Week 2: Cultivate Calm
Week 2: Cultivate Calm

Week 2: Cultivate Calm

📝 Assignments + Group Discussions

✔️ WEEK 2 // NSM Listening

🎙️ Listen to the Week 2 Pod-class Theory Episode

🫁 WEEK 2 // NSM Protocols

🎙️ Listen to the Week 2 Pod-class Protocol Episode
🌬️ Practice the Calming Protocol each morning + evening
🛏️ Practice at least one 30 minute session of guided Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest (NSDR) practice.

👪 WEEK 2 // NSM Self-Reflections + Group Explorations

🟢 What are the times or environments in recent memory that you've found yourself in high-tone ventral vagal states? How does it feel in your body? What is one word that you would use to correlate with this state?
🟠 What are the times in recent memory that you've found yourself in high-tone sympathetic states? How does it feel in your body? What are your common triggers?
🔴 Can you recall ever experiencing 'dorsal shutdown' during a time of extreme stress?
🤖 When you find yourself in an extended period of sympathetic activation – perhaps at the edge of your window of tolerance or desiring to come back down — what are some of your go-to autopilot self-regulation strategies? (example: drinking alcohol in the evening to unwind)
🥷 Brainstorm or share some ideas for more conscious and healthy self-regulation or co-regulation strategies that you'd like to experiment with (example: stretching in the evening instead of watching Netflix)
🦺 What creates an embodied sense of safety (aka. neuroception) for you? What gets in the way? Include these in your self-regulation strategies.
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IMPORTANT: Finally, when you're done—please complete the Week 2 Typeform Assignment here (due Friday)

🎙️ WEEK 2 // Pod-Class Theory Ep. #2 Course Notes

🎙️ What we'll be discussing today:

Welcome to Week 2 of Nervous System Mastery.

This is a big + juicy episode on cultivating calm and one that I imagine many of you are interested in. If you're able to really digest and integrate this knowledge it will have a profound impact on your life as it has mine—so I'm really excited to be sharing this with you.

  • So we're going to begin by exploring the connection between 'How we Breathe' + 'How we Feel', diving into a bit of light endocrinology.
  • Then we'll go into what's known as 'Polyvagal Theory'— which in my view is one of the most important and practically useful frameworks for understanding your nervous system and understanding what happens on the level of our biology when we burnout or go into exhaustion.
  • From here we'll discuss the difference between conscious vs. unconscious self-regulation strategies and how the 'interoceptive capacity' we talked about last week is so crucial for escaping unhealthy patterns of behaviour. I'll also share some ideas for protocols that you can explore beyond breathing.
  • Finally, we'll go into the underlying mechanisms for the two protocols this week and how we can use them to build what's known in the neuroscience as 'Ventral Vagal Tone' — which you can think of as building your relaxation muscle.

There's a lot of science + models being thrown at you this week, so it may be helpful to listen to this episode a couple of times as well as attempt to describe some of the concepts in your own words to your accountability groups.

🫁 1. How We Breathe = How We Feel

Okay, so let's start out with a fairly radical idea—that we how breathe... directly impacts how we feel and even the thoughts that we have.

How are you breathing right now? Notice how you were breathing without being conscious of it.

What is remarkable about the breath is that it’s the one activity in our body that happens on it’s own—but can also be controlled consciously.

But for most of us—in reality—we rarely tune in to enquire how our breath is or consciously shift it. This might be interesting, but why does it matter?

Let’s say that for the purposes of feeling this, I’d like you to deliberately breathe faster than usual, through your mouth and into your upper chest for the next minute or so, so you can feel the effects of this.

There is a tiny cluster of neurons – called the medulla oblongata – deep in the brain stem that is essentially spying on the way that we’re breathing and using this data to then send signals to the nervous system via the Vegas Nerve.

So let’s say that your breathing is: through the mouth, is quite shallow so only into the upper chest and is fairly rapid.

The Medulla Oblongata picks up on this and sends signals to activate the sympathetic part of your nervous system.

