S1:E1 | The Vagus Nerve Bridge with Melanie WellerApr 05, 2022
[00:00:43.030] Welcome & Introduction
[00:01:25.300] Limbic system and pain
[00:02:11.350] Leveraging story for transformation
[00:02:30.190] Introducing the vagus nerve
[00:03:14.170] Mythological story of Isis and Osiris and its relationship to trauma
[00:05:30.740] Trauma & the vagus nerve
[00:07:41.930] Detailing the vagus nerve
[00:11:52.290] The math of our solar system
[00:13:19.050] The vagus nerve as the bridge between; as above, so below.
[00:16:26.920] Exercise: Decompressing your vagus nerve
You can contact Melanie or find out more about how she can help you by going to her website www.melanieweller.com
HOW DO YOU GO FROM STAGE FRIGHT TO SPOTLIGHT & BEYOND CHANGING THE WORLD & CREATING A LEGENDARY LEGACY?
How do you fine tune your body to fine tune your voice to convey what you're you might not understand, but your heart does?
Welcome to Episode One of Embody Your Star. I'm really excited to start this podcast and thank you so much for listening.
For those of you that have heard me interviewed on other podcasts, you know that the foundation of my practice as a physical therapist is in the vagus nerve. I work with the vagus nerve as the bridge between our stories and our bodies. As stress management expert, I'm very passionate about really getting to the spiritual and stress related underpinnings of our physical dysfunction.
Medically, we know that stress is 75 to 90 percent of all disease dysfunction, yet medicine and medical professionals are not trained in really helping people identify those roots and certainly not in ways that inspire and motivate change because chronic pain and I would contend that chronic conditions and chronic limiting beliefs of many kinds are locked into our limbic system.
The difference between acute subacute pain and chronic pain is that chronic pain gets locked into your limbic system, which is where your emotions are. You cannot logic yourself out of your limbic system. You need a story. You need an emotional key to get it out of there.
As humans, we connect more with story than we do with process. So you can really leverage story very strategically for transformation and for really deep and meaningful transformation that inspires radical change.
Vagus in Latin means wanderer, and the vagus nerve wanders all the way from your brainstem down to your pelvis. As the wanderer, it makes me think of the story of the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years and how 40 is the age of the proverbial midlife crisis. It certainly was about the age of my proverbial midlife crisis! Which I prefer to refer to as my spiritual awakening. But there were many parts of it that felt very much like a crisis in the midst of it. In our 40s, it's a very common story among men and women in their 40s to really come home to ourselves.
The other story that I really associate with the vagus nerve is the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris. This is the lens through which I tell my story, and through which I'm currently writing my book. In the Egyptian myth of ISIS & Osiris, Osiris was the king of Egypt and his brother Seth was angry and jealous and wanted to be king.
Seth tricked Osiris into laying down in a bejeweled coffin, had his soldiers nail the lid shut and carry him to the Nile River and send him downstream to his death. Osiris's wife, Isis, found out about this and she went and found his body, took him to a cave and breathed new life back into him.
When Seth found out about this, he was furious. He tracked down Osiris and chopped his body into pieces and scattered the pieces down the Nile River.
Again, Isis found out about this and she went and retrieved all of his pieces. She was able to find everything except for his phallus. She took him back to the cave, put him back together, made him a new phallus and brought him back to life long enough to conceive their divine child, Horace. Osiris went on to be king of the underworld, which for the Egyptians was where all life came from and all treasures were found.
When I imagine being in that story, everyone except for maybe Seth & his soldiers, probably thought that Osiris's destiny was to be the king of Egypt, but his true destiny was to be the king of the underworld. He literally had to come apart to come back together in a new way.
We use dismemberment metaphors in our language all the time. We say we're falling apart. We can't get it together. Our hearts are broken. Our lives are shattered. We give our left arm for something that we really desire. And so this sense of dismemberment is a very universal experience.
