Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stress-Control Tools That Start With Your Heart

Step One: Focus on your heart as you breathe in. Then, as you breathe out, shift your focus to the solar plexus, right below the heart. Breathe that way for 10-30 seconds-breathing in through the heart and out through the solar plexus.
This will bring you to a "neutral state." If you're really stressed out, or have been through a dangerous ordeal, you may have to do it for up to a minute.

Step Two: Now, select some kind of positive attitude or feeling. Rozman suggests something simple like appreciation. Something you enjoy and appreciate: your child, your spouse, a great vacation you remember, or even last night's poker game.
"So, now you keep breathing in through the heart and out through the solar plexus, while you're pretending to breathe that feeling or attitude in and out. It starts to shift your whole physiology back into coherence, back into that synchronized mode; so it's not just relaxation, it's energization," she says.

Step Three: "Once you feel the appreciation-or just the attitude of it, if you can't feel anything-you want to 'lock' it in by imagining that you're building and restoring that positive energy right into your body. Picture your cells recouping, your muscles regaining, your nervous system smoothing out. Feel yourself recharging your inner battery," says Rozman.

"You're still breathing into the heart and out through the solar plexus casually-you're not forcing it. You've done 30 seconds to just get it there, then you did 30 seconds where you were finding that positive attitude, now you want to lock it in for another 30 seconds. You just keep visualizing building and storing that positive feeling that appreciation gives you."

You can select the attitudes to breathe that will help you offset a negative emotion or imbalance of any stressful situation you're in, she says. "Breathe deeply with the intent of shifting any moment to a [better] feeling or attitude, from neutral-'Okay, I'm in this hairy situation, let me breathe in the attitude of neutral or balance'-to compassion or care, patience, clarity or anything. As long as it's a positive attitude: what you would really like to feel right then. You can use it in real time when you're in the danger zone.
"For example, we do training for trauma centers and emergency workers, and they learn to breathe in compassion and breathe out care for the patient; or breathe in balance so they don't get freaked out by the blood and gore, and breathe out appreciation that they're helping someone." You can breathe in any positive attitude that you can remember feeling and that helps you be what you want to be, she says.

"It imprints that whole attitude on your physiology and your heart-you 'put your heart into it,' and it's your heart that drives it. This creates the coherent rhythm that signals the brain, and then the brain signals the immune system and the hormonal system, renewing them. It's a way to reboot your whole internal system."
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