It's all about resiliency: Go to your heart!
This is the sixth in a series of articles discussing various aspects of stress and how we can learn to bounce back from stressful occurrences. In an earlier article I wrote about the importance of breathing and how it works to activate the body’s relaxation mechanism.
Instead of a coffee break, invite yourself for a mini "heart" break regularly during the day. Start your day with one and end with one before going to sleep. Use your mobile phone to remind you to go to your heart throughout the day.
Find different cues to help trigger doing the exercise, such as turning your computer on, drinking a cup of coffee, or brushing your teeth - something that you do every day, preferably more than once a day.
A gift of wellbeing and vitality
Since emotionally charged situations can be huge energy drainers, the sooner you can calm yourself down, the more energy you’ll have. Imagine the energy you’ll save if you don’t get so upset or worried in the first place, knowing you can handle the situation more calmly.
You’ll also be in a state of mind that allows you to make better, more supportive choices and decisions for yourself. The toxic effects of stress won’t be able to take their toll on you either.
Though this exercise can be done anywhere, anytime, when you first start practicing I recommend that you close your eyes. Closing your eyes helps to eliminate the distractions from your surroundings. It helps you to bring awareness to yourself, something we don’t do often enough.
Make sure you are in a safe place (not driving the car, for example!) when you start practicing. As you become proficient at this exercise, you will be able to do it with your eyes open, in a meeting, during a troubling conversation, driving a car, at the doctor’s office...
Well, actually, you may be visiting the doctor less often once you’ve become a master practitioner of heart coherency techniques. "Up to 90% of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention."
The Quick Coherence Technique by HeartMath
(explanation adapted from the book Transforming Stress by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman Ph.D)
› Heart Focus
Bring your focus gently to your heart area. If you find this difficult at first, then try this: focus your attention on wiggling your big toe, then move your focus to your elbow, and then to the area in the center of your chest.
It may help to put your hand over your heart area in the center of your chest. As you do this, slow and deepen your breathing.
By bringing your focus to this area you are taking the focus away from all the incessant thoughts mulling around in your head. If your mind wanders (and it probably will in the beginning), just let your thoughts go and bring your focus back to your heart area.
› Heart Breathing
As you continue to breathe in slower and deeper (to a count of 4 - 6 seconds) and out (to a count of 4 - 6 seconds) with your focus on your heart area, imagine that you’re breathing in and out of your heart area. Allow your breath to flow gently. Continue to breathe with ease until you find a rhythm that feels good to you.
› Heart Feeling
Continue to breathe through the area of the heart and as you do, activate a "feel good feeling" of gratitude, appreciation, or care. It helps to prepare for this step ahead of time so that you can more easily activate the feeling. Think of a person, place, or thing that arouses such a feeling in you.
This may be challenging at first. If it is, then find a sincere attitude for one of these feelings.
Maintain this feeling or attitude while continuing to breathe in and out of your heart area. You can also imagine you’re breathing this feeling or attitude in and out of your heart.
After practicing this regularly you’ll feel calmer either entering into situations which may be challenging or after having just experienced one.
Your heart will love you for it!