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From the heart

For the past two years the world has surfed the Covid wave. Recently, it is beginning to feel like we might be in for a soft landing. John Kabat Zinn, the Zen guru once said, “you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” We did indeed learn to surf, and it is now time to rest and recuperate.

Surfers have a saying. “Waves are not measured in feet and inches; they are measured in increments of fear.” Many people experienced this fear throughout the pandemic. Some of us still feel it and are finding it difficult to let it go. Fear is a powerful emotion, and like all emotions, it is contagious.

Research has shown that emotions determine how we interpret and respond to the world and the people around us. Breathing techniques have been used since 2,500 BC to promote feelings of peacefulness and relaxation. The HeartMath Institute, a non-profit organisation, founded in 2010, have developed a series of breathing exercises called the Heartmath System that helps us deal with powerful negative emotions, such as fear.

One of these techniques is called Heart Focused Breathing. It can be done anywhere, anytime with instant benefits. Just follow the steps below.

1. Sit quietly in an upright position and place your attention on the area of the heart.

2. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose (count to five on the in breath and five on the out breath).

3. Imagine the air entering and leaving through your heart area.

4. Repeat these steps for about 5 mins, regularly throughout the day and especially if you are feeling stressed or over-whelmed.

Heart Focused Breathing slows the breath and heart rate and creates a state of ease and calm in all the systems of the body, including the brain and digestive system. Even five minutes of this breathing can lead to emotional stability, mental clarity, improved decision-making and enhanced wellbeing.

What matters is not only how things are, but how we experience them. 0ur experience depends on how we feel. How we feel is dependent on the state of our body. Heart focused Breathing creates a state of coherence within our bodies that helps us regulate our emotions and interact in a more positive way with the world around us.

We may think that our emotions are not under our control, that we are at the mercy of the winds and waves of fortune but with a little practice we can learn to feel safer and more at ease in the world. With time, this new state of ease can become our default way of being leading to less fear, more joy and better physical and psychological health.

Dr. Lucia Gannon is a certified HeartMath trainer. See here for more information about HeartMath.

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