What do ancient Tibetan meditation practices, the study of genetics and the science of life extension have in common? They are all interested in the process and mechanisms of human wellness and how to live a long, happy life.
They also share the exploration of how the state of your nervous system and your immune system contribute to health and longevity.
For example, with age your immune system produces more and more inflammatory substances and your nervous system triggers a stress response to this. These events, in turn, promote the breakdown of the body and rapid aging.
Modern Science Finds a Connection
At the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Kevin Tracey discovered exactly how the brain controls the immune system through it’s affect on the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is the primary nerve connecting the brain and every organ of the body. It mediates your heartbeat, your digestion and elimination and, in fact, virtually all of the automatic functions of your body.
Why is this important? Because it is possible to activate the Vagus nerve to control your immune system, reduce inflammation in your body and slow or stop disease and aging.
There are numerous time-tested ways to activate the Vagus nerve in this way. Among the easiest are meditation and guided visualization. Yoga, Qigong and other related practices also help this process tremendously.
Additional studies show that this kind of activity also triggers immediate positive responses in the very core of every cell in your body, your genetic code. These responses help switch on the genes that help control inflammation.
Since the biggest problems as we age all involve inflammatory responses, this is huge news for those people who want to live a long, happy life.
Recreating Your Organs from the Inside Out
Additionally, recent research shows that we are able to constantly create new cells and tissues in the body at any age. This process is mediated by what are called stem cells. If you guessed that the Vagus nerve controls the creation of stem cells, you are catching on!
There are many other positive effects you gain from regularly practicing deep relaxation or meditation. Here’s a short summary of these:
- Reduce inflammation
- Help regenerate your organs and cells by activating stem cells
- Increase your heart rate variability
- Thicken your brain (which normally shrinks with aging)
- Boost immune function
- Modulate your nervous system
- Reduce depression and stress
- Enhance performance
- Improve your quality of life
And, of course, all of these things contribute to living a longer, more healthy life. And, all of these are related to the relaxation response generated through your Vagus nerve.