This in turn creates a cascade effect sending signals to your endocrine system to secrete adrenaline and cortisol from your adrenals, which creating measurable shifts in your blood chemistry.

These shifts in blood chemistry then make their way back into your control centre of the brain—and they dramatically impact the emotions that you feel and even the tone of thoughts that you're likely to have.

And from here, if we're not careful, these these thoughts + feelings will then serve to reinforce or even exacerbate the very breath pattern which is generating the sympathetic response in the nervous system.

Meditation and mindfulness seeks to break this loop—and help us to avoid getting stuck in these vicious cycles—however, when we're really activated, unless we have thousands of hours of mindfulness training under our belts, this is really bloody challenging.

But what we can do, which is pretty miraculous, is intervene at the level of our breathing, to shift the blood chemistry, to directly shift our state.

By changing the way that we breathe, using the two protocols at the end of this episode, we send different signals to the Medulla Oblongata – which in turn notices... and sends signals to our endocrine system to produce the neurotransmitter 'Acetylcholine' which lead to slowing down our heart rate, stimulating our digestive system, regulating blood pressure and essentially returns our body to homeostasis.

I really want to underscore this profound and deep insight that emerges from this sceince—that our seemly objective experience of reality is in fact entirely mediated through our neurotransmitters—and because a breathing pattern shift creates a reliable and consistent shift in blood chemistry—this will in turn radically alter our experience of life.

🚦 2. Primer on Polyvagal Theory + Ventral Braking

Alright, so as I mentioned at the beginning, we're going to move on to talk about Polyvagal theory and how we can leverage this greater understanding to avoid burnout, access deep states of calm and increase our heart-rate variablilty.

So before, diving in I will preface this by saying that this is still classed as a 'Theory' or 'Hypothesis' that was initially proposed by Dr Steven Porges, and like many novel theories has received it's fair share of back and forth criticism and rebuttals, but knowing that, I've found it to be an extremely helpful map to describe the territory of the nervous system — both in my work as a breathwork practitioner and emotional resilience researcher, which is why I'm choosing to share it here as part of the core curriculum.

So one of the main ideas behind Polyvagal theory is that the nervous system actually has three branches, not two. The first branch—the one many of you have probably heard of is the sympathetic chain — which is responsible for mobilising + activating our system. However, the parasympathetic branch in fact consists of two very distinct components — known as the Ventral Vagal State and the Dorsal Vagal State.

To illustrate the difference between these three branches, I find it helpful to work with the analogy of a moving car — and at the simplest level: the sympathetic branch is like your gas pedal or accelerator as we prefer to say in England.

The ventral vagal branch is like your footbrake, to be used most of the time — and the dorsal branch is the handbrake.

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So let's unpack each of these three in a little more detail...

The Gas Pedal aka Sympathetic branch' — this increases the activation in our system. When it's within our window of tolerance we call it stimulation, when it's too much we call it stress.

In this state our face expression changes, we're able to detect lower pitch sounds and there's less change in the rhythm and pitch of our voice — which is how we can sometimes tell if someone is freaking our on stage.

We may also feel tension in our eyes (to look out for danger), tightness in our neck and shoulders again to protect ourselves and gut functioning is inhibited or even knotted.

The footbrake – aka 'Ventral Vagal State' — this is system that our protocols this week are concerned with. When we are in 'high ventral tone' we feel in flow, calm, creative and at ease. Co-regulation with others is possible. Our immune and endocrine systems are functioning well. Our heart rate slows down to a resting level.

The literature has also shown that the Ventral Vagus is very related to our internal perception of safety, which Dr. Steven Porges describes as 'Neuroception' – and supports the perception of safety. When this is functioning well it's described as having good tone.

When the vagus nerve is working well, we're primed for communication and social interaction. We'll be able to smile with the upper part of our faces and due to shifts in the muscles of our inner ear, we're able to listen and connect to one voice in front of us even in a busy room.

