How to stimulate your vagus nerve with meditation

Stress relief, because too much stress can be bad for your health. Two effective remedies for stress are meditation and activating your vagus nerve. You can find out exactly how this works with us:

In this article you will learn:

  • How can I avoid stress?
  • What is the vagus nerve?
  • What is the relationship between the vagus nerve and stress?
  • How can I activate the vagus nerve while meditating?

What are the consequences of stress on the body?

Higher, faster, louder – relaxation is a big topic for many, because we encounter stress in various forms in everyday life. It should stress above all a noticeable pressure or tension that occurs in certain situations. Sometimes it can also be positive, for example when it increases your performance, but stress is mostly noticeable in a negative way. From the claim to be constantly available to the turmoil between professional and private life, there are so many areas of life that can put you under pressure.

The much-vaunted work-life balance is more of a unicorn that each of us seems to be chasing. It can have serious consequences if the stress gets out of hand and becomes a permanent condition . The possible consequences include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle tension
  • Back pain
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Burn-out
  • Depression

It is therefore advisable to look into avoiding stress. You can get information in our article How to avoid stress and learn to deal with it . One way to reduce stress is to activate the vagus nerve . If you now shrug your shoulders a bit perplexed, because the term means nothing to you, we will first explain what is behind it.

What is the vagus nerve and what does it have to do with stress?

The nerves can you as an information highway imagine that connects the brain and other body parts and organs. The vagus nerve is one of the so-called cranial nerves . We humans have a total of twelve of these, the vagus nerve being the tenth. It is part of the so-called parasympathetic nervous system , a channel in the autonomic nervous system of our body.

This nervous system is responsible for processes in the body that we cannot consciously or at most indirectly control. This includes, for example, our metabolism or digestion . The vagus nerve also ensures that we have butterflies in our stomachs when we are in love, or when negative emotions put a strain on our intestines.


The vagus nerve is also the largest nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system . It begins in the nerve core of the brain and extends from here into the abdomen, where it runs along the digestive system. Because of this wide spread, the nerve was named after the Latin word vagari , which means to wander around . Its official name is the vagus nerve , colloquially it is better known as the vagus nerve . So you could also call it the wandering nerve .

The parasympathetic nerve is also known under another term, namely the nerve of rest and relaxation . In addition to this, there is the sympathetic nerve, which is also known as the stress and performance nerve. As the largest component in the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve has a special position when it comes to relaxation . The vagus nerve is therefore also called the resting nerve or the recovery nerve .

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Of course, the vagus nerve itself only transmits the stimuli from the brain , but you can still use the properties of the cranial nerve for yourself. Because when you act on the vagus nerve, you act simultaneously on the vagus nucleus in the brain and that in turn triggers positive stimuli . This activation of the vagus nerve is called vagus tone or vagal tone .

All of this may sound absurd at first, but there are already numerous medical studies that deal with the effects of the vagus nerve. Thus, the possibilities of the vagus nerve in the treatment of epilepsy patients were examined. In addition, it explores the vagus nerve stimulation on body weight . Another important topic is the positive influence of the vagus nerve on depression .
You can read the exact results in our article on the connection between vagus nerve and depression.

You see, you can influence many physical processes via the vagus nerve . Relaxation is a big part of this. Because you can use the vagus nerve to regain the balance between stress and rest . The vaginal tone already mentioned plays a major role here, because the higher your vaginal tone , the faster your body regenerates itself after stressful phases. You can train this with simple exercises and tips that activate the vagus nerve and thus gradually increase the vagus tone. You can find out more about this in our articleHow to specifically activate your vagus nerve with these 10 simple tips .

How can you activate the vagus nerve?

A very good chance your vagal tone to train , is the meditation . The reason: Meditation has a positive effect on our health . At first glance this sounds very general, but if you look at the various studies and examinations by experts, you quickly see how many positive effects regular and serious meditation can have. Some examples:

  • Reduces stress
  • Helps you relax
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Reduces chronic inflammation by reducing stress
  • helps to stay mentally fit
  • Promotes creativity

Meditation also goes hand in hand with mindfulness , i.e. the focus and concentration on the present. Mindfulness is also a catchphrase that plays a major role in selfcare . Because being mindful of yourself means taking yourself and your needs holistically – both physically and mentally – seriously and taking them into account. Meditating includes your breathing , another important aspect of relaxation.

Meditation is a great way to find your calm.

When you meditate, you are completely with yourself and in the present . Say, you are mindful and you get a feeling for yourself and your body. In meditation it is easier for you to formulate thoughts clearly and at the same time to free yourself from heavy thoughts. By the way, there is no right or wrong here . While there are basic tips to make it easier for you to meditate, you will find your own individual path .

The meditation has thereby no direction and no goal . It’s more about just letting go and being with you. Accept the thoughts and feelings you have while meditating. This is not about wanting to achieve something with sheer willpower, but rather about letting go . And yes, that is difficult because we are used to making an effort to be successful. When meditating it goes against it a matter of accepting what happens.

