It’s been 8 or 9 months since I started Belly Button Healing with the Healing Life Wand and I’m very happy to report that the effects are ongoing and long lasting. I am convinced that this simple self-healing exercise is having a positive impact on my well-being. It’s also been a very welcome aid to digestion after over indulging and being inactive over the festive season. It definitely feels like it helps to process all that rich food! And I’ve also been motivated to start another 7 day detox!
Even though I feel the benefits I am still curious about why it works so well for me. A little while ago I was with my Body & Brain teacher and she talked about the enteric nervous system and the Vagus nerve, so this piqued my interest. I can’t resist checking for myself and there are lots of research articles on-line which explain!
The gut is referred to as the second brain or the gut brain. The medical term is the enteric nervous system and this functions in a very similar way to the brain in your head. The enteric nervous system is located in the area from throat to colon; the whole digestive system. It sends signals, impulses and messages, learns and remembers, supports cells and responds to emotions. It has a circuitry that enables it to function independently and produces what we call ‘gut feelings’. There is a whole new field of medicine called "neurogastroenterology" looking into this.
Our bodies have evolved to have 2 brains because when we were simple life forms (stuck to rocks!) the only nervous system needed was that which dealt with passing food, the enteric nervous system. As we evolved into more complex creatures a more complex central nervous system developed. Because we need to nourish ourselves from birth (and pre-birth), and before we actually need a central nervous system, the enteric nervous system has been preserved to function pretty much independently. It’s only at later stages of development that the two nervous systems need to be connected, and this is through a cable called the Vagus nerve. Put simply, the Vagus nerve is the highway through which signals are sent between the two brains. This is how and why the condition of the brain affects the gut and the condition of the gut affects the brain.
Interestingly, Vagus nerve stimulation (by breathing techniques) is used in conventional medicine for conditions such as some cases of epilepsy and depression. Also, the Vagus nerve can be irritated (and its function affected) by poor posture, alcohol, spicy foods, muscular imbalances, fatigue and anxiety.
Having spent quite a bit of time looking into all of this I found that Ilchi Lee explains this all very clearly in his brilliant new book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. He says: ‘The belly button is the most effective point for stimulating the Vagus nerve because it has few layers of muscle beneath it. Repeatedly and rhythmically pressing the belly button stimulates the Vagus nerve in the intestine and that can have a ripple effect on the brain and the other organs.’ (Chapter 5)
Most of us go through life paying little attention to our bodies until something goes wrong. Then, for many of us, the first reaction is to go to the doctor or another person to find an answer. But there is so much we can do for ourselves to help our bodies function well. I’m convinced that Belly Button Healing is one of several tools we can use to maintain and heal ourselves. I’m constantly amazed at how much there is to learn about our bodies and how little I know. I am slowly coming round to what my Body & Brain teacher has been telling me for ages now; that I don’t necessarily have to understand everything, instead I should listen more to myself and follow what feels good to my body.