A Reset(s) for a Happier Brain
Oct 15, 2023
And now, a guest article from Friend and OS Instructor, Sarah Young...
Your brain really likes to be free to float and flow.
So does your spinal cord.
And lucky for you, both swim in a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF creates an environment for float and flow.
CSF also acts as a shock absorber. It offers your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) cushioning protection during impact. This helps prevent injury to these important tissues.
CSF also allows your brain to hang out in your skull in neutral buoyancy. This effectively ‘lightens’ your brain so it doesn’t collapse under its own weight. This keeps your brain’s neurons and blood vessels from being crushed and smushed.
Another important thing CSF does is it provides the nourishment the brain needs to stay happy and healthy.
And last but not least, CSF helps to keep the brain clean by removing waste byproducts. This keeps your synapses from getting gunked up.
So, how can you press reset to help keep your CSF flowing optimally so your brain can relax and be refreshed in CSF fluid goodness?
You can breathe. Yes, breathe. It really is that simple.
Breathing is a prime pump for CSF.
Now, please know if you’re breathing high and tight in your chest, your breathing won’t be as good of a CSF pump as it could be. To get the most out of your CSF breathing pump, you need to breathe whole, low, and slow (diaphragmatically).
A simple way to do this is to place your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth and keep your mouth closed. Breathe in nasally, allowing the air to lightly spiral into your nose and down into the bottom of your lungs. It doesn’t have to be a big breath. Just a whole and easy breath. An unforced breath.
Once you’ve inhaled, simply exhale slowly through your nose. Allow your exhale to be soft, generous, and unforced.
After you’ve exhaled, your body will tell you when to breathe in again. Inhalation is a reflex. Listen for it and allow it to happen.
Repeat breathing whole, low, and slow for a few minutes. It will reset you and your CSF flow.
You might even do some humming. Humming creates space for the diaphragm to move more freely.
To add to the power of the breathing reset, you can combine it with another reset that also benefits CSF flow. This reset involves moving your head. Because when you move your head, it encourages CSF to flow.
But many of us don’t really move our heads that much. The demands of our days often require us to stare at screens. Some large. Some small. And that is compounded by screens also being a large component of leisure time for a lot of us.
As a result, our heads (and eyes) stay locked into a small range of movement expressions. This means our heads aren’t as helpful to CSF flow as they could be.
And just to be clear, I’m not trying to demonize technology. All I’m trying to say is that our heads (and our eyes) like to move in greater ranges of motion than screens generally require.
After all, our eyes and heads are designed to move.
So why not take some screen breaks throughout your day to set your head (and eyes) free to explore more of their movement design?
Every fifty minutes or so, just step away from the screens — or whatever has your head and eyes locked in — and just move your head for a few minutes. This will allow your CSF to flow.
It will also encourage blood flow in your neck muscles and engage your vestibular system. Add in some diaphragmatic breathing, and you just might find yourself relaxed and refreshed. It’s a win/win all around.
On these breaks, all you need to do is gently nod up and down and/or rotate your head left and right.
Allow your eyes to softly lead your head and allow your head to move unforced and with ease.
If you do this lying down or sitting in a chair, it might offer your head a bit more freedom to move.
So that’s it. Two easy ways to press reset to keep your brain happily floating and flowing in a continuous refresh of CSF.
Your brain deserves some happy. So does the rest of you.
Enjoy the happy flow.
Sarah Young, MS lives and works in Michigan. Her goal is to serve others in breathing better + moving better + feeling better — to help people feel more at home in their bodies and reclaim more of their untapped reserves of strength + resilience + health. She works with clients both in person and remotely. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contact her with any questions you may have.