Synchronicity: Nostrils and Nervous Systems
"syn" + "chronos" -- "timed together"
Synchronicity is something I mean to write about regularly--weekly--on this blog. Events that happen "timed together," which also means "spaced together" which also means "in the eye of this beholder at this time together" are messages as subtle and emergent as the appearance of an eye in a peacock feather. Yes, I see it because I'm looking for it... but that's always true! What I see is a reflection of who I am. My belief is that the more aware we can be of the lenses through which we look and see, the more intentional we can be about the kind of world we experience.
I like today's synchronicity because not only does it involve a confluence of ancient wisdom and modern science; it has to do with something I already wrote about on this still-quite-new blog!
Last week, I shared about a Sufi meditation practice involving alternate-nostril breathing, and my experiences with it. The very day after I wrote that post, I listened to a "sneak preview" interview between Sean Croxton and Dr Alan Christianson, preparatory to Sean Croxton's beautifully produced telesummit "The Digestion Sessions" that's currently in session.
I've heard Dr Christianson many times before and almost didn't bother listening, because I thought I pretty much knew his spiel. He's a wonderful teacher for me, though, because on the one hand I find his laugh irritating, but on the other hand I'm in constant awe of his sweet sense of humor and his ability to bring lightheartedness to an arena that's often full of doom and gloom.
That high-pitched giggle: every time it's an opportunity for me to remember to focus on the positive "hand."
But why I'm really glad I tuned in, and blown away by synchronicity? He talked about alternate-nostril breathing! For real!
I mentioned we have one nostril dominating at any given time. He explained that one nostril is associated with the sympathetic nervous system pathway ("fight or flight") and the other with the parasympathetic ("rest and digest," or "tend and befriend"). Another interesting nuance he shared was that we can smell some odors by breathing them in deeply, whereas others we smell with a short, quick breath.
The long, deep breath correlates with the relaxation/parasympathetic, and the short, quick with the sympathetic. How aromatherapy might be used to stimulate relaxation (oxymoron! "induce relaxation"?) is a whole other interesting question.
But isn't that cool, that a modern functional medicine doctor is recommending alternate-nostril breathing to balance the body's nervous system pathways that moderate stress? And that I was exposed (exposed myself) to this at a time that I'd immersed myself in and written about the very practice?
The Digestion Sessions are going on right now. If you click on that link, it'll start trying to play a video (as is common nowadays)--ignore or pause, and you can sign up. Dr Christianson's talk is still to come, and another talk that I heard as "sneak preview" that's potentially a lifechanger for me is by Dr Datis Kharrazian, on the gut-brain axis.
NB I'm not an affiliate of this--I haven't figured out how to do things like that yet. I just think this particular health summit is really well done and contains great content, and I'd be remiss to share the story without a link!