Can meditation also have disadvantages? Yes, because there is a risk with previous mental illnesses , not with healthy people. With those affected it can happen that the meditation sets false impulses . Depending on the goal with which you practice your meditation, you can initiate something in you that can have a negative effect on you. That sounds complicated, hence an example: If someone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) , they may relive the stressful event in meditation. In patients with psychoses , meditation can lead to delusionsto be triggered. Even with an anxiety disorder , meditation can trigger a negative spiral of thought .

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If you now feel unsure , it is helpful to contact experts in your area. If you have physical or emotional complaints, this can be your family doctor . If you feel insecure about meditation, formal training from a professional provider can help you shed shyness.

You see, meditation itself is holistic and can improve your everyday life in many ways. You can find even more knowledge on the subject in our Meditation section . We are now primarily focusing on the effects of meditation on stress. You can use meditation to activate your vagus nerve and train your vagus tone . As already mentioned, a high vagal tone ensures that your body returns to relaxation mode better and faster after stress . A few tips about meditation, which we are now introducing to you, are suitable for this.

Tips for stress-free meditation

No matter whether you already meditate regularly or want to integrate it into your everyday life: you can expand your own exercises with a few tricks so that you train your vagus tone at the same time . This will help you deal with stress and it will help you relax better. We have a few basic tips especially for newbies :

  • The right place

In itself you can meditate anywhere, but especially at the beginning it is helpful if you have a nice and quiet place that helps you to focus more easily. In addition, a comfortable surface, such as a yoga mat , is great and as little distraction as possible around you. After all, you want to focus on yourself and not be constantly distracted by the television. This also means that you switch off your smartphone and cannot be reached.

  • The right time

Meditation lasts as long as you want . Many plan around 10 minutes. But the preparation and follow-up also play a role, so it helps if you plan a generous time frame and are as undisturbed as possible . It is therefore best to use a time of day when you have regular time and rest , such as in the evening before going to bed or in the morning after waking up. This has the advantage that you, for example, energy can fill up for the day or find the necessary rest to sleep.

  • The right attitude

You close your eyes and try desperately to think of nothing. Stop! This thinking of nothing is very tricky because the harder you try to think about nothing, the more your head will race through your head. Therefore, it is better if you open your mind and just let your thoughts flow. Your head doesn’t have to be empty , but by letting go your thoughts will calm down as if by themselves . For some, it also helps to listen to appropriate music .

When meditating, you shouldn’t force anything: calm and serenity are key.

You grab your yoga mat, go to a quiet corner of the living room with a view of the wall, sit cross-legged on the mat and close your eyes. Sounds good, but how can you activate your vagus nerve ? There are actually several ways to influence it directly or indirectly . Some of these options are perfect to incorporate into your daily meditation:

  • The use of your voice
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The vagus nerve runs parallel to your vocal cords , so you can activate it directly with your voice. In your mediation this can be done, for example, by saying a mantra out loud or by the typical Om singing , which makes your vocal cords vibrate really nicely.

  • Correct breathing

Meditation is closely related to breathing because deep and even breathing promotes relaxation . In addition, concentrating on your breathing helps you focus on the here and now. Another plus point: deep abdominal breathing activates your vagus nerve. To do this, you breathe deeply and evenly into your stomach and feel your breaths.

  • Positive emotions

Positive emotions provide positive stimuli in the parasympathetic nervous system . Take advantage of this and rely on positive emotions in your meditation. Say: Look forward to your exercise, to the time you take for yourself. Smile and let warm and positive thoughts flow into your head. Maybe songs that you like will help put you in a correspondingly positive mood here.

  • Socializing

Meditation is a time when you should focus on yourself . But you don’t have to be all alone in a room to do this. You can also meet like-minded people and  meditate together . Why? Because socializing is good for your vagal tone. Because being with people you like speaks to your emotions and helps your emotional balance . This in turn benefits your nerves and your vagus nerve.

  • contact

There is a nice way for meditation professionals to activate the vagus nerve . The vagus nerve runs along some parts of your body so that you can activate it with gentle touches and massages . You can do this directly on your neck, for example, because this is where the cranial nerve runs along the side. So, gently stroking or massaging your neck is a great way to activate your vagus nerve. But be careful, do not work with too much pressure , because this tenses your body or it can even hurt.
Another option is a gentle foot massage during your meditation. However, this takes some practice until you don’t have to focus too much on touching yourself, otherwise immersing yourself in meditation will be difficult.

Depending on how you meditate, all or only some points are suitable for activating the vagus nerve during your meditation. One thing is clear: no matter how you meditate, if you feel good and have positive emotions , it will always have a good effect on your vagal tone.

Vagus nerve and meditation: a dynamic duo against stress

As a resting nerve, the vagus nerve plays a major role in dealing with stress. The higher your vaginal tone, the better your body will calm down after a stressful situation. You can train the vagus tone by activating your vagus nerve . One of them is meditation , as these are medically proven beneficial effects on your physical and mental health . You will find many helpful articles on dealing with stress under the heading of relaxation .

You can use this to expand your daily routine with a few tips in order to activate your vagus nerve at the same time as your meditation. If you now want to find out more about the vagus nerve, our article Facts about the vagus nerve provides you with a lot of background information.

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