tone your vagus

The thighbone is connected to the hipbone…and our heart is connect to the head, and we are all one and… you get the picture. I read over the weekend about work being conducted by behavioural neuroscientists in the US that shows that our phone addiction is connected to our longevity,  and that

disconnecting from your iphone makes you live longer.

Image via
Image via

Essentially because our heart and our heads are connected. Biologically and figuratively (if you believe the two are different).

It works like this.

We have a vagus nerve that runs from our heart to our head. I’ve written on this incredible nerve here.

The better your “vagal tone” the better your health. That is, the more agility in the connection between your heart and head the better your cardiovascular, glucose and immune responses.

Vagal tone is improved by building that particular muscle – firing it up, using it as it’s meant to be used. Workin’ it. This translates, say the boffins, to smiling, connecting, engaging in face-to-face intimacy. Touching a real humanoid. Or at least having coffee with them. Simply using our facial muscles or adjusting to voice pitch can do the job.

We are like plastic. Or like a muscle. We have to use it or we lose it.

And so.

Our addiction to communicating via technology is making us sick. By rendering our vagal tone flabby.

An article in the New York Times on this subject picked it apart super well and pointed out that if loneliness can alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system (as science has shown) than parents glued to their phone around their kids are harming their kids, at a gene level.

“New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.”

We are what we do. We rewire ourselves when we do repeated activity. We need to choose, then, what we do over and over again. We need to choose who we are.

I don’t want to be defined by a knee-jerk need to be available and responsive. I want to be selective and active. I want to choose my life, not be led by gushing, pinging notifications. This weekend I turned off ALL mobile data on my phone for almost two days. I have to do dramatic things like this to break the addiction I have, to undo that gnarly muscle and retone my vagals.

It’s an interesting way to view things, hey. And that direct link between matters of the heart and addictions of the mind is so wonderfully illustrated by all this, don’t you reckon?




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