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Updated on:

November 3, 2015
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‘Activating the Parasympathetic Wing of Your Nervous System’ is a worksheet that introduces us to various ways of initiating the body’s relaxation response. If you are wondering what the parasympathetic nervous system function is, it is the half of the nervous system responsible for our feelings of ease and tranquility. It helps us to rest and digest. Learning to activate it helps to mitigate the impact of chronic stress.

Parasympathetic Nervous System vs Sympathetic

On the other side of the parasympathetic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system response. Working in opposition to the parasympathetic wing, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) response helps us to fight, flee, or freeze when we encounter a threat. While this is a beneficial mechanism during times of imminent danger, it often functions on overdrive in the modern world. Thus, we are left feeling overstressed and depleted rather than full of vitality and energy.

Understanding the role of the parasympathetic nervous system vs sympathetic nervous system helps us to become more aware of what state we are functioning from in any given moment. When we start to notice what stress feels like in the body, we empower ourselves to shift the mind to bring ourselves to a more rested state.

Activating the Parasympathetic Wing

There are various ways to activate parasympathetic nervous system function. Belly breathing, progressive relaxation techniques, meditation, and the conscious direction of our attention to the positive helps us to feel more rested. The mind and body are inextricably connected, and so we have more control over the nervous system than we might believe.

It is important to remember that both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system functions are important. The sympathetic nervous system is not to be feared. Rather, it is important that we are mindful of it, letting it help us in times of danger and easing it when the fear we experience is a product of our mind. 

About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]