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Moving out of your head and into your heart

By Danielle Medrano

StressWe’ve all heard how powerful our brains are. Our hearts, just like our brains, produce a powerful electromagnetic field that can be measured on an electrocardiogram (ECG). However, in a match-up between the two, did you know that the heart is 60 times more powerful than the brain? According to the Institute of HeartMath (IHM), an organization dedicated to helping people reduce stress, the heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body and can be measured from several feet away. 

Furthermore, IHM’s researchers have conducted numerous studies that confirm a connection between the heart and emotions; and our hearts receive benefits when influenced by positive emotions. Therefore, paying attention to how we feel is more important than ever, and every day presents an opportunity to practice. 

Speaker Arielle Ford refers to this as “feelingization” – getting your feelings in sync with your heart. 

One of the many benefits of meditation is to quiet our constantly thinking mind, the cause of our stressful thoughts, and allow ourselves to experience peace without mind. But, we can reap the same benefits as meditation “on the go” as we weave through the many tasks of our busy lives.

Here are a few quick and simple, yet powerful, tools to help move your thoughts out of your head and into your heart, balancing your emotions. The way to making any of these tools effective is to monitor how you feel and implement them in your moments of struggle.

“In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be.” 

– Roberta Sage Hamilton

The Institute of HeartMath offers a tool called The Quick Coherence Technique. I refer to it simply as HeartMath breathing. It involves three steps. Read through the instructions, then give it a try. Step One: Place one hand over your heart and focus your attention on this area. It might help to close your eyes if you’re in a safe place to do so. Step Two: Breathe deeply, but normally, as if your breath is coming in and going out through your chest. Continue breathing until you find a natural rhythm. Step Three: As you maintain your focus and breathing, activate a positive feeling by recalling a time when you felt good. This can involve bringing a loved one to mind, perhaps a pet, or remembering a special time in your life. Feel the love you have for another, or the love they have for you. Repeat these steps as often as necessary, focusing on your heart, your breath and then love. What’s great about this breathing technique is that it also incorporates imagery, and imagery is powerful in creating experiences in our lives.

2 Self-help pioneer, Louise Hay, offers a way to turn around negative feelings and get to the root cause by asking yourself one question in moments of angst, and that question is: “What am I believing to be true in this moment?” A client experiencing test anxiety answered this question, “I’m believing that if I don’t pass this test, I’ll never have a career in engineering” – quite a severe consequence for a college student. When asked if that were true, he responded, “Well, now that I think about it, no.” Sometimes holding our negative thoughts up to the light of truth, as in this case, is enough to make them dissipate. But, just to be sure, I like to pair this technique with a mantra to counter the negative belief. All you have to do is take the original answer, as irrational as it may sound now that it’s been voiced, and turn it into a positive statement or create one that serves you, for example, “I’ll pass this test and have an amazing career in chemical engineering!” or “I’ve worked hard in this class and I know the material well.” This technique can also be combined with HeartMath breathing, repeating your new mantra at the third step. If you remember the experience in which the negative belief was formed, you could apply the following tip. 

3 Ho’oponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice in forgiveness typically carried out by a kahuna, or healer. In the modern world, we can utilize this tool all by ourselves, without ever having to confront anyone. This method is carried out with four short phrases, repeated until reconciliation is felt. The statements are: I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you. I like to vary these expressions depending on the situation, as I don’t always remember them in this order or get the sentence structure correct. For example, after having my parking space “stolen” at Target, I caught myself feeling angry towards the other driver. Remembering the old saying that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, I used Ho’oponopono and in my mind repeated, “I forgive you. I’m sorry. I love you. Thank you.” Even if it sounds forced at first, stick with it. You can even apply this for deeper work by recalling a troublesome memory and repeating the process. It may have to be practiced at different times until all aspects of the memory have been addressed. You’ll know your work is complete when you can look at the entire memory without feeling any negative emotion.

Remember, there is no way to get these techniques wrong when you’re connecting with your heart. Overthinking how and when to apply them means you’re staying in your head. So, instead of trying to get it right, let go and allow yourself to experience the healing benefits of “feelingization.” 

Roberta Sage Hamilton’s quote continues, “What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts.”

Danielle Medrano is a performance consultant and founder of Mindful Management. She helps people mentally prepare for their best performances in high-pressure situations. For coaching or speaking engagements, please contact her at danielle@mindful-management.com.

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This Article appears on the June 2013 issue of LPM under Health

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