As a man have you ever been in a physical altercation… school sports do not count… where you knew there was a good chance you were going to get punched?
If yes… do you remember the butterflies in your stomach right before the fists started flying?
When was the last time you “experienced” a twisting in the pit of your stomach? Or were just flat out feeling the old “fight or flight” response as you were getting chewed out by the boss?
Your gut doesn’t lie.
You might want it to… but it won’t… your scared and you feel out of control.
You think to yourself, “Don’t panic!”
But it’s too late… you are in panic mode already, and you’re not so much afraid of getting punched in the face, (that very, very, rarely happens) as much as you are afraid of being embarrassed if people find out how nervous you are because you might screw up.
“Aaagh! What do I do?”
Being a man entails understanding the many facets of being a man.
One of those facets is understanding human biology.
In this instance… learning and understanding “what causes” those killer butterflies in the first place, and understanding that there are specific actions you can be responsible for to alleviate those butterflies.
The Samurai, of ancient Japan, believed the soul resided in the abdomen, just below the sternum, in boxing, and old A.W.A Wrestling terms… “the old solar-plexus.” It is why they opened the abdomen in ritual suicide after losing their honor. The last, and ultimate… emotional release.
But before we get to the point of getting our heads taken off… can we figure out how to defeat those killer butterflies?
Getting punched in the gut can cause you to have the wind knocked out of you, I never really understood that… I thought they literally blasted all the air out of your lungs… but what really happened is that they messed up the operation of your vagus nerve bundle that is responsible for the autonomous action of the diaphragm.
“Wait a minute Dave, what was that? What is a vagus nerve?”
Well let’s take a look at it.
It is a 5 pronged nerve bundle with 4 branches coming down from the brain meandering through the body, like a lazy country road, and with 1 branch connected at the “gut” or visceral nerve bundle around the abdomen, and running straight up through to the brain… thereby creating a nerve loop… with neurological info flowing from… and here’s the critical part… directly TO the brain.
When the vagus nerve is disrupted… like with a straight right to that solar plexus… or when you have a public speaking engagement… you could have the wind knocked out of you, but the first “visceral reaction” we have is one of “getting butterflies” in our stomach.
What is that movie, where they say, “if a butterfly flaps it’s wings on one side of the world there is a tsunami on the other side of the world.” In our instance our insides feel like a tsunami of emotion, embarrassment, shame and guilt all at once… with a dash of straight up fear for good measure… like red Tabasco sauce on a plate of white eggs.
The good thing is… you can talk to your vagus nerve… too weird for ya? Ok, think about it as talking to yourself.
This isn’t goofy self help positivity talk, but real, in your face dialogue… utilizing the body to talk to your brain…instead of trying to use your brain to talk to your brain.
In sports there is the basic principle of, “get your opponent to move his feet, and his head will follow,” our minds are no different, and in this instance if we “move our feet” our opponent… our own mind… will have to follow. There are some physical thought interrupters that we can use to develop our vagus nerve and it’s reactions from visceral to thoughtful.
Stress is the culprit that most interferes with the vagus nerve.
New experiences, strange surroundings, a new job, a pretty girl… can all put the killer butterflies into attack mode.
The top tactic is to use cold water immersion training to affect the vagus nerve in a positive fashion.
Also, consistent strength training, running, deep breathing techniques as used in yoga, and walks that last longer than twenty minutes.
These all get the vagus nerve back on track, allowing it to release calming neurotransmitters back to the brain, in effect, telling the brain and mind, “Hey! Knock it off. This isn’t an attack of killer butterflies, or lions… it’s a PTA meeting for crying out loud. So just settle down!”
The science, and my personal experience thus far, using strength training, deep breathing, and straight talk, in affecting my vagus nerve and it’s penchant for releasing the hounds, (I mean the killer butterflies) has been very pronounced, in a very positive way.
It only takes a few moments… now… to recognize the butterfly horde, then using deep breathing and self talk to break up the swarm, and then get back to the task at hand… knowing, trusting, and depending on my preparation to win the day, and defeat the butterfly horde that is amassing on the horizon of the pit of my stomach.