How does the heart do this?
We can lean on The HeartMath Institute’s research and training over the past three decades to explain it, and to inform us with their proven training practices, which are being used all over the world by organizations like: medical centers, universities, NASA, military, first responders, businesses, and many more.
HeartMath’s practices exercise and involve the heart, mind, emotions and the breath to help us generate coherence and create a more optimal state of being, which helps us mitigate against the effects of long term stress, build resilience, and improve how we experience stressors in the present, ultimately improving our psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Here are a few important links for HeartMath:
Intro to HeartMath
Please visit www.heartmath.org to learn more. Better yet, I highly encourage you to watch The HeartMath Experience and begin your coherence training on your own.
The link to the course is Experience.HeartMath.com
But wait, there’s more…
The Polyvagal Theory
In addition to HeartMath’s research and practices, I have been studying the field of trauma and its effects on the mind and body for nearly a decade, and have learned much from Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.
According to the Polyvagal Theory, developing higher Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Vagal Tone is essential in opening us up to and connecting us with our Social Engagement System, a branch of our Autonomic Nervous System. This helps put the brakes on our Sympathetic Nervous System’s chronic dominance in our stress response patterns, which can lead to illness and disease, both mental and physical.
When we are in our Social Engagement System, our bodies and minds support health, growth, and restoration. We are open-hearted, feel safe, and connected. As a result, we function optimally and experience a state of flow, connection, calm, creativity, and compassion. Our immune systems function more optimally, as well as nearly every other life-sustaining capacity.
To learn more how these fit together and how we can cultivate resilience and well-being, please read The Heart of Resilience.
The Symbolic Heart
For eons, our ancestors have known about the special qualities of the human heart – it’s where we seem to feel love and other emotions so strongly, we feel it’s the core of who we are – our Self.
We can call on the heart in much the same way, finding freedom from the grip of the incessantly thinking mind (monkey mind), especially when it’s being hyper-critical and negative (mean monkey mind), to connect with our personal & spiritual core and learn to let its more holistic and intuitive wisdom guide our lives. Essentially, to become Self-led.
Through coaching, I help people clarify and prioritize their personal values. This involves engaging and challenging coaching exercises and tools to help them truly connect to the core of their being and make important decisions about how they intend to live, who they want to be, what work they want to do, and more.
With their values clarified and prioritized, people can guide their lives and make decisions with more confidence, certainty, trust, and ease. Heart-based values can be used to create an inspiring and motivating vision of the future people wish to create and to guide them in the moment by reflecting on a simple, binary choice: am I living from the heart, honoring my values? Or am I moving away from my values to avoid discomfort, pain, stress, or fear?
With these two main pillars of managing our inner world more effectively and knowing how we wish to live, we can ultimately honor the words inspired by Gandhi: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
For these reasons and many more, we can see that the heart is indeed a very special gift. One that we could use more wisely and lovingly in our lives. It matters, and I hope to help people embrace it more in their lives.