When I was growing up in Hollywood, Florida we used to go to an arcade on the beach, next to the Band Shell, that was filled with all kinds of fun things to do, including my favorite, pinball machines. I loved watching the small silver ball bouncing around, creating pings and dings, and whenever I managed to hit the lever fast enough, I could send the ball shooting back into the game.
Playing pinball was an odd combination of fun, fear, excitement and stress.
Over the years, I have noticed that my mind is a lot of like a pinball machine. A fear-filled thought pops up….I try the lever to push it away; sometimes I am successful, but often it lands in a hole and I am suddenly “losing.”
The fear becomes worry and anxiety and sometimes, even obsession.
I am definitely not having fun.
When I stop to examine these negative thoughts, most of the time I realize that they are projections of what “could” happen, not what is actually happening in the moment.
Worrying and stressing out is not useful in any way.
One day I decided to stop torturing myself and figure out a way to transform my fearful thinking…or what the 12-step folks call “stinking thinking.”
Today I have an “emotional, spiritual toolkit” that I access nearly daily when gripped by thoughts or feelings that are disturbing.
One of my favorite techniques is called a “Heart Lock-in” and it comes from the visionaries at Heartmath. Their research offers compelling evidence that the heart possesses its own intelligence and has great influence over how the body’s many systems align themselves. Heartmath scientists have found that when we focus on the area around the heart, while remembering and re-experiencing feelings such as love, appreciation or gratitude, the positive results can immediately be measured in our heart rhythms or so-called heart rate variability. They call this “heart coherence,” a highly desirable state that improves our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
Rather than try to “talk” myself out of having the disturbing thoughts, I change my focus completely with a “heart lock-in” and it only takes about five minutes.
Here’s how: Make sure you are in a quiet, comfortable space. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Shift your attention away from your mind and focus on the area around your heart. I use my imagination and see myself breathing in and out through my own heart.
Then I call up a memory of feelings of gratitude or appreciation. I re-experience these feelings as if they were happening right now in present moment awareness.
After a minute of re-experiencing this, I let it go and call up a memory of a time when I felt love. Any kind of love. And I imagine it’s happening in the present moment.
I gently send these feelings of love to myself, I allow these feelings to wash over me like an ocean wave.
Finally, I take three more deep breaths, and then open my eyes. Voila, no more negative thoughts!
With practice, a Heart Lock-In provides physical, mental and spiritual regeneration and resiliency. The next time you find yourself stuck in negativity, manage your emotions by shifting your focus to love, appreciation and gratitude.
If you wish to learn more about heart coherence and the techniques and products of Heartmath you can visit www.heartmath.com
Wishing you love, laughter and magical kisses,