Hacking the Autonomic Nervous System

Part 1: 3 Clips from my memory


The 30 meter sailing ketch is turning into the narrow fishing harbour on the Danish coast, through two 90-degree angles, speeding up. WTF??!?!!!

I see the pier full with fishing boats before us, just a couple of boat lengths from our stem. My whole system is electrified as I realize the situation - the reversal of the prop has gone, no way to slow down the boat in time. In an instant, I jump down 1.5 meters into the engine room to find the accelerator cable and put the engine out. Pull myself up on deck again and grab the wheel. Steer her right into the meter of pier just between two cutters where she is stopped with a crash moderated by the cutters' mooring lines across her bow.

While writing this story from my memory, I feel the tingling sensation on my skin again, the tension and alertness throughout the whole body, the superpower you get when you need to fend off a catastrophe. It's the boost of the sympathetic, helping us to survive.


2. Climbing up to the mountain ridge in the storm we encountered on the windward side, a look down the yawning chasm and the impossible path while gusts throw me off balance, create a similar tingling and tension. This time, I have the choice to turn back, somewhat disappointed but safe thanks to my somatic signals of threat.

3. While giving myself into following some confusing gut feelings, focusing, breathing, repeating, amplifying, never stopping my breath, this tingling, muscle tension, twitching, convulsion... led to a catharsis, to processing, emptiness, and finally to peace. It was a guided session in "Rebirthing".

Breath is an essential part in regulating our autonomic responses. Breathing can bring you in contact with our body and feelings, or disassociate you from them. The electrified alertness helps you when you are in charge, but it will feel like anxiety and panic when you're not.

In this series of articles I'll explore and break down different ways to consciously trigger certain autonomic states: to boost your performance, to change habits, to find balance and peace in life. Being a META-Health buff, I'll also draw the connections to the bio-psycho-logical keys.

The first ones are:

Bio-Hacks with the Iceman

CO2 – against Death Fright and the Fear of Suffocation

Pictures by steven underhill and ASchuehlein from Pixabay