The word Vagus is Latin for “wandering” and the vagus nerve connects the brain stem to the body. It is in effect wandering from the base of the skull all the way down the body to the gut.
As it makes it’s journey through the body it is constantly monitoring and receiving information about how the body is functioning and it relays this information back to the brain. In turn the brain is also communicating it’s own information to the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve connects with virtually every organ in the body starting with the pharynx (throat) and ending at the small intestine?. It is connecting the neck, the heart, the lungs and gut and continually sending important information back to the brain about how the various organs are operating. When the (ventral) vagus nerve is operating optimally it will help lower the heart rate and blood pressure, encourage deeper breathing, relaxation, and decreases inflammation.
Although the singular term vagus nerve is generally used there is also the dorsal vagus If danger appears the dorsal vagus, which runs alongside the ventral vagus will fire, putting the system either in “fight or flight” or, if the danger appears too much to run from the “freeze state” We all know what a “rabbit in the headlights” looks like.
Ideally we want to optimally tone (or tune) our ventral vagus system so we can healthily connect with events in our everyday life. We do not want to be permanently stuck in stress and “fight or flight” 24 hours a day.
When connected to the ventral vagus response significant and valuable changes occur in our lives. These changes help us control our response to stress and our feelings of confidence and safety in the outside world. This gives us the ability to communicate with ourselves and others in a much more relaxed way changing so many things in life for the better.
It’s amazing that it often takes only a few simple changes to set in motion a process that can powerfully change your future life experiences for ever.
When working with clients, in virtually all cases the first thing I write on their take home notes is “Am I Safe?”. This is the question the primal brain is asking us all the time. “Am I safe in the jungle? But we are not in the jungle now (at least not that one!)
My hypnotherapy work is predicated on addressing the issues that have put the body and mind out of synch and disconnected. This means laying a foundation where lasting change can grow and knowledge about the workings of the vagus nerve helps answer many of the questions that come to the surface during therapy.
So as we begin to let the Dorsal Vagus relax (it will always look after us if needed) and turn our attention to toning and relaxing the Ventral Vagus we give ourselves the opportunity to move ever closer to the feeling “I Am Safe”.
Which is where we all want to be.