stimulate the vagal nerve, studies show, the more your physical and mental health will improve.
So here it comes...Meditation stimulates the vagus nerve.
“The vagal response reduces stress. It reduces our heart rate and blood pressure. It changes the function of certain parts of the brain, stimulates digestion, all those things that happen when we are relaxed.” — Dr. Mladen Golubic, MD, Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic
After years in the medical field and then years in the health & fitness field before transitioning to the work I do today with meditation, it makes so much common sense and also "scientific" sense that placing the body in "rest & recovery" mode/ parasympathetic mode is a key step in well-being. It likely the first step.
Shifting out of "stress mode" logically needs to come before putting something "external" into the body - even if that something is buckets of green organic smoothies and juices. I guess what I am saying is that chugging that green shake while you are in stress mode is not optimizing that green shake.
Placing the body in rest & recovery, or stimulating the vagus nerve which travels throughout the body, is a key first step in health & healing. Yet, what we tend to do in the world of health and well-being is we give stressed out people a prescription before we help them actively get into rest & recovery mode. We give these same stressed out folks, who have massive digestive issues, a list of "natural" supplements to take before helping them put themselves into recovery mode so their body can optimize these supplements.
When you calm the brain and mind and actively stimulate this lovely long nerve in your body you are actively placing yourself in health & healing mode. Doesn't this just makes so much sense when it comes to well-being?
I hope that some of these words inspire you when it comes to your own health and healing. We are all healing in some way or another. If you find that you are going through a significant healing journey then doing whatever you can to actively place yourself in rest & recovery mode - healing mode is so beneficial. If tomorrow I was diagnosed with something, I know I would be meditating like a ninja! I would be placing my mind and body in a healing state. This does not mean that meditation replaces the other things we do for our health, but it can be a vital element and a compliment to whatever healing journey is right for us.
See you on the seat...
Your Meditation Coach