To start the meditation, place both hands, one on top of the other, over the center of your chest. This is your heart center. Now close your eyes and become aware of each in breath and each out breath. Now visualize an image that is emotionally endearing to you. (Dr. Morledge pictures his son when he was an infant and he was rocking him to sleep.) Stay with this image and the feeling that accompanies it for a minute, while maintaining an awareness of each breath. Then slowly open your eyes and move into your day.
It’s best to practice this on occasion, says Dr. Morledge, so that when you really need it, you can evoke the image and move into this relaxed state more effectively.
Use your senses to bring you more into the moment. While we’re making dinner, we could choose to chop and worry about the 10 million other things that need to get done this week. Or we could give our brains a break, while using our bodies — primarily our senses — to derive pleasure from the moment. Something as simple as noticing the vibrant color of an orange pepper, touching its smooth exterior, noticing the sweet smell and tasting the crispness of it engages all our senses and regulates the autonomic nervous system. All this and you’ve invested five, maybe 10 seconds of your time. This isn’t to say that we need to go through our day staring at peppers and savoring each little moment. That’s not practical or even safe. But being more attuned to the little opportunities for being physically engaged throughout your day does fuel your well-being.
Smile and mean it. A smile that’s genuine — the kind where you’re using those crow’s-feet muscles on either side of your eyes — actually grabs on to specific parts of your brain that bring joy. Research has shown that configuring the face this way actually stimulates the ANS and signals the brain that we’re happy about something. An insincere (or social) smile — the kind typically associated with stress that only engages our mouth, and not our eyes as well — actually has the opposite effect by triggering the ANS that something is not right, which in turn ups adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that feed coronary heart disease.
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