Meditation Mondays: Calming Your Heart
None of us are immune to tragedy and loss. In my role as benefits shaman, I speak of unexpected loss and tragedy often; more specifically, having the necessary resources so we’re better equipped to make decisions about our lives, families, and businesses from a place of strength vs. emotional distress. When I say resources, yes I do in part mean financial, but more so I’m referring to tools that support our emotional well-being and healing. Ever notice that even if nothing directly traumatic or chaotic is occurring in the present we can still feel as though it is? In fact, the majority of emotional and physical pain we experience is largely due to our own conscious and subconscious memories and replays of past events. I’ll share a personal example: a year ago today, one of my closest friends took his own life. While I have healed tremendously in this loss, on some level it still feels raw and new and there are moments where I can’t help but go back and emotionally re-live that day and the weeks that followed. Now I recognize that no matter what tricks or tools you may have, when you’re in an intense or upsetting situation, you may not have the capacity to reach for them and you may not even want to. Yes, it’s true that letting yourself feel whatever you’re feeling is just as important as taking steps towards feeling better, but you do have to want to feel better. Once you want to feel better, even if you can’t see how, it’s the tool or meditation that will help you get there if you trust it. The more often you practice any healing technique, the more ingrained in your subconscious they become. In my own experience with my friend, had I not been integrating various tools into my daily life for years, I may have stayed in my devastated, disconnected, out of body state for months or even longer. Even now, when I “go there,” the emotions don’t have nearly the same intensity and it’s a bit more effortless to shift into the loving and hilarious memories that bring me joy to think about. The Meditation for a Calm Heart has been a go-to when I’m feeling anxious, sad, overwhelmed, upset with a person or situation, or in need of some extra love. I usually do it for 11 minutes but you can try it for 3, 5, or 7 if that feels like too much. If you'd like some background music, click here for one of my favorite songs to go along with this particular meditation, but feel free to put any calming music that you enjoy.
Either sit on the floor in a cross legged position (easy pose) or if that's uncomfortable for you simply sit in a chair with both feet on the floor and straighten your spine. Close your eyes and gently focus up in between your eyebrows (your third eye point) or look straight ahead with the eyes 1/10th open.
Place your left hand on the center of your chest at the heart; the palm flat against the chest, fingers parallel to the ground, pointing to the right. With your right hand, have your thumb and pointer fingertips touching with the other fingers extended straight (gyan mudra – mudra of expansion, wisdom, & knowledge). Raise the hand up to the level of the shoulder; the palm faces forward, the three fingers not in Gyan Mudra point up, your elbow relaxed near your side, forearm perpendicular to the ground.
Concentrate on the flow of the breath. Inhale slowly and deeply, think about filling up your lungs and chest with air, then hold the breath in and retain it as long as you comfortably can. Do not strain at all! If you can only hold it comfortably for 3 seconds that’s enough, you will work up to longer the more you practice. Then exhale gradually and completely, think about emptying your lungs and chest. When the breath is totally out, lock the breath out for as long as possible. Again, do not strain, only hold for as long as what feels comfortable! Repeat this cycle of breathing and holding. To end: inhale and exhale strongly through your nose 3 times, then relax.
As much as we may want to, we can’t control what happens around us. We can, however, take ownership and responsibility in how we choose to experience every situation. This week, look at the ways (without judgement) you may be reactive or allowing yourself to be led by trauma, chaos, or emotions of the past or present, and actions of the people around you. Try the meditation and move proactively towards peace, healing, and strength from within.
With Love & Gratitude, Melody