Handbrake - "Dorsal Vagal State" // we will talk about the Dorsal Vagal in more depth in week 4 on Resilience, however for now it's enough to know that this state is correlated to our freeze or immobilisation response that acts to keep us alive in times of extreme stress. It's more like handbrake because there's no 'myelination' and is the most primative part of our nervous system. The Dorsal kicks in after extended periods of chronic stress — it's essentially like the fuse in our system that kicks in when we say that we experience 'burnout'— known in the literature as Hypoarousal and is a way to move away from pain by disassociating — often experienced as deep lethargy, withdrawl or exhaustion.

It's interesting to consider that we can also blend these states. Play for example is a combination of sympathetic and ventral — we have mobilising energy but we still feel safe and social.

Blending ventral and dorsal is a state of deep rest and can be extremely restorative—this is what we're accessing when working with Non-sleep-deep-rest protocols.

The key here is accessing flexibility and for many of us, retraining the Ventral Brake such that we're able to recover swiftly after stress and down-regulate our system.

📈 Window Of Tolerance Illustration

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PAUSE: before we move onto self-regualation strategies I'd recommend pausing this episode and either moving your body, returning to your breath and making notes on anything you'd like to recall or ask questions about.

🤖 3. Dangers of Autopilot Self-regulation Strategies

In the course notes I've included a diagram called 'The Window of Tolerance' which shows an example day of how these three branches are activated by various activities like drinking coffee or eating lunch etc.

Essentially when we go too far up into the activation of the sympathetic arousal, this is where the emotions of anxiety or anger can arise — and on the upper edge of our 'window of tolerance' then we typically engage in self-regulation strategies to bring ourselves back down. Equally, we might go down into the blue parasympathetic during the day when we actually want more energy so then we have self-regulation strategies to energise ourselves again.

So the term "self-regulation strategy" is essentially a fancy way of saying — the stuff we do to calm down and unwind from stress or energise ourselves when we're low on energy.

We've all acquired different habits or patterns of behaviour for this and I want to be clear that judgement here isn't useful — but just to firstly be aware that this is what you're doing & know that they will differ in their short-term efficacy and long-term health impact.

So as a personal example, when I was a teenager after I came home from a stressful day at school I would climb up onto the roof and smoke a rolled-up tobacco whist gazing out at the horizon (I don't actually think my parents know this even to this day).

I know for many of us listening we might drink a couple of glasses of wine at the end of the day or perhaps take some CBD.

The point that I want to emphasise here is that whatever we do—we want to be aware of how we feel both before and after—which comes back to cultivating the capacity for interoception we talked about last week.

My wife and I have a phrase that we like to use — "I'm onto myself" — and it's this idea of becoming increasingly self-aware of our subconscious patterns. So for example, one of mine was going to raid the fridge for dark chocolate, which ironically only made things worse.

Does anything come to mind for you? Perhaps you start to bite the side of your tongue, or pick up the phone and scroll for a hit of dopamine. It's really fascinating to explore our own tendencies – ideally with a non-judgemental sense of curiosity.

From here, we get to be more intentional with the tools and protocols that we use for self-regulation and become skilled at knowing when + how to work with each.

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Alright, before we dive into the self-regulation protocols—I invite you to pause this episode and take a moment to either make notes or perhaps record a voice memo to yourself summarising what you've heard so far? You can even open up the Discord app and share reflections or questions in the group.

🥷 4. Suggestions for Intentional Down-Regulation Protocols

I'm going to share a few ideas for self-regulation protocols that you might like to experiment with in addition to the two protocols that we'll be working with in this week's PROTOCOL episode which I've found to be profoundly effective in my own life and are both backed by quality scientific literature.

I find it helpful to distinguish between two categories of self regulation:

  1. The first are regular practices that keep you in regulated routines and working with your natural Ultradian Rhythms during the day. Examples might be attending a yin yoga class at the end of the week, or going to the sauna, or perhaps wearing blue-blocking glasses in the evening to increase melatonin production and support the quality of your sleep.
  2. Second are the real-time protocols for recovering when we're caught off-guard by life's curveballs. I like to call this category IF [THIS] THEN [BREATHE] — where we know exactly how we can down-regulate our system and calm down when we're unexpectedly stressed.

