Change is the only constant in life. Yet, if change is so inevitable, why have we programmed ourselves to push it away or deny its existence? The answer may lie in the fact that as our inner systems deal with change, they trigger stress, agitation and confusion as a natural part of the process. If left unaddressed, these are likely to cause tension physically, emotionally or mentally.
‘You can’t block the dark without blocking the light.’
Our brain wants to protect us, and it may see any change as a threat as change may trigger our deepest fears and insecurities. We seem to block anything that feels anyway unpleasant instinctually. Thereby suppressing the emotions and stopping ourselves from growing through and processing change.
Self-regulating Our Emotional Response
‘If you’re a normal human being you’re going to encounter stress. You can’t always prepare for that but you can learn to react a little better. That’s where breathing and vision come in handy.’Dr. Andrew Huberman
Accepting change is the first step to processing change. Once we accept it, we can then build awareness around it. While we can’t control the changes happening around us, we get to decide whether we react or respond to change. When we react, that shows we’re at the mercy of change. When we respond, it shows we’re in control of how we feel in relation to change. And it’s our ability to self-regulate our emotional response system that determines whether we respond or react.
In America, the HeartMath Institute teaches how to self-regulate our emotional response system through a technique they call the Heart-Focused Breathing Technique.
‘When we’re engaged with our hearts, the mind slows down and our thoughts become more rational and focused.’Doc Childre, The HeartMath Solution
- Close your eyes or soften your gaze by gently lowering your eyelids. This helps take your attention away from your surroundings and bring your awareness deeper within. Closing your eyes helps eliminate distractions and signals to your body ‘I am safe’.
- Intentionally slow down your breathing. You can achieve this by creating a rhythm to your breathing. Where you breathe in, say, for the count of five and out for six. Find the rhythm that works best for you.
- With every breath you take, imagine yourself breathing pure light into and out through your heart. Imagine it easing and soothing your emotions. You may wish to place your hands on your heart area. As when you focus your attention on a specific area within your body your focus helps cause measurable changes in that area.
- When you practise heart-focused breathing, it positively changes your heart’s rhythm into coherent heart rhythms. These rhythms are carried as neural information from the heart to the brain through the vagus nerve. The brain interprets this information as a sign of wellbeing, prompting emotional stability and regulation to the nervous system.
So, when you’re next feeling stressed, agitated or confused, remember you can support your nervous system by closing your eyes, slowing your breathing and focusing on your heart as you breathe in the rhythmic sequence that suits you.