Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Autopilot

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – Why Your Body Knows Best

The autonomic nervous system is your body’s auto-pilot.

  • Can you imagine organising your body to digest a sandwich?
  • Or managing how much to pee today?
  • What about controlling how much your pupils dilate when you step outside?

In other words, these are all examples of processes going on inside you. Processes that you have no conscious control over.

Janet Sobel Milky Way 1945 – Could staring at this artwork affect your physiology?

In the same vein, could this hidden system be why abstract paintings like Sobel’s (above) are pleasing to us??

That is to say, whilst your mind struggles to make sense of the image, your body tells a different story. For instance, your heart rate is dropping… your breathing slows…tension starts to let go. We could say that your body is at peace with certain patterns.

โ€œI think that one of the most important things about Pollock’s work is that it isn’t so much what you’re looking at but it’s what is happening to you as you’re looking at his particular workโ€ (Bragg, 1987)

Autonomic Nervous System & the Breath

Is it weird to think there’s so much wisdom in our body that we know nothing about?

One way we can connect with this wisdom is through the breath. The breath is like a magic key that unlocks the mysterious world inside the body!

At some point, I’ll eventually finish my e-book about my journey with the breath. Breath – from complete stranger to new best friend; How I used yogic breathing practices to find peace and non-familiar states of consciousness and how you can too!

It’s a project I’ve been working on for some time…but it keeps morphing into something bigger…and hopefully something even more powerful for those starting out or curious about breathing as a practice.

Smile though your heart is slowing

Yogis have known for some time that breathing can affect a whole cascade of processes in the body.

Y๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ท๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜บ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ?

Duchenne Smiles are considered a more genuine smile – the whole face is involved.

Well, a few things actuallyโ€ฆ

But one other thing isโ€ฆ ๐—ฆ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด!

The brain is an incredible ๐˜ผ๐™จ๐™จ๐™ค๐™˜๐™ž๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ-๐™ˆ๐™–๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ-๐™ˆ๐™–๐™˜๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š and the mind associates sensory feedback from a smile with positive, feel-good emotions. Smiling will influence heart-rate, respiration, and, itโ€™s been suggested, can even regulate brain blood temperature.

๐ผ๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”๐‘™๐‘ฆ, ๐ต๐‘œ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘ฅ ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘—๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘’๐‘› ๐‘ โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘ค๐‘› ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘š๐‘ฆ๐‘”๐‘‘๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘Ž (๐‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘’๐‘ฅ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘๐‘’๐‘‘).

๐Š๐ง๐จ๐ฐ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐’๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ž

Authentic Smile Vs Faking it?

A Duchenne ๐Ÿ˜Š (top photo) – also referred to as ๐™จ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™š๐™ฎ๐™š๐™จ – involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (raised cheeks and crowโ€™s feet around the ๐Ÿ‘€).

Iโ€™m not sure I would replace my breathing practice with a smiling practice just yet! But smiling if you’re stuck in traffic who during a tough workout may just help you take the edge off your stress levels.

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