Discovering the Creative Power of the Heart-Brain
We are drowning in facts, factoids, lies, rumors and multiple offers of redemption and transformation—from diets to gurus. In order to focus and know who and what we are meant to be on this planet, we have to trim the waste. Much as a forest can’t breathe when the trees and bushes overwhelm the land, neither can we breathe when information runs riot through our daily lives. So we, too, need a clearing away of the brush to reveal the true shape and purpose of our lives. If this sounds like a big order, it is. It is because it is our life’s work, not a day, a week or a month’s project. We like being told we can make changes “overnight” to a life that has formed itself for multiple years. We can envision these changes in a short period of time, but implementing them takes focus and intention.
Yesterday, one of those writers died who influences my life in multiple ways. She is not the first, but the most recent grieving. It is amazing how a person one has never met has shaped who you are in your life! When I first read Mary Oliver, and first used a quote of hers in a workshop, she became a key player in my heart-brain. When she asked:
“Tell me. What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I felt she was asking me a direct question, and I knew it was life-changing to answer that question truthfully. And it has also been life-changing for many of my clients and students. What if they asked us that in school early on? What if we had focused on that question in our prayers and meditations? I did, and it changed me forever. Oliver lives on in so many ways, as does John O’Donohue, who continues to live in me until this day in spite of his death many years ago. This is the ultimate gift of a writer’s heart to his/her readers, and one I don’t take lightly.
Poets and writers of the spirit—whether they write novels, essays or poems—have an influence that was not minimized in the past. Even uneducated people in the early development of our country could quote their favorite writers and engage in conversation about Thoreau, Emerson or Dickinson. Mention Whitman in the 1800s and ordinary people could quote him as readily as academics. Today we have those artists and writers who can touch our soul, but they are overwhelmed by a tidal flood of so-called information. That’s why I always include quotes and conversation about writing in my workshops and, mostly, in my blogs. To stop and spend a moment with a wise heart and spirit is essential to being human.
Those of you familiar with my columns on HeartMath® are aware of the facts about our physical and emotional heart. It is a powerful and amazingly simple tool to change how we see our lives. When we breathe into and out of the heart, we release the emotional energy that sends chemical reactions to our brains and helps us to act clearly and in a focused way. The power of the heart cannot be underestimated, and harnesses the power of the brain in many ways. Simply focusing on our hearts changes our respiration, our coherence and our ability to respond to stress. Not bad for a simple action! My HeartMath® clients then learn to apply simple tools to deepen their awareness of how to respond to stresses in their daily lives. Our bodies are already set up to respond to change, but we’ve overwhelmed ourselves with brain chatter so that we’ve forgotten. Add to these tools the conscious choice of who and what to focus on—in our lives, our reading and our internet—and we are on our way to creating a new way of seeing the world.
It is January—a time we often focus on big changes in our lives. My advice would be to focus on small ones and then marvel at the results. For this week, I recommend the following:
1. If you don’t keep a journal, now is a good time to start. Even if you just have a pad of paper.
2. Take several short breaks during the day. Five minutes is enough! Focus on your heart, breathing in slowly to the count of four, out slowly to the count of four. Be aware of what happens in your body. Do this even if you have to go into the restroom at work.
3. On Sunday, consider targeting a book with a spiritual—not necessarily religious—undertone. Poetry works because we can read a small poem in a short time. Tell yourself you will start every day that week considering the message of the poem and how it can affect your life. I highly recommend you start with Mary Oliver, as she speaks directly to the heart. Many single poems are available online.
4. Consciously limit the amount of internet surfing or news watching you do for this one week. Eliminate watching violent shows. Note daily how it affects your attitude.
We are on a journey together in a world that is rife with sorrow and challenge. Being in a coherent heart-space makes us a positive factor in our own lives and the lives of those around us. How important that is!
This and previous blogs are available on my website at www.theresetappouni.com
Discovering the Creative Power of the Heart-Brain