In the brain, it controls anxiety and depression. Moving down, it impacts the eyes and regulates tear production, then the ears and the tongue, moderating issues like tinnitus and saliva production. Further down, it directly influences the heart and blood pressure. In fact, Vagus nerve stimulation can reduce high blood pressure and mitigate heart problems. As it moves into your abdomen, it wraps around the solar plexus area, placing it directly in the Heart Hara point. Here, it begins influencing your abdominal organs, increasing kidney function, helping with glucose control, digestion, and even urinary issues. Frequent urination is often a sign of low vagal tone. The vagus nerve also helps you absorb vitamin B12 and assists with dopamine production. The vagal nerve innervates the lungs, diapghragm and stomach so gentle and deep breathing stimulates the nerve as well. Breath work has been shown in dozens of research studies to calm the central nervous system and help with PTSD. Vagal nerve response to relaxed breathing is the reason why.
If you are having problems with fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, digestive issues, blood-sugar issues, heart problems, or urinary problems, you may be dealing with low vagal tone. The best course of action is, of course, vagal nerve stimulation to strengthen vagal tone. By strengthening vagal tone you also strengthen the meridians and organ function in the body according to Japanese & Chinese Medicine.
There are many ways to do this in Chinese, Japanese and Ayurvedic Practices. Yoga, deep breathing, exposing yourself to alternating cold and hot water, salt baths, and even laughter. The Chinese developed a sound technique - Qi Gong’s Six Healing Sounds which is based on Five Element Theory - to strengthen the meridians of the body. This meridian system correlates to "governing functions" of the organs that are all attached to your vagus nerve. Chinese Masters knew that by stimulating the voice box (where the vagus nerve innervates), you could bring energy to all the organs functions. Because the vagus nerve is attached to your vocal chords, humming or making these six healing sounds stimulates it. Vocalization affects organ function because the vagal nerve directly touches the organs themselves with its nerve branches sending signals from the voice bos to the other other organs.
There are specific sounds, body positions and emotional intonations that stimulate your vagal nerve and the correlating organ function according to ancient Chinese Practices. They are called the Six Healing Sounds. In order to do this practice, first get grounded into your abdomen or Hara ("Sea of Marrow"). You can do a 5-10 minute practice or longer depending on your time constraints. Doing something is always better than nothing. For a 5-10 minute practice, vocalize each sound in the order given and repeat each sound 5-6 times before moving on to the next sound. Complete each sound until all are finished. The first five sounds should be aloud or vocalized. The final and sixth sound should be subvocal. Subvocalization is reached when you silently work with the sound by engaging the voice box but without actually making a sound. Breathe slowly and gently into your belly for compounded stimulation to engage the Central Nervous System. To practice in a more traditional way the sounds are repeated 21 times or until the organ system emotionally balances, you direct qi movement in a specific way throughout the body with the breath and you intone the sound and emotions that correlate to each organ function. This will be covered in part 2 of this blog which will be coming soon. If you have the time to do it traditionally with the emotional component and longer breath added, this is highly effective and can start your day out in an incredible way. If done properly, you should be able to feel the organs vibrate slightly as if receiving a small internal massage.
- Lie down on your right side, place your palm under your left ribs, pucker your lips as if you are beginning to whistle or blow a kiss and make the SHHOOOO (shoe) sound as you breathe out. Breathe in peace and breathe out anger. This strengthens liver/gall bladder governing functions.
- Press both palms down between the breasts on the sternum, open your mouth wide, but keep it relaxed and make the HAAWWWWW sound as you breathe out. This sound is deep in the throat as if you are clearing it. Breathe in joy. This strengthens the heart governing functions.
- Lie down on your left side, place your palm under your right ribs, pucker your lips in a deeper whistle or stronger kiss and make the WHOOOOO (like an owl) sound as you breathe out. Breathe in ease of life and breathe out pensiveness. This strengthens the spleen and stomach governing functions.
- Place the hands on both sides of the upper chest spreading your chest apart very gently, keeping your tongue flat on the bottom of your mouth with your tongue touching the backs of the teeth, extend the lower jaw out in a relaxed manner, create a buzzing sound deep in the chest as you breathe out TZZZZZ (as in Tzar without the r sound). Breathe out grief. This strengthens the lung governing functions.
- Place the palms at the back over the kidneys which are located at the bottom of the ribs on both sides on the lower ribs and waistline area, as if sneezing forcefully, make the sound CH'WAAAYYY as you breathe out. You should feel your lower back muscles tighten. Breathe out fear. This strengthens the kidney governing functions.
- For the Final Healing Sound. Lie on your back, shake, vibrate and wriggle your torso comfortably as you make the subvocal sound of SHEEEEEEE making sure that you engage the voice box. The HEEEE should be stronger than the beginning S in the sound. Subvocalization will feel like you are making the sound in your throat, but not a sound should come out. Breathe out imbalance and breathe in balance and playfllness. This strengthens the triple heater governing functions which regulates temperature and homeostasis.
Try to make time each day for this practice. As with anything, consistency produces the best results. By practicing these breathing sounds each day, you will stimulate your vagus nerve and train your body to be calm and balanced, allowing it to remain in the healthy state it was created to be.
Until next time...
Kim M. Green, Founder
Kim is the Founder and Senior Instructor at Advanced Therapy Institute of Touch. She teaches laypeople and professionals alike advanced bodywork techniques which utilize Integrative Meridian Therapy, Hara Assessment, Somatic Trauma Release therapies, Japanese/Chinese Practices and rehabilitative forms of bodywork. She loves teaching practitioners to assist their clients in releasing long-held chronic injury, traumas or somato-emotional patterns that reduce a persons ability to enjoy their lives fully. At ATIT, we believe "All Things Are Possible!" Check out our School Tour.