Now that Valentine’s Day is done and dusted for another year, I’d like to share with you a practice that’s a lot longer lasting than a chocolate heart. It’s a heart-based breathing practice that I teach my clients and it’s wonderfully effective at quickly bringing you calm, peace and inner harmony. And, let’s face it, we could all do with a bit more of that.
Years of research shows that if you have more balanced heart rhythms, you not only benefit from better brain function but lower stress hormones and a greater feeling of calm and peace, too. You can use this easy-peasy technique to book-end every day, or just whenever you feel like it. It’s also brilliant to call upon when you’re hit by a draining emotion such as frustration, irritation, anxiety or anger.
Now, I’m not big on using technology in my coaching sessions because I think there’s quite enough of that elsewhere and it’s such a special respite to have uninterrupted human connection time, talking face to face. However, there’s one exception I make to that and that is a very clever piece of technology called HeartMath. This lets people see their heart beat variability (basically the change in the time between your heart beats) in real time. The best bit is that they can quickly learn to actually change it to make it more regular, just through a really simple technique that I can share with you now. The great news is that you don’t need any software, app or anything at all to practise this – everything you need, you have already! In essence, heart-focused breathing is simply directing your attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal.
Ok, here’s how to do it.
Step 1: As you breathe in, imagine you are breathing in through your heart, and, as you breathe out, imagine it’s through your heart. Placing your hand over your heart as you breathe can help you in directing your focus to this area.
Aim to breathe in for about 5 seconds and breathe out for 5 seconds, but don’t get too hung up on it and just find your natural rhythm.
Step 2: Bring to mind something or someone that you are grateful for in your life. It could be a child, partner, pet – or just something that makes you smile. It could be recalling something special or a wonderful place that makes you feel good. Re-experience that positive feeling now as you continue to breathe deeply.
There, I told you it was easy! You can do this for as little as 3 – 5 minutes a day and reap massive benefits to your health and wellbeing. Or do it for longer if you like.
Practice this regularly and you’ll have an ever-accessible key to feeling calm and at ease… whatever life throws at you. How’s that for a Valentine’s present?