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Harmonize Heart and Mind

 

“Every moment of every day, there’s a conversation

between our hearts and brains.”

Gregg Braden


Watercolor Balance Heart & Mind in Pregnancy


Modern life has taught us to experience daily life and relationships from the four inches above our brow. Thus, we see the world as we think. To the degree we think our way through experience, we bypass sensing it, feeling it, and being intuitive in it.


Everyone, mothers and caregivers, are conditioned to value a cerebral relationship with pregnancy and birthing. While analytical thinking facilitated progress in understanding the physiology of childbirth and newborn care and led to life-saving management, it also eclipsed our instincts and trust in an intuitive sense. Being pregnant and giving birth are embodied, sensory, social, and even sacred experiences, or used to be. But when pregnant women are viewed and view themselves as obstetric patients, they think and behave accordingly: researching, planning, and worrying their way through their childbearing years. The more we think and worry, the less we laugh, sing lullabies, and take time to commune with nature.


Overthinking leads to anxiety, stress, and imagining what could happen (even when it isn’t happening). The intensification of the medicalization of prenatal care has become a burden of decision-making and, for many, a mental- minefield of apprehension.


From Mind-Full to Heart-Centered Practice


In mind-centered approaches, including mindfulness, we must use the mind to monitor the mind. While this practice raises awareness of how often we identify with and react to emotions, it also invites an inner dialogue in self-judgment. We take up mind-monitoring because we believe our thoughts and feelings arise from the mind, but new research dispels this assumption.

 

In the video “Small Brain Found in the Human Heart,” renowned author Gregg Braden explains that it is our brains that receive messages from the heart, not vice versa. The heart does more than pump blood. In the heart, there are 40,000 neurons (which are like neurons in the brain) that communicate with the brain to determine our thoughts. Here’s how: when we are feeling “negative emotions” (fear, doubt) the heart sends a chaotic signal to the brain which responds by releasing stress hormones to helps us respond to the real or imagined threat. On the other hand, when the heart is feeling safe, compassion, appreciation, awe, it signals the brain to release healing hormones, enhancing our immune system and well-being.1

 

When problem-solving, we know the difference between what happens when

we ask our brain versus our heart what to do. When we ask our heart, the answer comes quickly and with clarity. Braden says this is because the Heart doesn’t judge; your heart simply tells you what is true for you. But when we use logic, the process is slower and more convoluted because the brain has to process through a circuit of information and associations, including weighing issues of doubt, self-esteem, and consequences. Overthinking interferes with intuition.2


Heart-Centered Practice as Prenatal Preparation


Our thoughts, perceptions, and responses throughout the day are happier and more “positive” and intuitive when we come from a heart-centered place, and we feel more peace, calmness, joy, and gratitude than when our mind is in charge. “Resiliency and the experience of thriving rather than striving become the natural outcome.”3

 

Before we were seven years old, when we were still in our innocence, we naturally saw and felt the world through our hearts. But gradually, as we were put under the spell and values of Western education, to live in our heads, we left behind being awed by nature, moved by poetry, creativity, and daydreaming.


HOW to HARMONIZE HEART & MIND

 

People try to be heart-centered by thinking about being in the heart. Instead, Braden offers us the following simple, three-step practice to re-establish heart-brain coherence.

 

1.     Begin by shifting awareness from the mind to the heart. It may help to focus your attention to gently touching your heart center with your fingers or hand.

 

2.     Breathe slowly, to the count of five, during inhalation and exhalation—exhale as if the breath comes from your heart. We breathe slowly and evenly when we are safe; it is easier to rest in the heart when we feel safe. Gregg Braden explained how this practice slows our brain wave frequency to 0.1 Hertz, which is on the threshold between feeling and hearing; it is the frequency whales use to communicate. Try to feel the subtle vibration of 0.1 Hertz in your heart.

 

Excellent video on scientific research beginning in 1990 how to Harmonize Heart-Brain-Earth” by Gregg Braden.


 

3.     Then feel these four words as you repeatedly whisper them to your heart: 

            Appreciation, Care, Compassion, and Gratitude.


You can practice daily Heart-Mind Centering before falling asleep, upon waking, or before prenatal appointments and after. After taking up this practice, it takes 72 hours to build or re-establish the heart-brain network.

 

With age I’ve become more cerebral and jaded, so the steps the first time I tried this I noticed I was still in my head. Gradually, with each practice, I began to feel the difference when I was feeling with my heart. Now I practice it briefly throughout the day.

 

My Reflections on “Being in the Heart” during Labor


When I was laboring at home, a contraction brought me to my knees; I couldn’t stand again. I was restless, deep in Laborland, and wailing through the pain. So, I began mindlessly inching my way on hands and knees through a short, dark hallway into the baby’s nursery. After each contraction, one knee moved slowly toward the room, then the other, and then another contraction consumed me. Each time the pain would come on, I felt the luminous black, eternal, silent Heart of the Mother enveloped me; I felt absolutely loved and protected. When the pain disappeared, I became vaguely aware of my surroundings. I eagerly waited for another contraction so that I could be in the Heart of the Great Mother again. Although I've never stopped reveling in that powerful experience, I did not consider it a Gift or Hint to take up “abiding in the Heart” or in the Heart of the Mother as a lifelong practice! Looks like I’m getting another Invitation.

 

            Pam

 

References

1.  Small Brain Found in the Human Heart

    

2.  Gregg Braden. Two Powerful Methods to Awaken Heart and Brain Connection

 

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