The Vagus Nerve CircuitApr 15, 2022
The vagus nerve completes a communication network between the heart, lungs, brain, and the gut. We often think of our brain as the driver but it really acts more like a processor in this multisystem network.
The vagus nerve is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves, regulating many vital aspects of our biology and has a powerful effect on our nervous system and our resilience to stress, trauma, toxins, and infections.
We now know that nerve cells in the heart and nerve cells that line the gut directly communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve. It's not just hormones, neurotransmitters, pressure waves and feedback loops, this is DIRECT communication.
This direct communication is needed because this system is far more than a circuit of vital organs. It is a network that senses our place in the world around us, assessing signals of safety or danger.
We hear all about the vagus nerve and vagal tone but I want to paint a bigger picture for us. A picture that illustrates how we are truly an extension of the greater ecosystem we live in and we must tend to both for true health to return.
The Vagus Nerve and Safety
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve and has a regulatory effect on our nervous system, organs, and glands throughout the body. When we are chronically over-stressed or have experienced trauma, we can get stuck in trauma response patterns, creating a LOW vagal tone.
Low vagal tone is associated with anxiety, depression, chronic disease, poor gut health, and autoimmunity. WHY? Because the vagus nerve is essential for the communication of information within our body. Each site within the gut-brain-lung-heart axis receives information from the world around us which then travels through the vagus nerve circuit. This makes the vagus nerve central to our healing from disease, chronic stress, trauma, and epigenetic trauma patterns.
Our vagus nerve circuit connects the heart, brain, lungs, and gut relaying messages of safety or danger from within our internal terrain to the terrain of the ecosystem around us. Most of us do not live in a safe world. For many, especially BIPOC, LBGTQIA+, disabled, or financially disadvantaged folk, the world we live in is not safe.
It's often dangerous and continually perpetuates the rewiring of the vagus nerve circuit.
We have walked steadily away from the things that make us whole. A life without laughter, safe community, dance, and storytelling leads to disease. A life without nature creates a lifetime of danger signals.
Supporting vagal tone requires us to acknowledge the quantum nature of our biology. Supporting the vagus nerve is about building the resilience to live in an unsafe world and the strength to do what we can to change it. It's about solidifying the connections we have to ourselves, to each other and to the world around us.
The Vagus Nerve and Our Perspective
The vagus nerve is not a muscle to be toned, it's a network to be maintained.
This network between our gut, brain, heart, and lungs is primed by our relationship with the world around us.
So often we think we must grind, push and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to make change. This is a perspective that warps so much of our reality.
We forget that we are a beautiful piece in an intricate puzzle that compromises our ecosystem. Our power lies in connection with this ecosystem- not to extract or take power from but because we feed each other in a foundational way, a dynamic flow of information dancing between it all.
Supporting our vagus nerve doesn't look like training. It looks realigning,
like a piece of the puzzle that is just slightly misaligned - a source of constant friction in our lives. When that puzzle piece is aligned, when it fits in the bigger picture again,
it reestablishes that flow, that ease, that alignment that our vagus nerve needs to function.
Our biology pairs with the biology of this planet. Our quantum nature dictates that
each frequency, each thought, and each electromagnetic field emits a vibration that informs our DNA. Just like the giant Sequoia trees pull water to their branches using the power of quantum biology, our vagus nerve relays information throughout our biology using our quantum biology.