Very excited to learn of this promising research on injectables that regenerate hearing by restoring ear hairs!
Age-related-/genetically-, noise- and drug-induced hearing losses are all caused by dying/destroyed ear hairs. This is a potential fix as good as outpatient eye surgery, such as for cataracts or Lasik for myopia!
What, where and for what is our vagus nerve? In this post, I offer some personal experiences of noticing how meditation affects my own vagus nerve, and some others’ diagrams and info for having a more healthy vagus nerve and how having a strong, or “toned,” vagus nerve improves many aspects of one’s health.
First, what is the vagus nerve? It is often called “the X cranial nerve or the tenth cranial nerve” because it extends throughout the body into the cranium of our brains. The vagus is the longest nerve in a human’s nervous system, starting in our intestinal area and stretching all the way into our brains.
Where is it? Almost everywhere! It is not straight: the vagus goes curving, looping and touching many organs and parts of our body as it extends.
What does the vagus nerve “do”? We don’t even yet know all of its influences, but here are some functions we do know about, below.
How can we improve our vagus nerve’s usefulness? Many people have been studying this, and here are some tips, below.
“Vagal tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the vagus nerve. Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.
“In 2010, researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve, and vice versa.
How can we improve our vagus nerves “at home?” Here are 9 “Ways of Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Nourish Your Body and Mind”:
I. “Deep, slow, belly breathing is [one] way to stimulate your vagus nerve. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety and increase the parasympathetic system by activating the vagus nerve.
Breathe more slowly (aim for six breaths per minute).
Breathe more deeply, from the belly. Think about expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage as you inhale.
Exhale longer than you inhale.
I don’t do this nearly enough. It’s so much better than ordinary breathing, too. Try it!
II. “The vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat. Singing, humming, chanting and gargling can activate these muscles and stimulate your vagus nerve. And this has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and vagal tone. The vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response.
III. “Acute cold exposure has been shown to activate the vagus nerve and activate cholinergic neurons through vagus nerve pathways.
IV. “Gut bacteria improve brain function by affecting the vagus nerve. Omega-3 fatty acids increase vagal tone and vagal activity. Studies shown that they reduce heart rate and increase heart rate variability, which means they likely stimulate the vagus nerve. And, high fish consumption is also associated with ‘enhanced vagal activity and parasympathetic predominance.’
V. “Exercise also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, which may explain its beneficial brain and mental health effects.
VI. “Massages can stimulate the vagus nerve, and increase vagal activity and vagal tone.
VII. “Socializing and laughing can stimulate the vagus nerve, and increase vagal activity and vagal tone.”
VIII. Yoga poses with or without meditation practices in addition to those sessions are great for vagal toning.
IX. Intermittent fasting is a health benefit for many, but check with your health care provider if you are diabetic, have hypoglycemia, may be pregnant or have other conditions that make fasting something that must be carefully monitored. “Fasting and caloric restriction increase heart rate variability, which is an indicator that it increases parasympathetic activity and vagal tone.”
Prefer watching and listening to reading? Try this short video, in which Naomi Goodlet provides an exercise for vagus nerve health on YouTube, “A 12-Minute Breathing Practice to Activate Your Vagus Nerve”:
As a long-time (for almost 50 years) meditator, I can attest that stimulating the vagus nerve does occur during many types of meditation and is extremely pleasurable. Also, many other benefits occur from having good vagal tone, as indicated above and below in this post and via the links in this post.
“The vagus nerve and meditation are intertwined. What happens if you stimulate the vagus nerve? When stimulated, you feel calmer, more compassionate, and clearer. Stimulating the vagus benefits your autonomic nervous system and mental health.
“Healthy vagal tone means emotional regulation, greater connection, and better physical health as well.
“The vagus nerve stimulates certain muscles in the heart that help to slow heart rate.
“Research shows that meditation increases vagal tone and positive emotions, and promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself.
“Another study found that meditation reduces sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ activity and increases vagal modulation.”
“The first study found that stimulating the vagus nerve dramatically reduces the severity of depression.
“The second study found that mindfulness meditation also optimized functional connectivity of the default mode network which lowered inflammation and improved the brain’s ability to manage stress and anxiety.”
