Research + Benefits + Techniques

Benefits of ECORegulative vagal maneuvers include :

greater vagal tone, increased Heart Rate Variability, improving decision making {

reducing stress, anxiety, anger, and inflammation by activating the “relaxation response” of parasympathetic nervous system

superior executive functioning, wiser reasoning {}

Those with higher vagal tone have better overall heart health, lower levels of inflammation, stronger social bonds, and tend to exhibit better emotion regulation. { }

Increased sense of Flow, finding flow states with greater ease and frequency

high vagal tone is correlated with better emotion regulation, less egocentric-bias, higher levels of empathy, and closer-knit human bonds. 

For partnered exercises : 

regularly activating the “tend-and-befriend” aspects of the parasympathetic nervous system improves vagal tone and creates an upward spiral of prosocial behaviors that are contagious. 




Nervous system regulation techniques incorporated into ECORegulation : 

Breathing techniques including : slower respiration rates, 

longer exhalation than inhalation {outbreath > inbreath}, 

sound / vibration on the outbreath, 

shifting locus of respiration from thorax to abdomen (diaphragmatic breathing) { citation : }, 

Vibration :

rocking the body back and forth, 

Expressive Arts :

Narrative expressive writing for 20 minutes a day {structure narrative, making meaning of the experience, processing feelings in an adaptive way, coherent and organized, storyline arc with a beginning, middle, and end} {citation :


New research from the University of Arizona reports that just 20 minutes of “narrative expressive writing” over a three day period can trigger a physiological chain reaction that was found to improve heart rate variability (HRV), which is the measurement of variations within beat-to-beat intervals and indicates cardiovascular health. {}

In 2016, Igor Grossmann and colleagues from the University of Waterloo published a paper, “A Heart and A Mind: Self-distancing Facilitates the Association Between Heart Rate Variability and Wise Reasoning,” which reaffirmed that vagal tone (indexed via HRV) was associated with superior executive functioning and wiser reasoning. Grossmann et al. hypothesize that adopting a self-distanced (as opposed to a self-immersed) perspective (which is achieved by narrative expressive writing) is correlated with higher HRV along with the ability to overcome bias-promoting egocentric impulses and to reason more wisely.



Orientation : 

Self-distancing as opposed to self-immersed {

Theatrix :

Gutsy third person self-talk

Visualizations / Meditations :

Visualizing your vagus nerve talking to it in in the third person

Sending loving kindness { }

sending loving-kindness towards oneself and towards others—including loved ones…but also rivals, enemies, a nemesis, or anyone you hold a grudge against

Compassion meditations


Lastly, a 2015 paper by Dacher Keltner and colleagues summarizes four different studies on “Affective and physiological responses to the suffering of others: Compassion and vagal activity.” Keltner et al. concluded, “Compassion is associated with activation in the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system through the vagus nerve…Compassion, a core affective component of empathy and prosociality, is associated with heightened parasympathetic activity.”



In 1995, Lang published a landmark study, “The Emotion Probe: Studies of Motivation and Attention.” For this research, Lang used an emotionally based picture library to monitor various degrees of valence (agreeable/pleasant or aversive/unpleasant) and emotional arousal.

Lang’s findings provide some empirical evidence which suggests that just about any stimuli that evokes positive valence and arousal (such as appreciating natural wonders, the arts, music, dance, etc.) can create a drug-free type of “ecstasy” that isn’t dependent on mastering a particular skill or becoming a Jedi Master of something. 


Activities that increase oxytocin also aid in regulation : 

In 2012, another interesting study on the “love hormone” by researchers from the University of Sydney identified a correlation between administering nasal oxytocin and increases in both social connectedness and heart rate variability (HRV).

Partnered exercises :

Face to face ‘tend and befriend’  :

“Lastly, in 2010, a landmark study by Bethany Kok and Barbara Fredrickson identified a correlation between feelings of social connectedness, parasympathetic activity, and positive emotions as indexed by robust vagal tone. The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The authors write,

“Adults who possessed higher initial levels of vagal tone (VT) increased in connectedness and positive emotions more rapidly than others. Furthermore, increases in connectedness and positive emotions predicted increases in VT, independent of initial VT level. This evidence is consistent with an “upward spiral” relationship of reciprocal causality, in which VT and psychosocial well-being reciprocally and prospectively predict one another.”

Hopefully, identifying the ability of excessive social media use to exacerbate feelings of perceived social isolation (as marked by a reduction in HRV and vagal tone) will serve as a reminder that you can create an upward spiral of positive emotions by “tending-and-befriending” others through face-to-face social interactions.



Benefits of micro-moments of connection throughout the day :

“For example, genuine wholehearted micro-moments of social connectedness between two individuals appeared to instantaneously trigger a parasympathetic (“tend-and-befriend”) response that improved vagal tone for both parties involved. The positive visceral and psychological feedback of these warm-hearted exchanges led people to expand social networks in a way that spread positive emotions and prosocial behaviors. From an evolutionary standpoint, one could speculate that this biological response became hardwired as part of a survival mechanism that nurtured cooperative human bonds and alliances that benefitted both the individual and the collective”