In the Mood: The Heart’s Elixirs on Tap with HeartMath
For nearly 30 years, researchers with the HeartMath Institute (HRI) have delved into the wonders of the heart helping thousands to improve their emotional wellbeing using their discoveries and tools. Like ordering a perfect chemical cocktail to reduce stress, find courage or forgiveness, we can now tell the heart how we want to feel, giving us the control to deal with life’s stressors a little more smoothly. In honor of heart month, southern Oregon’s HeartMath-certified practitioners have a bit of wisdom to share.
Michelle Nagel, president of Soul Shift, Inc and best-selling author of Suffering is Optional.
Helping others overcome the effects of trauma, especially betrayal trauma, is Nagel’s mission. The recipient of severe childhood abuse, Nagel began studying psychology in her twenties and spent the next 30 years working to find ways to heal herself and others.
“It’s incredible what betrayal trauma does to us and how it effects us,” Nagel says. “People are beginning to talk about their experiences, they’re not as shamed into hiding it is much, and so we’re more aware today.”
By teaching body awareness and integrating HRI techniques such as the heart lock-in* practice, she helps others reconnect to the heart and its powerful intuition. Once the heart’s energetic response takes effect, she has people wash it over themselves first.
“Somehow we were taught that loving ourselves was selfish,” she explains. “I teach people to honor their feelings and to trust their heart.”
Marilyn Lindsay, Stress reduction counselor at Hidden Springs Wellness.
Specializing in impaired digestion therapy and nutrition education, Lindsay integrated HRI’s technology to help clients see, literally, the difference between an uncontrolled emotional state and intentional heart and brain coherence that calms a stressed body. “We’re at a time in history when we’re all suffering from much of the same thing, just expressed in different ways,” she says.
Clients are plugged into a program on her computer and she walks them through the heart lock-in steps then leaves the room so they can practice while the results are recorded. The patterns are evident on a graph she explains to them afterward, giving real-time biofeedback.
According to HRI, there is a whole communication system within and from the heart that explains ways we feel. Patterns can be observed when the heart is experiencing emotions and when it is upset the patterns become erratic and jagged. Like taking a daily medication, practicing heart-focused exercises can help build heart power to keep the nervous, immune and hormonal systems in balance. “The heart’s been left behind as technology keeps coming at us but we’re now primed and ready to bring the heart forward,” says Lindsay.
Sandra Pettigrew, Certified HeartMath coach and trainer
“Spirit has always been important to me,” Pettigrew shares. Believing we each hold the answers to our own truth, health and happiness, she helps others connect with their heart more and learn to navigate its innate wisdom to follow their inner guidance.
After breast cancer treatment drained her emotionally, Pettigrew was keen on learning about HeartMath and completed both certification levels. “We’re so often in stressful situations like listening to the news or being pushed by a ‘tailgater’ on a busy freeway,” she says. “But there’s a way we can intentionally regulate and sustain a heart/brain coherence that, through practice, can help balance our emotions, our physical reactions and help us maintain a higher resonance with the beat of life that goes on around us.”
One recommendation: Heart lock-in practice—focus attention on the heart area and pretend to breathe slowly through the heart for 10-15 seconds. Remember the feeling of love or appreciation for someone or something positive in your life and breathe this feeling into the heart—stay with this for 5-15 minutes and bathe in the effects yourself before sending it out to others.
More info at heartmath.org.