Start a daily routine to take charge of your emotions
Now we add a daily routine to guide us through the simple steps that stimulate our brain to create new and positive neural pathways that support the brain structure related to our desired state of mind.
This daily routine uses two HeartMath Institute skills. We discussed heart focused breathing in my letter to the editor in the Aug. 24 issue of the Maryland Independent. Today I am adding the second skill, “quick coherence.”
Start with heart focused breathing and shift to quick coherence.
Turn your attention to your chest area and imagine that you are breathing in and out of your heart. Breathe a little slower and a little deeper. After a minute or so of focusing on your breathing and the movement of your chest and abdomen, recall a time from your past when you were grateful for someone or something that happened in your life. It can be as simple as how you feel when your pet greets you. We want the event to have strong emotion.
Re-experience the feelings of that event again. Feel what you felt, see what you saw. Hear what you heard. Allow yourself to feel the intensity of those feelings again now. Sustain those feelings. When your thoughts wander, bring your attention back to your breath and your chest area and return to re-experiencing the positive emotions you were focused on before. Stay with this as long as life allows, but for at least 20 seconds.
That is it. You now know the two mindfulness skills needed to practice the following daily routine.
Set an alarm to go off at least eight times a day. Check your emotional state in that moment. Am I frustrated? Am I focused on negative thoughts? Am I having a “moment” of joy and bliss? Am I bored, or unengaged?
If you are feeling positive then install that emotion using quick coherence. If you are in a negative mind state, use quick coherence to shift your focus to the positive event you selected to use with this technique.
Shifting to a positive mind state allows our physiology to stem the flow of cortisol and replace it with DHEA, the “vitality” hormone which restores balance to our mind body system. By repeating this exercise over and over throughout the day we are training our physiology to support a positive mind state and to create neural pathways to maintain that positive mind state.
Accepting responsibility for how we feel is key to this practice. No one can make us feel anything. How we perceive events determines how we feel about them. If someone is rude to you, you have many possible choices of how to respond. You can choose to feel bad, good, neutral or someplace in between. Now you know that it is up to you.
Whenever “triggered” by something or someone, we shift our focus to our breathing and the movement of our chest and abdomen. After a few breaths we use our “gratitude event” to re-start the growth of neural pathways that support that positive mind state. We diminish the negative and choose to ignore the “trigger” and reinforce a positive state of mind.
This practice, if followed daily, will create what the HeartMath Institute calls a “choice point” — an inner pause that allows us to be in charge of our emotions and prevent our physiology from hijacking our emotional responses. In time you will change from a “reactive” emotional life to a “rational choice” emotional life.
Take advantage of what you have learned about your physiology and stress. Make this daily routine part of your life from now on. When you stop being mindful in the moment and lose control of your mind state, your physiology will take over and establish the negative state it believes keeps you safe. (Remember the negative bias?)
Let the “why is this happening to me” go. Accept what is. Live your life in the moment. Now is the only time you have any power. What you choose now is what you get. It is your choice.
I have created an eight-week program which is designed to establish brain structure to support a positive mind state. If you send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) stating that you commit to following the program for eight weeks and to write a review of your experience, I will reply with a PDF of the program attached.