I started meditation about 6 years ago. It helped me to recognize that I have this voice in my head, which at that time was talking unstoppably. But this voice is the topic of another blog post. Beginning of last year several times I run across a meditation, which focuses on the heart. It made me curious, especially as I run into it repeatedly on different totally independent occasions. So, I started to look into this kind of meditation to learn more about it, and eventually started practicing it. I realized that it makes me more effective while feeling good.
The scientific background
I found out, that this meditation is scientifically very well studied. This made me even more curious as, as a scientist, I like to know the why and how. A lot of the research was and is done by the Heart Math Institute.
The heart does not only provide our body with blood by beating frequently. New scientific discoveries show that the heart has its own independent nervous system. Thus, it provides the brain and the rest of the body also with information. It literally talks to them. The transfer and exchange of information from one nerve cell (neuron) to another happens electronically and chemically. Based on this we are able to feel, think and act. As the heart has its own independent nervous system it is also called the heart brain.
The electromagnetic field of our heart is about 5000 times stronger as the electromagnetic field of our brain. Our heart produces so much electrical energy that an electromagnetic field is created surrounding our body 360 degrees. As this field radiates beyond our body it can be measured up to about 1 meter outside of our body. This electromagnetic field changes with our emotions.
During the meditation we focus on our heart, which gets us into a state of coherence. In this state of coherence our whole body is in harmony and in the same rhythm. Our entire body system and our heart, mind and emotions are in a condition of optimal collaboration. Positive effects of the coherence are for example the reduction of stress and the improvement of mental functions, which enables us to feel, think and act clearer. Additionally, it has a positive impact on our health. It gives us the ability to choose our emotional state and not be victims of our feelings. Coherence can be measured by the heart rate variability, which is the beat-to-beat variation of the heart. In a coherent state the heart rate variability shows an even and uniform pattern of wave lengths.
How to do the meditation
For the meditation
- Get into a comfortable position. I like to sit cross-legged on my Yoga block on my Yoga mat or a blanket. A cushion would serve the same purpose as the block. Also sitting on a chair or lying on the back is fine. When sitting on a chair it is important that your feet are parallel and flat on the floor. This improves the feeling of groundedness. While sitting rest your hands comfortably on your legs.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing – breathing in and out, and in and out….
- After a moment, while your breath gets calmer and slower, in addition to the attention on your breathing – focus on your heart. Start to imagine that your breath is flowing in and out of your heart, whereas you continue to breathe as before.
- When this works well, connect your breathing with an emotion or an attitude as the latter causes emotions. Imagine to breathe this emotion or attitude through your heart – still continue to breathe as before. Change only your imagination. I like to apply emotions and attitudes as love, gratefulness, trust, patience, ease, playfulness, and happiness. You can use any kind of positive emotion or attitude, which you feel is the right one.
- Immerse deeper and deeper in your emotion with the intention that your emotion streams through your whole body and radiates to every cell of your body and beyond.
- Through the rest of the meditation maintain your breathing with the imaginations, that you breathe the emotion or attitude through your heart and that your emotion streams through your entire body and radiates to every cell of your body and beyond.
When your mind wanders through the mediation, bring your attention gently back to your breathing, your heart, and your emotions. Do the meditation without any expectations, as this puts pressure on you, which has the opposite effect. In case you find it difficult to maintain your attention on your heart, lie your hands on your heart. For some people it works best to listen to music, to others to be in silence. Play around. Find out what works best for you and apply it.
When I do meditations longer than 10 minutes, I set the alarm. When I do it for just a few minutes I do it without alarm. In the latter case I stop, when I feel that I want to stop. I mention this, as, as I started to meditate, I wondered if it is okay to set an ordinary alarm. And I could not find anything about it in literature. Maybe it is too trivial or not enough spiritual that it is not worth to mention it or I just think too much. Finally, I learned from the exchange with other persons, that they set an alarm, as well.
How the meditation works for me
Depending on my needs and how I feel, I do this meditation. For example, If I want to recharge when I am exhausted or I have the desire to calm down and to relax when I perceive stress or anger. Based on this and my available time I decide on the length and just do a quick meditation for a few minutes or maybe a longer one for around 20 min. It helps me to get rid of my negative emotions or at least not to work myself up into something.
I have good and bad days. During the good once I am able to connect with my heart very quickly. During the bad once sometimes I am not able to connect with my heart. Instead I observe my agitated thoughts. Even if on the bad days at a first glance the mediation does not appear to be successful, it is very successful. At the end of the meditation my thoughts are calmer. If I had planned to write an angry mail before the mediation, after the meditation all my desires to do this are gone. The meditation helps me to reduce stress and anxiety, to be calmer and more relaxed, and to be more focused and concentrated. Overall, this makes me more effective while feeling good. I am curious to learn what you experience, when you start with this meditation.
Photo by Elina Fairytale