Ultimately it's down to you to experiment with what suits your personal needs, schedule and preferences. Please do share these both with your learning pods and in the group Discord server.

This two protocols that I'm going to focus on firstly a super weird breathing practice that you can use anytime and anywhere to down-shift your state. Second, we'll talk about non-sleep deep rest and finally I'll share some additional real-time protocols that can be used to rapidly recover from stress when required.

🐝 #1 Theory behind ANB + VOO-HUM Breath

The two calming protocols that I've found to be most effective and are supported by studies are triangular breathing through individual nostrils and what's known in the literature as the Single Breath Hum.

As an anecdote from me, I've used both of these myself both before walking onto a TEDx stage to rapidly calm my nervous system—and I also use them both during what's known as the 'breathe up' before attempting a freedive on a single breath of air.

After a fair amount of training, I can feel my heart rate slowing down, my body goes into a super relaxed jelly-fish mode where I've been able to hold my breath for over six minutes. So these are really powerful levers for rapidly shifting our biology.

👃 So what are the mechanisms at play here?

Starting with triangular alternate nostril breathing

As we mentioned earlier, the ratio of the inhale to exhale is what really matters—and for this breath you want the exhale to be twice as long as the inhale. So I typically recommend starting with inhale of 3 and exhale of 6, and then working up to 4-8 or 5-10 if you have sufficient capacity.

But why through alternate nostrils? It's a good question, in the yoga world they say that it helps to balance the hemispheres of the brain but I was unable to find any data to support this, whilst this may be true, my theory is that because we're reducing the aperture of airflow — breathing only through one nostril not both, it's enhancing the air-hunger which doubles down on the CO2 in our blood system which enhances the parasympathetic response.

Finally, this is super nerdy but while we're doing this we are also circulating what's known as 'Cerebrial Spinal Fluid' or CSF which you've probably never heard of but it might be the most important fluid of your body, there's only about 250ml it and it flows around your spinal cord and brain.

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Every day this volume is replaced about four times, and its circulation is absolutely vital for your immune system functioning and pruning synapses. It's also the same fluid that during longer breathing journeys will create pressure against your pineal gland and release DMT, but we'll come back to that in week 4.

🐝 Alright, if you think breathing through alternate nostrils is weird, it gets even better. We're going to talk about what I call the "VOO-HUM" Breath.

Firstly, remember that we have our parasympathetic neuron receptors both in our lower belly and around our throat. So when we breathe or stimulate these areas it will kick in our relaxation response.

It turns out that when you make the sound VOOO, the resonance of that sound will have a vibratory quality in your lower belly which stimulates what's known as your 'enteric nervous system'.

The more attuned your interoception, the more that you will feel it. Similarly, the noise 'HUMMM' you will feel a vibration in your head and throat area. So this is one half of the mechanism.

The other aspect of why this is so effective, I find absolutely fascinating and it has to do with nitric oxide.

There's one study that I found in which researchers found that what they referred to as 'Single Breath Humming' caused a 15-fold increase in Nitric Oxide compared with quiet exhalation. 15-fold is HUGE.

Nitric oxide, is a natural vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.

The researchers in this particular study that I've linked to in the course notes believed that humming causes the air to oscillate, which seems to increase the exchange of air between the sinuses and the nasal cavity — which also has an effect of increasing sinus ventilation (in other words clearing a stuffy nose).

I've also found this to be effective and reducing the effects of Zoom fatigue when my eyes feel tired.

This is also EXTREMELY effective if you ever find yourself in an ice-bath. Practice this or even doing it into the water and you'll feel the effects instantly—it will kick in your parasympathetic and you'll be able to access calm even in the icy temperatures.

