You have an entire nervous system in your gut.
It’s called the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s complex
enough to act independently from the brain.
It literally learns from experience and remembers past actions and
events. It produces a variety of feelings you think of as “gut
feelings” or “gut instincts”.
From an evolutionary standpoint, this second brain developed for
purposes of survival. When rapid thought or action is required, it’s
often better to bypass your conscious, rational brain. Your actions
are faster and, usually, you make a more accurate decision.
Your gut contains 100 million neurotransmitters — the same number
as in your brain. The gut is more responsible than you may have
ever guessed for your mental wellbeing, AND how you feel physically.
The enteric nervous system appears to mirror the central nervous
system. It produces many of the same chemicals that affect your
feelings of energy and wellbeing.
For many years, it was thought that the ENS was part of the
parasympathetic nervous system. In recent years, scientists have
determined that it acts independently.
But the two appear to be interlinked. And one of the ways you can
positively affect the nervous system in your gut is through deep
You’ve probably caught yourself sighing when you were frustrated
or feeling down about something. Most people see this as evidence
of depressing feelings.
It’s actually your body’s effort to break out of feelings of
depression or frustration. The sigh involves a deeper inhalation
and exhalation than normal. It involves a physical release through
the breath, that actually enables a release of feelings as well.
In other words, it’s your body’s instinctive effort to help you
You can make use of this instinctive mechanism and interplay
between your “second brain” and your parasympathetic nervous
For example, if you are facing a daunting task, whether it’s
delivering bad news, or getting started on a major project that
will involve a lot of work, or perhaps trying to maintain patience
when your kids are misbehaving…
Take a deep breath and then let it release. In through your nose,
out through your mouth, like a sigh. Do this once or twice more.
You will immediately sense a change in how your gut feels. It’s
almost like a release of tension.
If you are experiencing anxiety, or high blood pressure, or pain,
try the same thing. Perform several “synthetic sighs”.
Breathing exercises, like the ones in the Secret Power of Dynamic
Energy Exercise Course, Volume 1: Invigorate and Rejuvenate,
also help you release and relax.
In just a few moments of coordinate breathing and moving, you
will enjoy a release of tension, tightness and negative
feelings. You’ll able to focus and move forward in a more
relaxed — and effective — manner.
You Can Do It!
Karen Van Ness
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011