How the Heart Helps You Change
Have you ever tried to make a change in your life only to fail or come up short on motivation? We all have. What we’ve learned at Institute of HeartMath is that when you really want to change, reinforcement will come from your heart. Your heart wants to get out of the negative trap and not have to endure the hurt, resentment and anguish of not making the change you say you want. When you’re ready, your heart will motivate you to improve your relationship, save your job, lose weight or write that book.
What many people don’t realize is that love is integral to motivation. Feelings of care and appreciation move you out of old hurts and resentments as you realize you don’t need to hang onto them as security any longer. Love makes it possible for you to shift to the wide-angle lens of perception. Take Shauna for instance. She was constantly annoyed by her parents. Every time she visited them, she felt her anger triggered. Then Shauna fell in love. Riding high and feeling great about herself, she saw her parents in a new way. Their reactions no longer bothered her. Instead of making her want to run a hundred miles, their reactions slipped off her like water off a duck’s back. Why?
When you’re in love, you open your heart more. The hormones released from being in love give you a more cushioned response to situations. You can build that same cushion from within. You don’t need to wait to fall in love. Learning how to self-generate more love in your system creates that cushion—so you don’t react as quickly to people or events with an angry survival response but respond with a centered response. The heart tools build security—a cushion of inside reinforcement—and inner security is what gives you the power to change.
The heart is really about transformation. That’s part of nature’s design. Your heart is what transforms the physiology of anger that drains your system, into the physiology of love that gives you wholeness and effectiveness. You achieve this by replacing angry emotions with real care. Feelings of care and appreciation are the building blocks for love that you build inside yourself. When you replace the anger with care, you choose a more effective emotion. Care transforms perception. Care is an ingredient of intelligence that causes your entire system to work more harmoniously and respond more effectively to resistances that come up in life. Care gives you rhythm. Life happens, negative things happen. Self-generated care enables you to move through the resistances and inconveniences of life with more intelligence and less energy.
For example, say you are in a crowded airport and late getting to your plane. You start to anxiously push your way through the crowd, bumping into luggage and people, frustrated because you can’t move as fast as you need to. You’re angry at whomever is in your way. Your head is driving you. If you stop and use a heart tool, get centered in your heart, and find an attitude of appreciation or care, your flow changes. You see the openings in the throng and feel your way through in a rhythm, dancing around obstacles, getting to your gate with minimum energy expenditure. That’s what tuning to your heart rhythm can do.
The heart rhythm is subtle. To find a smooth rhythm when you need it requires a new reference place inside from which you respond—a heart intelligent place. That reference place will feel different from your mechanical head and you’ll come to recognize it.
My heart has led me to change, as well. I knew I needed to go to bed earlier to get more sleep. I had been staying up late to have more time for me after a full day and often evening of work. I’d be tired in the morning and not as clear during the day, but it was hard to break out of that. When I finally got sick, I had a talk with my heart. It gave me a very clear feeling that I needed to turn off the TV and stop earlier and have that time to journal, meditate and create quality time for myself. Those self-care activities were far more rewarding than what I had been doing that I thought was rewarding. That quality time for myself refreshed me and felt really good. I find that if I do something nurturing – not just mind-stimulating – for me – it keeps my heart open and is fulfilling. Using “my time” to connect with my heart and having a creative dialogue between my heart and head inspires and empowers other positive changes in my life.
How do you bring the heart into the changes you want to make? Follow the Heart Lock-In technique:
- Shift your attention to the area of your heart and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Activate and sustain a genuine feeling of appreciation or care for the thing you want to change.
- Radiate these feelings of care and appreciation toward yourself and your intention for five minutes or longer.
- When you catch your mind wandering, simply refocus your attention on the heart area and reconnect with feelings of care and appreciation or other heart qualities.
- Notice how this extended radiation of care has affected your body, emotions and thinking.
- As you complete your Heart Lock-In, be receptive to your heart’s intuitive guidance. Is there anything your heart would like you to know in this moment about your intention? Write down whatever you quietly sense.