Calm Brain: Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System by Gayatri Devi

Kristen Sparrow • July 11, 2012

longevity23-150x150A patient told me about this book.  I was intrigued by the premise, part of which is that if you calm the body, you calm the mind, this is very much in accordance with Chinese Medical theory.  In Chinese Medicine, in addition to lifestyle tweaks, the way to calm the spirit is through the various “spirits” of the organs through the  acupuncture meridians.
I”m still making my way through it but was interested in her summation of HRV (heart rate variability, subject of my research).  I try to explain to patients that all I’m doing is getting a pulse tracing.  It’s all in the analysis. Devi:
“Is it possible to know what your basal vagal activity is?  Measuring your vagal tone is not a simple task like checking your pulse.  It is not expressed as a number, rather is is the measure of how responsive your vagus is to changes in the environment and how quickly it can restore your body and brain to a resting , calm state after a perturbation. Vagal tone is assessed in research settings by recording the electrocardiogram and then measuring the variation in heartbeat with breathing…
This Heart Rate Variability, is what I’m measuring in the clinic after placing acupuncture needles, a “perturbation”, albeit a subtle one, of the system.
Devi goes on
Meditation in any form–with rosary beads, through yoga, by reciting incantations, or practicing traditional Buddhist techniques–ultimately achieves calm by increasing vagal activity.  In creased vagal activity turns down the alerting adrenaline-driven sympathetic system and the frontal lobes, creating n internal state of calm…  Maximum vagal activity occurs when you take 6 breaths a minute. At that measure, the brain is most “at peace.”
I like to keep things simple.  So 6 breaths/ minute.  I would think you’d want to calm yourself enough so the result is 6 breaths/ minute, not impose that on oneself.  More of a symptom than a goal.