The Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system can be segmented into 2 distinct divisions: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The sympathetic nervous system triggers a “fight, flight, or freeze” response when a stressor or threat (either real or perceived) is detected. Once the stressor has lessened, the parasympathetic nervous system helps us calm down and re-enter a “rest and digest” state.
When you experience chronic stress, your sympathetic nervous system stays in overdrive and continues to produce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This can be devastating to the body long term, leading to major health concerns like chronic pain, anxiety, gut inflammation, and more.
The Vagus Nerve
The body has a reset button that can help decrease the “fight, flight or freeze” response. The vagus nerve, which is the longest nerve in your body, connects your brain to your body and allows bidirectional information flow. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system and influences your heart rate, respiration, and digestion.
Stimulating the vagus nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces the neuro-physical experience of stress: lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, stimulates digestion, and increases a sense of well-being. It also influences the limbic system in the brain, where emotions are processed.
Learning how to stimulate your vagus nerve allows you to shift from “fight, flight, or freeze” to “rest and digest” by creating a cooperative alignment between your heart, mind, and emotions. This state of alignment is called coherence, and it happens when your physical, mental and emotional systems are in sync, working more efficiently and harmoniously to optimize your physical and mental health. The HeartMath Training Series introduces 6 vagus nerve stimulation techniques over 3 sessions to teach you how to create and maintain this state of coherence.
Benefits of HeartMath
A few minutes of daily coherence practice has been shown to provide wide-ranging benefits for your health.