It's really the gift of trauma where trauma becomes our initiation instead of our victimization. I thought that my destiny was to be a highly credentialed physical therapist. At this point in my career, 25 plus years in, I feel much more aligned and empowered showing up as a highly credentialed high priestess. I had to fall apart to come back together in this new way.
In my early 40s, my body was falling apart. My marriage was undergoing a lot of stress. I had a professional lawsuit brought against me and I had all of these technical skills and a lot of intuitive skills- historically I have always thought that my intuition and my logic were the same thing. I didn't know how to put my scientific skills and my soft skills together in a way that was cohesive so I had to back off of my practice to figure that out.
Really, my midlife crisis forced me to optimize my vagus nerve and a whole new level and expand my understanding of it and how it is the bridge between our stories in our bodies and how it connects us above and below. It's our bridge to as above, so below, which is such a common maxim of different religions and belief systems.
I find that it's really the only rule we ever follow. When we look at alignment I think that's what we're really seeking, is that awareness and that connection, that's what's happening within us is expressing externally and what's happening externally is expressing within us. We all have a physical expression of our internal narrative and an internal expression of our physical narrative.
The vagus nerve does much more than I'm going to cover in my description:
- It is your tenth cranial nerve.
- It originates in your brainstem.
- It's outside of the spinal cord and it goes all the way down into the pelvis.
- It innervates your heart, and as it goes down towards your heart, it loops back up to innervate your vocal cords. So I like to think of it as the nerve that allows us to speak our hearts.
- It continues down and innervates the muscles of our digestive system.
- It mediates digestive enzymes secretion, bile secretion, you cannot absorb vitamin B 12 without your vagus nerve.
- In women, the vagus nerve innervates the cervix and research shows that women with complete spinal cord injuries can achieve orgasm with vagus nerve stimulation at the cervix.
Sexual arousal is a parasympathetic response and your vagus nerve is the largest component of your parasympathetic nervous system. We're all familiar with our vagus nerve when we've gone to do public speaking or something that makes us similarly nervous and we get a lump in our throats and our palms sweat our hearts race and our stomachs feel funny because those are all vagus nerve mediated functions. Our vagus nerve has been dialed down and our fight and flight system has been dialed up. That's why we experience those symptoms.
Vagus nerve, as I just said, mediates sweating. It mediates inflammation. It uses the same neurotransmitter that your muscles do. So as a physical therapist, a lot of my interest with it has been in that shared neurotransmitter acetylcholine, because you get these beautiful musculoskeletal responses to decompressing the vagus nerve.
We know that trauma always affects the voice and the breath and your vocal cords and your diaphragm are horizontally oriented in your body. So is your pelvic floor. The base of your skull is horizontal and you have other areas in the body where you have horizontal structures which, when not moving properly, will compress the vertical structures that go through them, including the vagus nerve.
I contextualize a lot of this around the vagus nerve, but really it's not just the vagus nerve that's getting compressed. It's everything that goes vertically through those horizontal structures; its arteries, veins, lymphatics, organs.
When our internal flow is limited, we don't have flow externally in our lives. This is very consistent with the Chinese medicine concept of Chi. This aligns on a cosmological scale, too. I haven't seen if it exists, that the research is there around the vagus nerve. But the images of the vagus nerve that I have look very much like it. You can imagine that there aren't as many branches of the nerve up at the brainstem as there are through the digestive system because it innervates your whole digestive system. So it's like there's more and more branches as it goes down your body.
We know that the coronary arteries branch in a fibonacci sequence. So a fibonacci sequence is where the two numbers below add up to the next number, so two plus three is five. So two, three, five, eight, 13, 21, 32, 55 - it goes on infinitely.
The images I have of the vagus nerve look like it also branches in that pattern.
That's also the math of our solar system. I find it really fascinating that one common vagus nerve compression point in all humans, the right side of the diaphragm, has more muscle mass than the left. So theoretically, the right side will always win. Yet when we are locked down to the right and compressed on the right side of our bodies, the earth below us in the solar system above us are spinning the opposite direction. So we are also out of alignment on this fractal scale.
