top of page
  • Eleanor Shannon

The Vagus Nerve

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

The vagus nerve wanders all through our bodies and controls all of our automatic functions like breath, heart beat, digestion, elimination... It is a key survival mechanism as well, stimulating the nervous system to react in case of danger either by arousing the body into action or shutting down if action isn't possible.

In 2012, Stephen Porges developed "Polyvagal Theory"—a groundbreaking way of understanding how the vagus nerve works. He and Deborah Dana describe automatic vagal responses as a hierarchy—not the simple back and forth shift from rest/digest to fight/flight/freeze. Here is a link to a presentation by Deb Dana.

Understanding how the vagus nerve works is a first step toward "reprogramming" it so that we are not triggered into automatic reactions. Instead, we can learn to expand the energetic container of the body so that we can hold difficult emotions rather than get triggered by them.

44 views2 comments


Sep 01, 2022

Thanks so much for re-introducing this essential topic to my radar screen. I've blocked out some time to look at Deb Dana's presentation later today. I thought you'd find the article from Dr David Jockers of interest: Would love to hear your thoughts. Looking forward to following your newsletter, musings and discoveries!

Sep 01, 2022
Replying to

Turns out the link to Deb Dana's presentation is inactive. I did, though, find an excellent, insightful interview at

bottom of page