Heating up Your Heart
5 Heart Warming C’s: Curiosity, Circulation, Correlation, Coherence, Commitment
“It’s time to lift the spirit of depression of each one around us….to melt the ice in the heart of humanity”.
This is one of my favorite lines in Sacred Journey of the Heart film, spoken by Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, nicknamed “Uncle”, a Greenland Eskimo-Kalaallit Elder and shaman. Uncle is a passionate advocate for indigenous and environmental issues that impact us all. At the heart of it all, according to Uncle, is a world-wide disconnect from our hearts and heart of earth itself. I concur.
As I’ve learned from the Institute of HeartMath, our heart is the key organ that regulates the synchronization of the body as a whole. If you haven’t seen the film, you will enjoy the evidence presented by Dr. Rollin McCraty, HeartMath’s lead scientist and Gregg Braden, NYT best-selling author and researcher that transforms our understanding about the power of the heart. They also provide astounding evidence that there IS a collective heart, and an undeniable connection between the human heart and the earth.
Graphic from Sacred Journey of the Heart©
Before we talk about ways to “heat up” our hearts, I’ll share with you what is commonly shared with me by people in my workshops and coaching sessions when I ask, “what’s your intention for today?”
Essentially, these fall into one of 4 areas of our existence that are impacted by what I call “frozen-heart syndrome”:
Relationship to oneself: “I want to feel inspired again.” “I want to be able to feel all of my feelings.” “I want to learn to listen to my heart.”
Relationship to others: “I want to feel closer to my loved ones.” “I want to be more authentic in my relationships.” “I want to share my deepest feelings with those I care about.”
Connection to one’s avocation: “I want to find my true purpose.” “I want to give more from my authentic self.” “I want to make a more meaningful contribution in my life.”
Connection to God/Spirit: “I want to feel a personal, meaningful connection to spirit.” “I want to feel more connected to the greater whole.”
Each of these sentences is led by the phrase “I want.” This is important because the etymology of “want” comes from the root word “we-no” which means, to leave, to abandon. So this means that in experiencing the frozen heart symptoms, people feel that they have lost something or have abandoned a way of life that they once had or have been abandoned by someone they love.
For all of us on a heart-based journey, I believe it means taking a risk to start to unwind the learned patterns of emotional shut-down.
What I’ve learned is that a full and rich life involves taking risks on a regular basis.
But how we take the risk always determines what we experience! This leads to the first “C”:
1) Curiosity: If we dive into something new and our predominant emotion is fear, we will experience fear-full things. If we choose instead, to dive into the unknown with a sense of curiosity, we will be more open to explore, expand and express ourselves in a new way.
Example: I had two people begin the 4 week “Voyage to Heart Intelligence” at about the same time with vastly different results. Both clients were highly stressed and largely disconnected emotionally. Both of them were afraid that the “voyage” would lead them into places of past pain. In fact, the purpose of HeartMath’s coach-led 4 week voyage is NOT focused on digging up the past, but on learning new strategies to effectively manage the present. The difference between my two clients was that one was able to shift into curiosity, “what new place will this lead me into?”, and the other person stayed mired in trepidation about what she might uncover or “lose”. Curiosity was not something she wanted to go into. She ended up quitting at week two with a common defense pattern: “It isn’t working!” When I asked if she had been practicing twice a day for 5 to 10 minutes, she said “no, I don’t have the time”. My other client stuck with it and learned that it is very easy to learn a new pattern when you simply express a curious willingness to learn something fast, new and effective.
2) Circulation: Obviously, the heart is all about circulation. The “heating up” circulation I’m referring to is the choice to allow the energetic heart, the location of emotional intelligence, to flow rather than to stagnate. If you feel that you’re out of touch with your heart, most likely you’ve walled off your emotions. The thing I’ve discovered is that you can’t wall off some emotions and not others. As I melted the ice in my own heart, I started to feel all of my emotions more easily: joy and sadness, compassion and anger, fear and courage. Circulating these feelings, allowing them to flow rather than stay stuck allows us to be more in the moment, to enjoy life and to know that feelings can’t harm us – the thing that does cause harm, in the form of increased stress and physical breakdown, is keeping feelings frozen. As a circulation tool, I use a heart-warming meditation with clients that begins with imaging a warm flame lighting and heating the heart from the solar plexus area. This actually helps people start to feel their heart energies in a safe and easy way.
3) Correlation: Correlation is defined as a mutual relation of two or more things and as the reciprocal relation of organs and functions. In the melting the ice in our hearts, making a conscious correlation between what’s stuck in our energetic heart and the circumstances of our lives can be amazingly freeing. One exercise I recommend is called the 360 degree review. I created this exercise as part of the movie and it is featured in Chapter 7 entitled: Tools and Teachings of the Heart.
Here’s an example of a big “aha” moment this technique uncovered for a woman at a workshop. This woman was sharing one of her biggest pet peeves with the group that had to do with service related companies doing everything they could to NOT provide their services to consumers – such as insurance companies, banks, and automated customer service lines. Using the 360 degree review technique, she turned this inward to her own heart and realized that she had not been providing key services to herself! She correlated this to her own lack of keeping her promises to exercise, eat better and be kinder to herself. It may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to her. The more correlation we can make from our outer circumstances and/or pet peeves to our inner lives, the easier it is to transform them into motivating factors for conscious change!
4) Coherence: As defined by HeartMath, coherence is a harmonious flow of information, cooperation and order between various systems. The heart’s coherence can be specifically measured in real-time by HeartMath’s devices such as the Inner Balance app or the emWave2.
As we learn to increase our physiological coherence through simple exercises that focus on the heart and renewing (vs depleting) emotions, we attain higher levels of health, optimal performance and improved problem solving capacity. See previous blog articles for more information Or review chapter 4 of the film where Dr. Rollin McCraty leads the audience through a quick coherence exercise.
5) A Commitment to daily heart-centered practice. We cannot change the way we feel unless we commit to feeling! Here are several easy practices: a) before making any decisions, take a moment to close your eyes and physically touch your heart, b) begin the day with gratitude, c) reach out to someone who needs a word of encouragement (“Coeur” = heart), d) when you feel stressed, take a moment to connect to your heart with Quick Coherence Technique from HeartMath (see previous blog posts), e) Listen to one of my 5 minute, 5 heart-opening meditations to set the tone for your day. And here’s one suggestion for the end of the day: Tune in to the end of the national evening news broadcast where news anchors often report on heart-warming stories like this one from yesterday: A Collective Solution: Train commuters in Perth, Australia worked together to rock a 40 ton subway train to free a trapped man’s leg:
I’m going to add one final “C”, my personal Conviction about the power of meditation and prayer as we connect to God/Spirit and the eternal nature of our souls. Any prayer or meditation practice that leads us to connect with spirit will, in no uncertain terms, eventually melt the ice in our hearts.