I found one 2019 study which looked at the connection between playing the 'Didgeridoo' and the stability of autonomic nervous system. The connection here is that as you might imagine didge players are essentially humming constantly while they're playing, strengthening their respiratory muscles via what's known as the 'phrenic nerve' as well as stimulating this parasympathetic response and releasing nitric oxide.

🐝 Okay one FINAL thing. If you don't mind trying something weird—and let's face it lots of this stuff is WEIRD by conventional standards. You can increase the impact of these oscillations by placing your thumbs deep in your ear canal and your ring finger on the bridge of your nose.

Take in a full breath and hum on the exhale for as long as you can. Repeat this for 5 or 6 times and feel the effects of the Nitric Oxide in your system.

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🎧 There is a separate protocol episode with a guided ten-minute VOO-HUM practice that you can listen to—and I really invite you to do this in weird places. It might be on a train, before a meeting... don't be afraid to take this practice out into the wild!

🛌 #2 NSDR or Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest

This is a category coined by Professor Andrew Huberman whose podcast Huberman Labs I absolutely recommend you subscribe to. The main two practices that NSDR includes are self-hypnosis and nidra. Both are designed to bring our bodies into a state of deep rest—whilst remaining aware and not falling asleep.

I have a weekly nidra practice that I use after lunch—where I will lie down and listen for just over 30 minutes, and then move into my afternoon feeling deeply rested and with a second wind of energy.

So what is nidra? I like to think of it as being a supercharged powernap. If you were to measure your brain waves during the practice, you'd see that they are rapidly moving from active beta, into alpha and eventually down into what's known as a "hypnagogic state”—which is the threshold between alpha & theta waves, kinda like a knife’s edge where the body technically “sleeps” while the mind is lucid.

In one study I came across, a nidra practice was delivered weekly for 16 weeks, remotely to 32 patients suffering from generalised anxiety and they reported that their overall state anxiety was decreased by 41%.

If you would like to try this for yourself you can listen to the 30-minute guided nidra practice episode.

🧰 Additional Self-Regulation Practices

🧘‍♂️ 1 // Myofascial Release

When we're stressed our posture often reflects this, and as part of your interoception practice you might notice that you clench your jaw a little more or maybe you're more hunched over at certain times. These bio-mechanical shifts that we talked about earlier impact your blood chemistry and actually increase the felt sense of stress.

I'm a big fan of yin yoga (relevant study), which you've probably heard of is essentially a practice of Myofascial Release through holding fairly simple stretches, mostly forward folds for a period of 3-5 minutes such that the fascia around the muscle relaxes. Forward folds are especially calming since as the front of the body works to pull the chest toward the thighs, the muscles along the spine lengthen. When the spine lengthens, the nerves that run along the spine are stimulated. These nerves are part of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. You can easily find an online class and practice this at hoe before bed.

I also find that hanging is also a fantastic way to release tension and extend your spine (which as we've learnt is also an extension of your brain), we've evolved from apes and our bodies are actually built to hang off things. I have a couple of wooden rings that I will hang off in the morning, evening or after I've been sitting down for extended periods of time.

👐 2 // Self-Havening Technique

I'll mention briefly that there's a technique called 'Self-havening' which is designed to increase our 'neuroception' which is our felt sense of safety.

In this pretty simple technique which you can find many videos online that guide you through applying soothing self-touch to your hands, upper arms and face. This isn't something I've used much myself but I'm mentioning it because I have good friends who have found it incredibly beneficial.

😮 3 // The Physiological Sigh

Third is one that I came across via the work of Stanford professor of Professor and neurobiologist Andrew Huberman (link) whose work and podcast Huberman Labs I'm a huge fan of and if you don't already subscribe to it I would add it and go through every single one of his archive episodes to date.

The two protocols he recommends which are also backed up by the literature are the 'physiological sigh' and what he describes as 'optic flow'.

First, these physiological sighs are essentially double inhalations followed by exhalations. Children also do this when they are sobbing and you might notice yourself doing this automatically if you downshift into a parasympathetic state.

