|sterling silver heart charms, Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry)|
I recently discovered the Institute of HeartMath. They have some interesting scientific studies on how the heart communicates with the brain and appears to be more then just an organ that pumps blood through our body. The heart has an intelligence all its own.
One scientific study done back in the 1990s discovered that our DNA relaxes or contracts based on feelings. Meaning that if you are feeling gratitude or a person near you is feeling gratitude towards you, your DNA may relax and have higher immune function. On the flip side, in the presence of anger, rage, sadness etc., your DNA may contract and impair your immune function.
Okay, so I'm guessing most of us didn't need science to prove this concept to us, but just knowing the inner workings of the body further validates that increasing the positive feelings happening in your heart, could have an dramatic affect on your health as well as the people around you. How many times have you been given the amazing gift of affection, listening, consideration, or recognition, and experienced your heart and whole body melt into a puddle of goo when you feel the feeling of intense gratitude. I'm guessing this is what science would call your DNA relaxing.
Last year I completed a journal of 120 days of gratitude for the people in my life, and I attest that just writing a couple sentences, envisioning each person, and feeling the feeling of gratitude was one of the most centering things I've ever done. After I completed this journal, I abandoned the writing technique and wove gratitude into my yoga practice instead.
During each Bikram yoga class, I periodically think of someone in my life or in the room that I feel thankful for and feel my feelings of gratitude for them. I let the feeling start in the middle of my heart and then imagine it building and spreading outwards from the center of my chest like a wave. It's not a quick feeling of gratitude, rather I build the intensity of this feeling just like a voice might sustain a note in a song. I let it grow bigger and bigger so expands throughout the room, touching each person, spilling out into the street, mixing with strangers, out past the city limits and beyond.
This kind of focused feeling technique isn't new or different, it's a type of meditation or prayer that has been practiced for centuries by many different religions. Feeling the feeling of compassion for one being and extending it outward to others is a fundamental Buddhist meditation technique.
Maybe some people shy away from this type of meditation practice because of its religious connections, but the knowledge of the heart as a powerful intelligence is ancient wisdom that Western science is now beginning to embrace. Over at the Institute for HeartMath they have packaged this same idea in what they call the Quick Coherence® Technique. Here's how the Institute for HeartMath describes it:
The Quick Coherence® Technique helps you create a coherent state, offering access to your heart’s intelligence. It uses the power of your heart to balance thoughts and emotions, helping you to achieve a neutral, poised state for clear thinking. It is a powerful technique that connects you with your energetic heart zone to help you release stress, balance your emotions and feel better fast.
It's three simple steps of focusing on your heart, breathing into that space, and feeling a positive feeling. All of this can be done in around a minute. I'm thinking they use this minute guideline to account for our fast-paced culture, so if you want some major benefits I recommend increasing your time to at least 10 or 15 minutes. Check out all the directions by clicking here.
What has been known for centuries in regards to the importance of feeling positive feelings in your body is now being researched and embraced by Western science as extremely beneficial to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. So whatever technique you choose such as waking up each day and feeling gratitude for someone in your life, devoting time to focused meditation on compassion for others, or making Quick Coherence® Technique one of your strategies for dealing with stress at home or work, I hope you find a way to weave positive feelings -- your heart's language of communication -- into your daily life.
The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.
To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures.