the deep dive

the science behind webe kälm

Navigating the intricate science behind our nervous system's responses to external and internal stimuli can be complex. That's why we're guiding you through a real-life scenario to shed light on why you experience specific emotions and how you can gain control over your feelings.

from authors Dr. Matthew Lederman & Dr. Alona Pulde: Wellness to Wonderful

1 - baseline state

Our baseline state represents our unaltered condition before external influences come into play. People may exist along a spectrum of sensitivity, with some operating in a serene, composed manner while others exhibit heightened alertness. The nervous system plays a pivotal role, regulating both our internal and external physiological responses to perceived or actual stimuli, functioning at a baseline of either tranquility or anxiety.

When embarking on a walk in the woods, your baseline state significantly impacts your capacity to manage potentially frightening situations. If your baseline state is marked by serenity, you possess greater resilience to contend with any fear-inducing encounters compared to someone whose baseline state is characterized by heightened stress.

the deep dive

What most people don’t realize is that our baseline state is mobilization. This differs from a more common, yet erroneous, thought that our baseline is a state of calm and we mobilize when we feel threatened. The reality is that being in a constant state of mobilization is a survival advantage. This allows us to always be ready to fight or flee from a threat. We are wired to assume danger until safety is established. Otherwise, the seconds it might take to activate fight‐or‐flight could mean the difference between life and death. Imagine seeing the tiger coming toward you. It is not hard to understand the advantage of just running versus having to shift from calm to preparing to run.

To leave our baseline mobilized state, we need to actively turn on a sense of safety. What is our “safety brake?” How do we slow down or tell our baseline mobilized nervous system to calm down and take a break? Through perceived messages of safety experienced in our environ‐ ment. This process is called neuroception, a term coined by Dr. Stephen Porges to emphasize that our nervous system must actually experience the perception. We cannot just think we are safe; instead, we must give our body the felt sense that it is safe (as accurately perceiving whether one is safe or in danger could be a matter of life or death, it is too important to trust our thoughts alone).

Once you understand that our default is to be mobilized in preparation for threat and we have to practice and strengthen the “muscle” to engage calm, then it becomes more clear why using and practicing with the webe kälm can be so helpful. One of the most powerful ways we can actively turn on calm, apply our “safety break,” and send messages of calm to our nervous system (aka neuroception) is through our breathing. 

2- Polyvagal Theory: A Science of Safety

Merely contemplating an encounter with a bear as you begin your walk through the woods can trigger an increase in your heart rate. Whether the bear poses a genuine threat or is entirely benign, our internal thoughts have the capacity to activate our nervous system, plunging it into a state of perceived danger. We can’t turn it on at will, nor can we turn it off at will.

the deep dive

Polyvagal theory explains how many different organs in the body are connected by the large vagus nerve (a cranial nerve starting in the brain and affecting many organs, including the heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines) and are affected by how we feel as well as our perception of the world around us. The vagus nerve and the various nuclei within it support two different physiological states in our body: the state of safety and the state of danger or threat. When in the physiological state of threat or high alert, we become hypervigilant and prepare all systems to fight the perceived danger. This cascade of changes happens in the body to increase the chances that we will survive whatever we believe is threatening us. For example, we halt cellular “housekeeping” activities (such as those removing mutated cells that can turn into cancer) to shift resources towards threat neutralization, our heart beats faster (to pump more blood wherever fuel is most needed), we shunt blood towards our extremities (to power our arms to fight and legs to flee) and hindbrain (to defend by reacting immediately, as opposed to thinking and analyzing), our cells secrete proinflammatory cytokines (to prepare for tissue damage in response to the threat), we secrete adrenaline, cortisol, and histamine into our bloodstream (to further support the body to be able to fight or flee), and there are even changes in the muscles in our body such as the middle ear (to better hear certain sounds consistent with threat or harm) and muscles in our larynx (so that our voices can signal threat to others). These are just a few of the many changes our body undergoes to prepare to fight the tiger, bear, or whatever it believes is threatening our life. The threat response lives within us as a subconscious survival mechanism. We can’t turn it on at will, nor can we turn it off at will.

3 - perceived vs. real threats

Imagine this scenario: You've just come across a bear in the woods. Your nervous system can shift into high gear, whether or not the bear truly poses a threat, simply because you perceive it as such. In reality, the bear you've encountered is entirely benign and is merely going about its business in the forest. Nevertheless, the mere thought of a potentially agitated bear can send our heart rate soaring and put our body on high alert.

the deep dive

It is important to note that our body reacts to a “perceived” threat as it does to a “real” threat. In other words, a child being told they have to go to bed or a sibling snatching their toy will react in that moment as though they are under threat. And when under threat they will engage all of the changes above as if they were preparing to fight a tiger. As parents, it is helpful to understand how a threat to needs not being met is experienced physiologically in the body the same way whether it is a threat to needs for play and autonomy (being told to go to sleep or a sibling snatching their toy) or a threat to need for safety (being faced with a tiger in front of them). As adults, most of us learn to differentiate our responses to the different threats and regulate our bodies accordingly.