👀 4 // Optic Flow

The other technique which came from the research of Andrew Huberman is what he calls 'Optic Flow'.

You can read more about the underlying mechanisms at play here in the interview with Andrew that I've linked in the course notes, but essentially because like the breath, our visual system is bi-directional, it means that we can actually turn off the stress response by changing the way that we are viewing our environment, regardless of what’s in that environment.

So what he calls optic flow or panoramic vision is when you keep your head still, you'll find that you're able to dilate your gaze such that you can see more of the periphery—above, below and to the sides.

You can try this now whilst listening assuming that you're in a safe place to do so. Simply close and gently roll your eyes upward as if you're sending them back a couple of inches to widen your visual field.

Keeping both eyes closed scan your environment all around, up, down, left, right. Do this a few times... and now open your eyes maintaining this peripheral vision and see how you feel.

👪 5 // Harnessing "Co-Regulation"

The final category that I want to end on is the concept of 'Co-Regulation'. Hopefully you remember from earlier we talked about how the 'Ventral Vagal' branch is associated with social activity. This is really hard-wired into our biology, if you think back to our cave-man days it was a fundamental survival mechanism to not be alone.

As we can see with most young kids, whenever something stressful happens, the first thing they do to regulate is to turn to their caregiver. They're not shy about it, they know they need to receive soothing words, or soft touch and the funny thing is that as adults not much has shifted. Only now our ways of co-regulating usually comes through perhaps a long hug with a friend, cuddling with a loved one... or perhaps playing with a pet.

Kelly and I are currently dog-sitting for a young Labrador puppy called Kala who we've nicknamed our co-regulation puppy because she'll jump up on the sofa with us in the evenings and plant her self flat out across out laps.

I found one study published last year, which looked at the phenomenon of what the researchers called cardiac synchrony between couples—what they found was that during interactions between couples was that both their heart rate and heart-rate variablity begun to sychronise (more on how this happens here).

So to the extent that you can remember that there are real benefits to spending time around other nervous systems, make a habit of slightly longer hugs if you can and if other humans are hard to come-by then you can also co-regulate in the presence of nature.

📝 Summary + Wrap up

Alright, this was one hell of a big episode. I wanted it to be thorough since I know that accessing more consistent and deeper states of calm was a big reason that many of you are listening.

We covered:

  • How our breath pattern shifts blood chemistry and alters how we feel.
  • We talked about Polyvagal theory and the key difference between the two branches of the parasympathetic nervous system—the ventral and dorsal vagal branches.
  • We then discussed some of the dangers of Autopilot Self-regulation Strategies and went through some suggestions for more conscious self-regulation.
  • These two main protocols included alternate nostril breathing combined with the VOO-HUM breath, non-sleep deep rest or NSDR.
  • Additional techniques that were mentioned were myfascial release, self-havening, the physiological sigh, optic flow and perhaps the most important of all—co-regulation.

I invite you to both takes notes on what resonated with you in this episode, share any questions in the Discord Server, and as always treat these protocols as experiments that you can run on yourself, checking in with your interoception before and after to notice any shifts that they have.

Alright we'll wrap the episode with that, have a great week and I look forward to answering your questions.

🫁 Calming Protocols (Transcripts)

🐝 Guided Calming Protocol (Alternate Nostril Breathing + 'Toning')

Okay in this we're going to be going through a ten minute calming protocol that will start off as always with interoception sensing.

Followed by the alternate nostril breathing — then VOO HUM — and then finally checking in again with our interoception.

➝ We'll begin with Interoception sensing

So find yourself in a comfortable seat either in a chair or cross-legged. Making sure your lower back is supported.

And now just begin by tuning into any external sounds you might be able to hear in the room or outside.

Now bring your attention to the contact points you have with the floor. What quality of sensation is present here?

Now bring your awareness internally, see what you can notice in your body right now? Slowly scan from your feet, upwards to your calves and thighs. Now into your belly... and your chest. If you notice any holding or tension here just be with that.