I actually feel my vagus nerve responding as soon as I am doing an advanced meditation practice (dzogchen, a Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana meditation technique) that I have been doing many times during and sometimes for hours daily since 1999. I mostly feel this response in the vicinity of my heart and solar plexus, as if a metaphoric flower were opening, like a warmth spreading inside my abdomen and chest. This vagus nerve stimulation is, for me, similar to the physical experiences of feelings of being happily but quietly excited, a first awareness of falling in love, and/or my noticing my being loved by or loving someone dear.
Do you ever sense your vagus nerve while engaging in any activities or practices? —Where in your body? —In what ways? —Exactly when/during what activities?
One of the many ironies of the #ageism of the #hiring managers/people deciding who gets what upper-level #nonprofit management positions in recent years is that they seem to think that we “elders” aren’t likely to last for “enough” years; then, they keep losing the younger ones they keep hiring, anyway.
Unfortunately for their organizations, it’s the younger and middle-aged ones who are more likely to jump ship for “better jobs,” or move with a spousal transfer, as evidenced by my having tracked the job market in my areas for the past twenty years (ages 47 – 67).
I have seen jobs I applied for, was interviewed for (by someone younger, almost always) and was rejected for go to someone younger (and far less capable), dozens of times. Then, still cruising the want ads, I see that same job posted again in about 2 – 3 years; sometimes, the new hire only lasted 6 – 12 months.
I’ve lived in St. Louis long enough, now, to see some jobs posted 3 or more times in 8 years. This represents an enormous waste of time, energy and money: all that went into the hiring process, then time for orientation, acclimation, training, needs to be done over, again and again.
Seems that the younger person just begins to be hitting their stride and then, they leave. Or, the hiring turns out not to have been “a good fit” for one or more of them. (Gee…Maybe age isn’t the best factor to assess candidates by?)
If any of these hiring folks had been smart and unbiased enough to have hired ME, I’d have been a jewel for them: —First, I’d have needed less training and less time to acclimate, bringing decades more experience, confidence and knowledge with me; —Second, I’d have been able to be more effective a lot sooner; —Third, and even better—especially financially, for them—I’d have still been working there [barring any fraud or malfeasance on their part (I’ve had to “be laid off” from several jobs for those reasons, back in California)]—7 to 10 or more years later. I probably would have outlasted them all.
Hiring managers, take note. We elders are worth hiring.
Currently, a huge number of experts and experienced workers are being ignored (not even called in for interviews) or not being hired merely for having birth dates that precede 1982, without regard for levels of expertise offered. We elders are told by “job coaches” to “remove dates” from our resumes to avoid this slush pile treatment.
Well, my C.V. is 6 pages long, listing my many types of training, education, degrees, and certificates, plus about a dozen publications and presentations, and dozens of positions, some of which overlap chronologically; kind of a giveaway, yes? Which ones should I leave out, I ask? These job coaches have no answers.
Millions more in our age groups are underutilized: we are forced into part-time “consultant” and “contract” jobs; or, worse, told we should “volunteer,” even though those jobs ALL deserve proper compensation and benefits (and, surprise! were usually done by women, when the positions were fully paid…) .
The above do not tap into our expertise sufficiently. These “positions” and situations are also insulting, wasting our knowledge and not respecting our contributions.
A lot of us choose to “retire” even though we’d rather be working, because these conditions are so demoralizing and such wasteful uses of our time. So much for our “golden years” as fruitful or rewarding.
I’m not even going into the shameful treatment seniors get at for-profit corporations: these kick elders to the curb without a second thought; not even a gold watch, any more. These owners and bosses exhibit NO loyalty or gratitude at ALL, for decades of service. Some of us get “escorted” to our cars by security as their only parting “gift,” as if WE are the threat.
Amusingly, they are so short-sighted that they fire us or lay us off without getting our replacements trained, first. So idiotic.
With so many upper-level jobs staying vacant or continually re-opening, one would imagine the hiring peeps would get a clue. Not so far.
Special PSA (Public Service Announcement) for all who have hiring authority: #hireseniors We stay and we deliver.