We all have those moments when anxiety, overwhelm, or activation take hold, making us feel less than our best. The VU technique is a vocalization tool that can help you find calm in the midst of chaos in these moments. This practice finds its roots in the pioneering work of Peter Levine, a renowned expert in trauma healing and founder of Somatic Experiencing. Let’s explore the tool together as I share how this technique can support nervous system regulation. So, find a comfortable seat, take a moment to settle in, and let’s explore the VU technique together.

Getting Started with the VU Technique

Pay attention to how your body responds to this simple practice. You might notice tingling sensations or a sense of aliveness. If you happen to be trying this technique when you are triggered or feel anxious, observe if there are any subtle shifts. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a major transformation; small incremental changes can pave the way for larger transformations in the long run.

Step by step

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable position.
  • Place your attention on your body, breath, emotions, and thoughts. Take note of any tension or discomfort that is present.
  • Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, say the word “VU” out loud.
  • Let your breath and the sound of “VU” resonate within you, feeling the vibration in your stomach and heart.
  • Allow your exhale to be slow and smooth. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, so if you feel self-conscious, just let out a little chuckle and continue.
  • Continue to breathe in and exhale with the sound of “vu” until you feel a sense of calm in your whole being.
  • Place your attention on your body, breath, emotions, and thoughts again. Notice any change that took place.
  • Repeat this practice whenever you feel a need to calm your anxiety, overwhelm, or overall agitation.

The VU Technique, the Vagus Nerve and Your Nervous System

Now, let’s delve into what makes this technique so supportive. When we create sounds like ‘Vu,’ ‘Uh,’ ‘Ah,’ ‘Mm,’ or ‘Oh,’ we’re essentially tapping into a part of our body’s system that’s closely linked to the vagus nerve.

Anxiety, triggers, and impulsive reactions often arise as a response to perceived threats, triggering our sympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ mode. This natural response can leave us feeling on edge, stressed, and overwhelmed. Some people may also respond with appeasement or fawning behaviors, which are associated with the dorsal vagal parasympathetic system.

The VU Technique, while seemingly brief, is a powerful way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ mode. This includes the ventral vagal parasympathetic system, which promotes relaxation and social engagement.

The vagus nerve

The vagus nerve is like a calming conductor in our body, influencing our heart rate, digestion, and overall relaxation. It plays a pivotal role in regulating our body’s responses. When it’s well-developed, it sends signals to our nervous system that there’s no immediate threat. This, in turn, eases feelings of anxiety and calms our system.

In simpler terms, think of the vagus nerve as your body’s built-in stress relief system. When we make these soothing sounds, we’re essentially giving a gentle nudge to this nerve, prompting it to send calming signals throughout our body. It’s like a natural relaxation technique that you can use whenever you need to find ease and calmness.


Rear view of curly-haired woman sitting with crossed legs on grass and meditating in silence by tranquil lake - trauma triggers

The VU Technique and Building Resilience

With regular practice of the VU Technique, you can build a resource bank within yourself that supports both the ventral and dorsal vagal parasympathetic systems. Each time you engage in this practice, you strengthen your nervous system’s ability to respond to stressors with greater ease and resilience. Over time, you’ll find that you’re better equipped to navigate life’s challenges while maintaining a sense of inner calm and balanced responses.

If you’d like to see a visual demonstration of the VU Technique and learn more about its benefits, I invite you to watch my video on this calming practice. Simply click here to access the video. I hope you find it helpful on your journey to ease and well-being. Please feel free to sign up for a discovery session here for more personalized support.

Angela Luna, LMFT, is a seasoned holistic expressive arts therapist, trauma specialist and creative wellness coach who uses an integrative approach to support clients in transforming old patterns into new possibilities. If you’re ready to access your joy and well-being, sign up now for a free discovery consult with her here.

Find more

Find out more about the VU technique and other somatic and trauma-related tools and resources with these organizations and leaders in the field.

  • Somatic Experiencing International provides training and resources related to Somatic Experiencing, a body-oriented approach to healing trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. This organization is a key resource for understanding and applying techniques to address and heal trauma.
  • The Polyvagal Institute explores and applies the principles of Polyvagal Theory, which elucidates how the vagus nerve influences human behavior, emotions, and social connections. This resource is invaluable for those interested in understanding the science behind how vocalization techniques like the VU method affect the nervous system.
  • The Trauma Center provides trauma-informed care and services and is a leader in research and education on trauma. They offer insights into various therapeutic techniques for trauma recovery, including those that engage the body and the nervous system, supporting the foundational concepts of the VU technique.
Outdoor portrait of beautiful smiling woman in sunlight. Smiling relaxing woman with boho hippie hair style. - trauma triggers

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