Finally bring your awareness up into your chest, and shoulders. Can you notice your heart-beat here? Spend a moment to see if you can feel your own pulse?

Finally, now just observe the breath. How is your body moving as the breath enters and leaves your body? You can bring your right hand to your belly and perhaps feel it gently expand on your inhale, and then fall back down on exhale.

If you pay close attention to your nostrils, you might notice the breath feel slightly warmer on exhale compared to inhale.

See if you notice anything else about your breath here.

Alright, now we're going to practice 4 rounds of alternate nostril breathing to a count of 3 in through the left nostril, holding for three then out for a count of 6.

From there we'll inhale right 3, hold three and out left for 6.

So begin by bringing your right hand up to your nose, and you'll use your thumb to block your right nostril, and your ring finger to block your left nostil.

Let's begin.

Close your right nostril and breath in left – 2, 3.

Close both and hold – 2, 3.

Now closing your left side exhale right, 2,3,4,5,6.

Inhale right, 2, 3.

hold both, 2, 3.

exhale left, 2,3,4,5,6.

-

inhale left 2, 3.

Close both and hold – 2, 3.

exhale right, 2,3,4,5,6.

inhale right, 2, 3

hold both, 2, 3.

exhale left, 2,3,4,5,6.

-

inhale left 2, 3.

Close both and hold – 2, 3.

exhale right, 2,3,4,5,6.

inhale right, 2, 3

hold both, 2, 3.

exhale left, 2,3,4,5,6.

one more round

inhale left 2, 3.

Close both and hold – 2, 3.

exhale right, 2,3,4,5,6.

inhale right, 2, 3

hold both, 2, 3.

exhale left, 2,3,4,5,6.

Alright, now letting the breath settle.

Notice if you feel any shifts in your body.

Perhaps the breath is a little more subtle than before.

Now we're going to make the sound VOO – HUMM to release nitric oxide in our bodies and notice the effects of that on our nervous system.

The sound VOO will be for the first half of your breath, and then HUM for the second half. This won't be possible if you're listening to this through headphones, but if not, you can also place your thumbs inside your ear canal and your ring fingers onto either side of the bridge of your nose to amplify the effect of the humming.

Alright let's do 10 full rounds.

Take a breath in.

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

VOOOO – Hummmm

Now allow your natural breath to return.

See if you can notice any of the effects of the nitric oxide in your body. Does it feel like your ventral vagus branch of the parasympathetic system has been activated? Do you feel calmer or more grounded at all? Is your mind a little less active?

Well done for completing this calming protocol. You're learning to use the bio-mechanics of your breath as a lever to shift the state of your nervous system.

Remember that you can use shorter or longer versions of this practice anytime you need during the day or perhaps in the evening before bed to unwind.

Okay, the practice is now complete.

🛌 Guided Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest

Welcome to this guided NSDR practice.

When you are ready to begin, please lie down and settle on your back.

Be sure that whatever you're resting on is soft yet supportive enough.

So for the next half hour or so, you can be completely comfortable and not have to move or adjust your position.

If you like, place a rolled blanket onto your knees for additional lower back support and consider the use of a cervical pillow to support your neck.

Position your head so that your neck and upper spine are completely free of tension.

It can also be supportive to have an eye-mask on for the duration of this practice or be in a room without bright lights

Rest your arms by your side with your palms turned face up, and nothing touching your fingertips.

Feel your whole body beginning to soften.

As you listen, just allow my directions to wash over you. The more effortless you can be the better. There's nothing to reach for nothing to accomplish.

We'll be entering a deep state of rest coupled with a slight trace of awareness. simply relax and be aware.

This practice is all about learning to become and learning to be completely effortless.

Close your eyes. Let your body open and settle deeply and completely. Relax. Allow your upper and lower teeth to part slightly.

Begin by taking a few slow comfortable breaths. Breathing in and out through the nostrils. sense that each time you exhale, the body relaxes more completely.

Continue to breathe in smoothly. And as you exhale, release all stress and tension. Remember not to try. Breathe in and out effortlessly.

