We are going through times of great change and awakening. As we navigate through these times we will be experiencing not only our own fear and anxiety, but that of the collective.
It is important for us to stay calm and centred. Being aware, without allowing yourself to get pulled into the fear mongering, will help to keep your stress levels down. Fearful thoughts and worry put stress on your body and are not serving you or your immune system.
A quick, simple tool to stay cool and calm
Here’s a quick and easy breathing technique, backed by scientific research, that you can practice at any time to help you stay calm and centered during the day – any time you notice your mind is running away with you:
1. Attention on your heart
Put your attention on your heart area. Start taking slow, deep breaths – in for 6 seconds and out for 6 seconds. Placing your hand over your heart will help you maintain your focus there.
2. 'Breathe' through your heart
Now, while breathing, imagine that you’re doing it through your heart. Picture yourself slowly breathing in and slowly breathing out through your heart area.
This deep, slow heart focused breathing technique is something you can do anytime and anywhere to instantly stimulate your vagus nerve and lower stress responses associated with "fight-or-flight" mechanisms that weaken your immune system.
The science behind heart focused breathing
Heart signals affect brain function
Ground breaking research conducted by the HeartMath Institute shows that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart and that these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function.
Different patterns of heart activity influence different emotional states and processing, as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
The effect of heart rhythm on your brain
During stress and negative emotions the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered. The corresponding pattern of neural signals travel from the heart to the brain, inhibiting higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions.
The heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes, reinforcing the emotional experience of stress.
Heart rhythm coherence
On the other hand, a more regular and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect, facilitating cognitive function and reinforcing positive feelings and emotional stability.
This means that heart focused breathing will generate an increased heart rhythm coherence. Sustaining positive emotions will not only benefit the entire body, but also profoundly affect how you perceive, think, feel, and perform.
“Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation. When the physiological coherence mode is driven by a positive emotional state, we call it psychophysiological coherence."
HeartMath Institute Research Director Dr. Rollin McCraty
The benefits of heart focused breathing
Deep breathing improves heart rate variability (HRV), which is the measurement of variations within beat-to-beat intervals, creating heart rhythm coherence leading to:
- Feeling calm, peaceful and less rushed or stressed out.
- A sense of being uplifted and alive.
- A deeper heart connection within and with others.
- Greater immunity and health.
Maintaining your focus and breathing through the heart area will automatically lead you into a state of ease – with more energy and resilience for today's challenges.
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