We had a guest speaker from the Niroga Institute to present information on mindfulness. This was to support our students’ work on their community action project Wellness is for Everyone, to help address the high level of stress and anxiety that they and their peers were experiencing, thus affecting their human rights to an education and health. Our speaker explained that humming was particularly helpful in positively activating the vagus nerve. This led to all of us learning about what the vagus nerve is and how important it is to our mental and physical health. This Psychology Today article explains more.
Another important, related fact is that the vagus nerve is a major part of the Enteric Nervous System which surrounds our gastrointestinal system. This nervous system is referred to as our second brain. What seems most important to know from this, for our health and well-being, is that so much of what we experience emotionally is connecting physically with key bodily functions, as shown in this illustration.
With this knowledge of what impacts our emotional and physical health, we can take on our daily personal and worldly challenges with greater resilience. To that end, a book I highly recommend is My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. Here is a link to a Psychology Today interview with Mr. Menakem about the book.
Mr. Menakem provides highly insightful historical, psychological and sociological information that offers essential perspective on the layers of trauma that have led to our struggles today. He also provides guidance on how to gain more personal consciousness about our fears and anxieties, and then begin to heal ourselves and others around us. An entire chapter of the book is devoted to understanding the function of the vagus nerve, which he refers to as the soul nerve. The following are key points Mr. Menakem makes about our soul nerve: