“Listen to your heart and gut and you’ll be fine.”
I remember reading and hearing these words a lot growing up. It was the “cure-all” advice for someone like me desperately seeking purpose in my life.
But how can you listen to the heart and gut when the mind is spinning or when you are tangled up in knots from worry about the past or future? I have found these three ways:
1. Tune into the senses near the gut and heart. Sense the feeling: Is it hot, cold? What does the energy feel like? Is it heavy or light? Can you give it a color? This moves me out of the mind and into the sensation of the heart or gut area. That can lead to more questions to find out what this feeling is telling you. Eventually this brings you into the present moment.
Follow this with journaling. Write and free write about what these colors and feelings may mean. What are these sensations telling you? Usually our bodies hold the keys to wisdom and letting us know why we feel the way we do. We are out of practice with listening to it.
2. Move. Walk, shake, do chi-kung, anything. Then sit quietly and see if the mind has shifted to something different. It helps if you can exercise doing a cross-lateral movement (opposite hand to opposite leg. This happens in activities like walking and the elliptical machine). This stimulates greater communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and can help shut off the fight or flight response.
If we are firing off cortisol, we are not clear. The brain is out of balance because the emotional brain or limbic brain and the primitive brain are working over time to produce hormones to protect us. Slow conscious movement is a good way to rewire this stress response and get mental clarity. Be patient with this exercise.
3. Do something, anything, for somebody. Send an email that is kind; go to the store and smile to the cashier. Bake something for your family or for yourself. This will move you out of unproductive introversion into healthy gratitude and more positive state of mind. In turn this will help the coherence of the heart which will improve brain activity.
There is research to prove that a grateful appreciate person will have more coherence in their heart and head. This is exciting research from HeartMath.org
4. Get still with nature. Go to a tree and sit. Learn how much healing you can gain from a tree. Get the book, “The Wisdom of the Trees” by Jen Ward and enjoy learning to communicate with these wise beings. It will center you. This book taught me so much about trees, plants and nature.
Worry, doubt, depression can be habits. Take some time to break the habits of the mind to learn to tune into the gut and heart.