In all of my anatomy books and in some real skulls that I've been able to see, the vagus nerve exits the base of the skull about twenty three and a half degrees from the center of where the spinal cord does. The Earth's tilt right now is at a twenty three and a half degree angle and it ranges from about twenty one point one to twenty four point five over thousands and thousands of years. That angular range fits inside the jugular foramen, which is where the vagus nerve exits the base of the skull, and there's other structures that exits with as well.
There's this whole system of what I call critical angles that go with it too, that are part of your cosmology. It's really this expression of of how we are the microcosm of the macrocosm.
So the vagus nerve is really this bridge between as above, so below. In future episodes, I'm going to go over different research papers and we'll talk about the relationship with the vagus nerve and story in more detail. For example, there's research that shows that when solar and space weather disrupts the electromagnetic field of the earth, it's measurable in our vagus nerves. So we're constantly syncing with the cosmos.
Going back to the vagus nerve is the bridge between our stories and our bodies, mythology was a mode of communicating scientific information and the myth of Isis and Osiris has the numbers of the Earth's processional cycle in it, it was a way they communicated the science and the ventricles in our brain that make cerebral spinal fluid look just like the rams horns in Aries that represent the Aries constellation in astrology.
The way our hyoid bone sits on top of our larynx looks just like the symbol for Taurus and our aortic arches of the same shape as a symbol for Leo and it works this way the whole way through the body.
So we can really use story very prescriptively. I've called my process story prescription to really identify what those spiritual and stress related underpinnings of the physical dysfunction are and to really get an emotional response to get that chronic situation out of your limbic system.
We even have intracellular structures that are the same shape as the constellations, adenosine triphosphate made by your mitochondria, which is the energy source we all use at the cellular level, is shaped very much like the Aries constellation.
The Vedas all tell the story of our anatomy, the biblical story of the Temple of the Ark of the Covenant describes our cranial anatomy in detail. So I'm going to go over these things in future episodes in more detail. We'll do deep dives into these aspects.
In between these deep dives, there will also be interviews. I have some best selling authors booked and some really exciting guests booked and can't wait to share those episodes when it's time to release them.
So as you think about the vagus nerve, is the connection between as above and so below, you can think about it like the Mycelium network that connects the roots of the trees and plants together and sends out warning signals and shunts nutrients. You can also think of it like the Laniakea supercluster of which our Milky Way galaxy is one little tiny dot.
I'm going to end this episode as I'm going to end each one of these solo episodes that I'm doing with an experience. If you're driving or operating any kind of machinery, including kitchen tools, stop what you're doing. You need to be in a nice still place to do these experiences.
One of my favorite vagus nerve exercises is to decompress the vagus nerve at the base of the skull. To do that, you take your thumb and forefinger and you're going to grab onto the tab at the front of your ear that if you didn't want to hear me, you would press down to cover over your ear hole.
It's called the Tragus of your ear. And if you grab each Tragus between your thumb and forefinger, you can very gently, with less than one pound of force, pull your right one to the right and your left, one to the left and hold it there for 45 to 60 seconds. I like to do this before I go to bed at night. Your vagus nerve comes out between your temporal bones, which are under your ears and your occipital bone, which is at the back of your head
A gentle, sustained stretch is ideal for at least 45 seconds to a minute, and if you want to up level this exercise a little bit, you can just hold on to one Tragus. If you just hold on to your left one and take your other hand and put it on the back of your head.
Then you can slide the bone on the back of your head super gently, one pound of force or less to the right while you're pulling the Tragus of your left ear to the left and then repeat on the other side, where you pull the Tragus of your right ear to the right and you gently slide your occipital bone to the left.
Thank you so much for listening and I look forward to sharing more episodes like this with you. For more information you can go to my website, www.melanieweller.com
There's lots more to discuss about The vagus nerve bridge! I'm looking forward to bringing more episodes of Embody Your Star to you.
See you next time.
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