4- sympathetic nervous system

Now, picture this: You come face to face with an agitated bear. Your physiological and internal reactions can throw your body into disarray, causing your heart rate to skyrocket. This intense response is entirely natural, and in such a situation, there's little you can do to control it.

the deep dive

So how does this system work? We often hear people talk about our sympathetic nervous system (which mediates our survival response), or the fight‐or‐flight response. These are essentially the same thing: our body trying to protect us from danger. We have two survival states to deal with danger. Our more preferred, or more developed, state to fight off danger is to mobilize and fight or flee. This must be done in short bursts because, after a period of time, we will run out of energy to remain mobilized. The other state, which can happen when we see that mobilization is not working or we are facing imminent death, is immobilization. This freeze/faint response is a more primitive state of defense and is our body’s last attempt to save resources or, at the very least, dissociate if we are about to be killed. This immobilization state is frequently experienced by trauma victims who will say that they can’t remember what happened or they did nothing to defend themselves. This was not because they were weak or didn’t care; rather, it was because their nervous system put them into a defensive posture of immobilization in a last‐ditch effort to try to help them survive.

5 - bidirectional

Despite your heart rate soaring and your body feeling completely off-kilter, you can take the first step to regain balance by consciously striving for calmness. Mentally focusing on a state of calm can alleviate the stress your body is experiencing. The subsequent step involves activating your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the very reason why we developed Webe Kalm. While we understand the importance of breathing, concentration, and calming techniques, there are limited tools available to assist children in achieving this.

the deep dive

The beauty of our nervous system is that it works in a bidirectional fashion. In other words, we can feel safe inside and as a result breathe more fully and slowly or we can breathe more fully and slowly and then, as a result of that, start to feel safe inside. Breathing helps us feel safe, and feeling safe helps us connect. We can feel happy and, as a result, smile—or we can smile and actually start to feel happy inside as a result. If you want to experience regulation of the body and nervous system as much as possible, you can “stack your deck” towards safety so that your nervous system can easily and effectively apply your “safety brake,” and effortlessly enter into a pro‐social, anti‐inflammatory state that supports your ability to not only rest, digest, heal, and reproduce, but also experience joy, satisfaction, and a state of wellbeing.

It is in this state of safety that our body shifts our physiology from supporting fighting, fleeing, freezing, or fainting (types of threat responses to perceived danger) to supporting the processes of resting, digesting, healing, and reproducing (all of which can happen only when we are in a state of perceived safety). Organs involved in resting, digestion, healing, and reproduction require a steady stream of “you are safe” messaging (flowing through our vagus nerve as part of our autonomic nervous system) to be able to optimally function. For example, your gastrointestinal system requires a steady stream of “you are safe” messaging for the gut to function normally. In threat mode, safety messages are shut off to optimize our chances of survival. Resources shift from the gut to our extremities, heart, and lungs. These are the areas that will help us fight harder or flee faster. As such, most people with chronic gut‐related issues, for example, will not only benefit from significant dietary intervention but will also often have an excessive level of chronic mobilization compounding the picture. The good news is that using the webe kälm can stimulate a state of calm in the body and provide not only regulation and calming in the moment but also the additional health benefits of living in a physiological state of safety for as much of your time as possible.

Whether your child is having trouble calming down to sleep, do homework, or stop a tantrum, they are in the same mobilized, fight/flight, high alert physiological state. The only thing that can help them is to activate their “safety brake” stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and regulate their bodies.

6 - enter webe kälm

There are 4 pathways that when using the webe kälm as directed will help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to generate a sense of inner peace and calm in the body. They are controlled breathing with extended exhalation, visual focus, auditory regulation, and co-regulation. While each helps calm the nervous system independently, the combination of all 4 proves most effective in achieving quick and lasting results.

To understand how it works visit our page on how it works.

To read the scientific sources for how the parasympathetic nervous system works scroll down. We have compiled a list of sources for your reference.

the deep - deep dive


7 - Slow breathing with extended exhalation:

The first calming pathway creates an immediate soothing effect experienced through slow extended exhalation into the mouthpiece.

8 - Focused attention mindfulness:

Next, there is research showing that quieting our minds activates our parasympathetic nervous system, can be extremely regulating in the moment as well as enhance our strategies to effectively cope and handle a challenge or obstacle. Through practiced regulation of our emotions we can approach an experience with calm and resource. With the webe kälm we employ visual focus on keeping the ball aloft to generate mindfulness in moments of upset as well as moments of practice so that we are prepared for moments of upset.

9 - White Noise:

Thirdly, with each exhalation, “white noise” is created in the chamber of the webe kälm further enhancing the calming experience.

10 - Co-Regulation:

In addition to the 3 internal pathways activated there is a 4th pathway, co-regulation, that the webe kälm employs to support nervous system regulation and calming. All of us naturally feel secure and flourish when we are surrounded by others in a nurturing environment. Co-regulation, the act of working together as a community to find calmness, is the 4th pathway. When introducing webe kälm, it is crucial for adults to engage in co-regulation with the child, rather than resorting to yelling and commanding them to "Calm Down!" In times of distress, it is through togetherness that we can tap into this pathway and discover tranquility. By uplifting and supporting one another with the powerful tool of webe kälm during challenging moments, we can harmonize all four pathways and embark on a journey of shared calmness. 

11 - Proactive vs. Reactive use

Using webe kälm effectively involves two approaches: reactive use and proactive use. Reactive use is like taking medicine for a headache when you've already got one—it helps in the moment but doesn't prevent future issues. Proactive use is about incorporating webe kälm into your routine to prevent or reduce future stressors, like maintaining a healthy lifestyle to avoid headaches. Use webe kälm regularly throughout the day (when you wake up, before meals, and before bedtime) to build a calm "savings account." This way, your body becomes adept at returning to a state of calm, much like driving to a familiar place with ease. Consistent proactive use turns your body into a finely tuned calming machine, ensuring you have a reserve of calmness whenever you need it.