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Healing With Heart

Getting to the heart of the matter is where Healing Mode lives.

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Healing With Heart

I recently had a chance to speak with Dr. Oz about the mysterious power of spontaneous healing. What causes a mother of three with late stage lymphoma, sent home to die with no treatment, find herself in complete remission two years later? Most doctors relegate these stories to the corner and categorize them as rare, unknown obscurities. Dr. Oz and I are fascinated by them and want to know more. 

First of all, I know that the body has a healing system—it can repair and regenerate itself. I also know that the body wants to be healthy—it wants to come back to a state of balance, where all systems operate efficiently.

Unfortunately, our conscious mind has little to do with this process; in fact, it is more likely to get in the way of things, especially with how fast our mental chatter is running these days. The random thoughts and feelings invading our conscious mind usually run counter to our healing system, rather than nurturing or strengthening it.

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The trick to turning on this Healing Mode is to get out of your mind and let your body do what it knows how to do. But if we get our minds out of the way, where do we go for Healing Mode to turn on?

The answer lies within our hearts.

The language of the heart is fascinating. I’ve written about this in my book, "Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to healthy Living." We’ve discovered that heart rate variability (HRV)—the dynamic, beat-to-beat changes in heart rhythms—is a window into this optimum state we call Healing Mode. HRV can demonstrate a look or pattern that is different when we are functioning in this peak state—living in our hearts—as opposed to when we are in our heads or reacting poorly to the stress in our lives. Emotion seems to be key here: negative emotions (or just having too much mental chatter) produces a random, chaotic, jerky pattern to HRV. However, when we are able to shift focus out of our heads and into our hearts, breathing more rhythmically and accessing positive emotion, our HRV pattern appears more ordered, fluid and harmonic.

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It looks like a wave, flowing in sync, rhythmically up and down.

I teach guests at Miraval how to access this state in three simple steps:

  • Practice Heart Focus by shifting your attention to the area around your heart. Do this with your senses, touching your chest, feeling the warmth of your hand there; say the word “heart” and notice what it feels like; invite a heart-felt image or color to come to your mind’s eye.
  • Practice Heart Breathing as you let your breath get fuller, deeper and more rhythmically even. Count four-in and four-out, imagining a wave of warmth and compassion coming into the center of your chest.
  • Create and Sustain a Heart Feeling by accessing a feeling of gratitude or appreciation for someone or something in your life. Heart feelings can also include the positive feelings you have when you are living true to yourself or accomplishing something important; the sense of satisfaction when you know you’ve done something meaningful for yourself or others. Breathe this feeling into the center of your chest—the area around your heart.

Do this heart-centered meditation for five minutes as a practice. Try it anytime you feel you need a state of calm and balance—as a way to prepare for something important or to repair from a stressful event. Getting out of your head and into your heart can be a skill to exercise in the midst of real world stress. When we access our hearts, we open the door to the healing response, letting it shift us out of chaos and into a state of balance and harmony.

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