I know, I suck at blogging. But, we've been away again. Greg and I just got back from Vail where we got to play for a few days with some of our very favorite friends. It's a group called the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC) whose members are each involved in work that in some way contributes to the growth and well being of humankind and the planet. These are all folks with some truly kick-butt goals who are daily making huge contributions to back up their talk. Every six months we get together for a few days to network, share what we've been learning, and play. Too, too fun. I have to pinch myself.
Anyway, because I love you, and because you are always so patient with my absences (yeah, I know, you get over it pretty dern quick), I want to share something I picked up last week. And no Natalie, it's not some strange virus. It's a very simple and amazingly effective breathing technique for handling unwanted emotional states. It was developed by the good people at the Institute of HeartMath. Whozzat, you say? I'll answer from their website: IHM is a recognized, global leader in emotional physiology, stress management and the physiology of heart-brain research. Fancy schmancy, no? I first heard of them years ago in an interview they did on NPR--and was beyond jazzed to meet them at TLC last summer. Their research center is engaged in basic psychophysiology, neurocardiology and biophysics research, and in clinical, workplace and organizational intervention and treatment outcome studies--and not just off in some dusty, dark rent-a-lab all by themselves--IHM works in collaboration with numerous university and health care system partners. In other words, these aren't just a couple of whackos in a diner, they are the gen-you-ine article. So, now that I've blathered a bit, here's the breathing technique. HeartMath calls it Emotion Shifting with Attitude Breathing.
- Step 1. Recognize an unwanted attitude: an emotion or attitude that is draining your energy, such as frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, angst, self-judgement, blame, guilt, sadness--anything that's distressing.
- Identify a replacement attitude, such as neutral, balance, calm, ease, peace, forgiveness, appreciation, compassion, non-judgement. Below are some examples of negative attitudes and their possible replacement feelings/attitudes. Remember to listen to your own inner knowing, you'll more likely find the optimum replacement feeling there.
Stress/Frustration: Breathe "neutral to calm and revitalize"
Anxiety/Impatience: Breathe "calm and balance"
Overwhelm/Angst: Breathe "ease and peace"
Sadness/Self-Judgment: Breathe "appreciation and non-judgment"
Blame or Guilt: Breathe "compassion and non-judgment"
Now, here's how you're going to breathe. Imagine that your breath is going to by-pass your nose and windpipe. Imagine that your nostrils are at your heart and breathe through your heart. Take several breaths this way, breathing with intention from your heart area, visualizing the air flowing in and out directly through your heart. You don't need to monitor the depth or pace of your breathing, this will happen naturally as you keep your focus on breathing from and through your heart.
After you've practiced focusing your breath in this way for a minute or two, bring up the negative emotion you've been experiencing and consciously, with each breath, breathe in the replacement feeling you've chosen--as outlined above in Steps 1 - 3.
Give this a try. Seriously, you're going to love it. It's simple, you can use it anytime and anywhere, and if you'll discipline yourself to work with it whenever you're stressed, you'll gain facility with it and find yourself walking around like a Jedi master.
By now, if you're one of my blog followers, you've probably noticed the synchronicity of my experience this week with my blog post from last week . . . right down to the language I used in that post. Now, ain't that something? Do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do. (Cue Twilight Zone music here.) We'll have to chat about that another day.
'Till then, keep breathing. And remember how much I love you.
"Breathe" poster designed by Matt Willey of Studio8 Design. Purchase at Magma.com.