Continue to breathe smoothly and evenly for another few moments. continue to refine and balance your breath so that it's even and smooth.

Now, allow your breath to become involuntary.

We're going to scan the body and create relaxation through tensing individual muscles.

Starting with your feet. As you breath in tense and contract the muscles in your feet. Exhale and let it go.

Now inhale and contract your calves and shins. Exhale and let it go.

Inhale and contract your thighs. Exhale and let it go.

Inhale and tense your gluts and hip flexors. Exhale and let them go.

Inhale and tense your belly and lower back. Exhale and let them go.

Inhale and tense your diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Exhale and let them go.

Inhale and tense your upper chest and shoulders. Exhale with a big sigh and let them go.

Now inhale and clench your hands into fists. Exhale and let them go.

Inhale and tense your whole arms. Exhale and let them go.

Inhale and squeeze your jaw and face and eyes... and let that go.

Finally with one big inhale tense your entire body... hold 2, 3, 4 and let it all go.

From here, sense your body at ease your mind open and at peace. Feel your body opening to the earth. Your whole body is softening. facial muscles relax jaw, tongue, and lips all relax.

Your eyes relax as they succumb to the pull of gravity.

Feel a growing sense of peace and appreciation for exactly where you are in this very moment.

Now you're ready for the next stage — a scan of points throughout the body. As I guide you to these points do not try to actively concentrate on them but rather just be aware of the specific area I'm directing you to.

This part of the practice will develop and refine your sense of interoception and specific nerve clusters throughout your body.

Okay, to start off please bring your attention to the point between your eyebrows. Relax the whole body. Be aware of the point between your eyebrows.

Bring your attention to your throat. Be effortless.

To the center of your right shoulder joint.

Center of the right elbow. Be effortless.

Right wrist.

Tip of your thumb.

Relax the whole body.

Right index finger. Middle finger, relax. Ring finger. Little Finger relax the whole body.

Move into your right wrist. right elbow. Right shoulder

Be effortless. Center of your throat.

Please move your awareness to your left shoulder joint. Be effortless. Left elbow. left wrist. Tip of the left thumb.

Relax. Tip of the index finger. Middle finger left ring finger. Little Finger relax the whole body.

Bring your awareness to your left wrist. left elbow. left shoulder. center of the throat whole body effortless.

Draw up your attention down to your sternam. Relax

The right chest. Be aware of the right chest.

Relax your whole body. Now the center of the breastbone.

left chest. center of the breastbone. throat

Be mindful of the center of your throat. Whole body relaxed.

Move your attention to the point between your eyebrows Relax. Relax your whole body. Be aware of the point between your eyebrows.

The next stage of practice, you're going to imagine feeling different sensations.

Once again, remember to be effortless. Imagine that the body is heavy. feel as though your whole body is sinking into the earth. Every part of the body arms, legs, torso and head is being drawn toward the center of the earth.

Even the eyes and the eyelids are heavy. Feel the whole body heavy.

Be effortless, and feel the whole body heavy. Now feel the body is weightless. Head is weightless, arms are weightless, whole body is weightless.

The body is so light that you are now aware that there is space between your body and the surface on which it is resting. Be aware of this space between the body and whatever it is resting on.

Just relax. There is nothing to do, nothing to look for. Be effortless, and just observe.

Be effortless and just observe Please bring your attention to your breath. And watch as the breath moves in and out through the nostrils.

Begin to notice air passing through your nostrils. Feel it rise smoothly on inhale and fall on exhale.

Finally, let go of any sense of doing or trying. For the final minute of this practice you have full permission to let go into a state of deep relaxation.

Alright, please become aware of your breath.

Be aware of the body breathing.

Gradually become more conscious of the sounds around you.

Slowly come back to your breath. Come back to the body.

Take your time. Start to move your body any way that feels good.

When you're ready, inhale and roll over to your right side to adjust.

Gradually, come to a seated position and open your eyes.

The practice of NON SLEEP DEEP REST is now complete.