Wake Up Your Vagus Nerve and Heal Your Body
Don’t Starve the Wanderer
The vagus nerve…have you heard of it? It is an amazing nerve, also known as “The Wanderer,” that connects our brain to our body. The nerve starts in the medulla oblongata (the portion of the brainstem that controls automatic functions such as breathing, digestion and heart rate), branches up into the brain and goes through the jaw following the digestive tract, branching off at the lungs and heart and continuing down through to the esophagus, stomach, liver, kidneys and intestines.
“The Wanderer” loves food/energy and so it follows the entire digestive system while also receiving some of its nutrients from the different portions of the brain, the heart and the lungs in the form of what is called Prana (pure energy). The vagus nerve is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our relaxation responses. This nerve can become underdeveloped/deactivated if the body’s in a constant state of fight-or-flight due to the stress and anxiety that comes with living in today’s society. This keeps the sympathetic nervous system in survival overdrive: your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, your heart rate increases and digestion becomes impaired.
In this particular case, “The Wanderer” is being starved of the essential nutrients it needs to help you survive. This can result in a whole host of chronic illnesses and impairments such as chronic fatigue, headaches, bruxism, breathing disorders (asthma), heartburn, I.B.S., chronic diarrhea or constipation; however, anyone can reactivate their vagus nerve with simple breathing techniques, meditation and yoga. These practices can signal your relaxation response and relieve stress in the area that is causing discomfort–resulting in a significant decrease in symptoms.
Another amazing fact about the vagus nerve is its connection to the seven chakras; these ganglions of nerves branch out to all of the seven centers of your body. It is my belief that this is the physical proof that chakras actually exist. You may have heard chakras being described more like Prana or Chi (which again, means “pure energy”) that store and circulate. That is the non-material energy of these physical centers.
Chakras have been described as spiral vortexes that are associated with different colors. These “vortexes” are in control of the different strengths and weaknesses which exist within your body, mind and soul. Meditating and breathing into these energy centers awakens the kundalini snake (another name for the vagus nerve), and will energize and heal your whole body.
Instead of starving “The Wanderer,” feed it with sattvic (pure) foods, deep conscious breathing, meditation and yoga in order to feed it the purest Prana possible.
Steven Halpern's Journey Pioneering New Age Music for Healing
Halpern is a GRAMMY® nominated composer, recording artist, and researcher. He is also a founding father of New Age music and a pioneering sound healer. In a rare and inspiring interview, “Stephen Halpern: Healing the World Through Music,” the accomplished musician moves beyond the superficial aspects of music as entertainment and explores how it has the potential to move and transform us at a very deep level.
Halpern likens his music to “a tuning fork for the brain” that balances the listener’s biofield and tunes their chakras. The result is a reduction of stress, a boosted immune system, and a shift into mindfulness and inner tranquility.
Within moments of immersing yourself in this otherworldly music, the breath slows “as the music automatically evokes your natural relaxation response and nurtures body, mind, and spirit.” Adding to the basic melody line, Halpern has also infused his music with crystal bowls, bamboo and silver flute, cello, brainwave entrainment, and subliminal affirmations, all for the sake of transcendence.
Halpern’s fascination with music began in childhood with an abiding interest in sounds—the wind blowing through the trees, the steam radiator clicking out its own rhythms, and so forth. One of his first memories was when he first heard music coming from a neighbor’s apartment. He was so taken with the sound that he awoke to his life’s calling. From the earliest age, Halpern recognized the power of sound, both to disrupt health and to uplift it; some sounds made him feel wonderful while others negatively affected his digestion or state of mind.
Halpern’s next major realization occurred when he left home to attend the University of Buffalo. At that time, as a freshman, he was invited by the faculty and grad students to join a jazz jam session. He picked up his trumpet, began to play, and soon became so lost in the music he noticed his trumpet seemed to be playing itself. “I had tapped into another level of energy,” he said. Like other artists down through history, deeply moved by waves of music, he simply found himself in a state of flow. This opened a whole new world for him.
Eventually, with an education and experience working in music, Halpern became an accomplished trumpeter. As a 22-year-old grad student, he was invited to audition for a sister organization of Esalen, an institution and retreat that focuses on humanistic alternative education. With a little reprieve before his appointment, Halpern went into the nearby mountains and sat in a grove of redwoods.