Our ears not only help us hear, but they also help us stay balanced on our feet. The inner ear, called the vestibular system, helps detect our motion and maintains balance when we spin around in a circle, go on a roller coaster ride, walk, run, dance, or perform gymnastics or acrobatics.
It's not a pleasant feeling when you suddenly stop, as many of us will remember from childhood when we spun around in a circle and collapsed on the ground afterward. But why do we get dizzy at all?
One of the fundamental laws of physics is the law of inertia which states that a body will resist any change to its state of motion until an external force is applied to it. In other words, it will remain in motion unless it is forced to stop or stay at rest unless it is forced to move. We get dizzy due to the law of inertia and the way the vestibular system in our ears communicates with our brains to keep us balanced.
Inside your inner ear, past the eardrum, lie three semicircular canals that detect motion (up and down, side to side, and roll). These canals are lined with millions of extremely tiny strands of hair connected to nerve cells. As you move, two layers of thick gelatinous fluid inside the canals slosh around the ear canals.
Like plants moving in water, the movement of this fluid makes the hairs move back and forth, which transmits that information to the brain via nerve cells - I’m moving forward; I’m moving sideways, etc. This is what gives your body a sense of balance.
Once you stop moving, the fluid stops moving, so the hairs no longer pick up movement, and the message to the brain stops. If you are spinning really quickly, however, the spinning fluid takes some time (the law of inertia) to stop moving, and the hairs keep sending signals to the brain, “I’m moving.” At the same time, your body knows it isn’t moving, and the result is a temporary feeling of dizziness.
The good news is that the more you practice spinning, you will adjust to the stimulation and become less susceptible over time. Figure skaters also start out slow, beginning with low rotations and then gradually working themselves up. They continually expose themselves to dizzying conditions, teaching their brains to get used to the feeling. This reduces the negative effects and skaters recover quicker from dizziness than the rest of us.
So, when you begin doing Rite No 1, make sure you only do what spins you can do before feeling dizzy and then stop. Then, continue to do the other four Rites, building up repetitions as recommended by the monks, until you eventually catch up with your spins over time.
Learn tips and natural remedies for avoiding dizziness and desensitizing exercises to improve your spinning as well as help with motion sickness.
Some other factors that can cause dizziness
- Circulation disorders are the most common cause of dizziness—low blood pressure, heart problems, low blood sugar, etc.
- Ear infection, allergies.
- Head injury, migraine.
- Nervous system disorders, emotional distress, pain.
- Rapid breathing or not breathing enough.
- Can increase with age.
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