Sometimes all it takes is a tiny change to boost your happiness, like making a small investment in an eye pillow. This simple item may be one of our most powerful healing tools, especially when it comes to a balanced nervous system. Your vagus nerve is one of twelve cranial nerves that originates in the brain, travels down the back of the neck and into the chest and heart, and then moves down into the abdomen and digestive tract.
Light pressure on the eyeballs lowers heart rate, sometimes by quite a bit, by eliciting what’s called the oculocardiac reflex. It also stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve has an extensive resume - it regulates heart rate and digestion, and it’s the primary medium through which our belly brain regulates mood. It’s the main communicator to our rest-and-digest system, which helps us to relax more deeply. It also elicits our tend-and-befriend system, enabling us to reach out and connect with others. This is a critical factor in long-term stress resilience and, research shows, in happiness.
One quick way to stimulate your vagus nerve is through using an eye pillow, which place light pressure on the eyeballs. Eye pillows are filled with either flax seed or rice, and add a delicious weight to the eye area, moulding to it perfectly.
So, when can you use an eye pillow? Well try one (or more) of the following:
- Put one over your eyes or on your forehead when you lay down to sleep. This will help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep throughout the night.
- Use one at the end of your yoga practice during Savasana (final relaxation pose) for ultra relaxation.
- Pair it with your restorative yoga practice to deepen embodiment.
- Anytime you feel anxious, depressed, or stressed and can use a quick pick-me-up or more grounding.
- You can also out your eye pillow in the fridge, which can be heavenly on a hot day.
The humble eye pillow, simple yet so effective. A brilliant addition to your happiness toolkit!