In 1995, researchers from the HeartMath Institute published an article in The American Journal of Cardiology showing that when people experience appreciation, compassion, or feelings of care, their heart rhythm variability becomes more coherent.

Likewise, when people experience stress, anxiety, fear, worry, anger, frustration, or blame, their heart rhythm variability becomes disordered and incoherent.

Now, what does that mean, and why does it matter?

Heart Rhythm Variability (HRV) is the variation in the time between each pair of heartbeats, and it occurs naturally and all the time. When HRV is jagged and disordered, it is said to be incoherent, and when it varies in a smooth and regular pattern, it is coherent. Incoherence is like the static on a radio station, often caused by an unregulated stream of thought and emotion. Coherence feels like a quieting of inner noise, like tuning into a clear signal on a radio station. According to the folks at the HeartMath Institute, when we experience a coherent HRV, we are more connected with our intuition and the deeper part of ourselves.

By attuning to feelings of compassion, appreciation, and care, you can increase your intuition.

Appreciation strengthens intuition. The more you pay attention to your heart and act in alignment with your heart’s signals, the stronger and clear the signals become. Eventually, this creates a new inner set-point and following the signals of your heart becomes a new habit.

But what if you don’t feel like you have anything to be grateful for?

In Western culture, there’s a myth that joy is a mystical experience. Sometimes, joy is ecstatic and magical, but most of the time, it’s an everyday occurrence that we don’t even notice unless we’re paying attention.

At the beginning of every client session, I ask my clients— What’s new and good? Sometimes, they stumble, not knowing what to say until I remind them that new and good does not have to mean brand-new and extraordinary.

In my family, we take turns asking each other what’s new and good at dinner each night. Most of the time, our answers are pretty mundane like, “We’re reading a new book in lit group today,” or “I bumped into a friend in town,” or “I wrote a new blog article” or “It’s cold outside, and now it’s warm inside.” Each breath, each heartbeat, each new day we wake up is new and good. Most of us are surrounded by so much goodness that we take for granted— running water, phones that work, good health. Simply noticing what is good is something new and good.

I invite you to practice taking in the good now.

Taking in the good for fifteen seconds, ten times per day adds up to two and a half minutes, taking basically no extra time from your day. Yet it is one of the most powerful ways to change your brain and your life.

When you’re first learning this practice, it can help to take a few minutes with it so that you can really feel it land in your body. When you get the hang of it, you will be able to effortlessly return to this practice throughout your days.

Let’s do this, shall we?

  • Begin by placing a hand on the center of your chest, your fingertips lightly touching your collarbones. This is your energetic heart center.
  • Focus your attention on your heart. Breathing a little slower and deeper than usual, feel the ebb and flow of your breath in and out of your heart center.
  • Bring to mind something or someone you appreciate— a person, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, or something else you care about.
  • Radiate a feeling of appreciation to them, breathing in love and breathing out gratitude.
  • Turn up the dial on the positive physical sensations and emotions, savoring how you feel. Feel the sensations sinking into you, knowing that they are becoming part of you. You might imagine that you’re a sponge, soaking in gratitude. Or that the feelings are flowing out of your heart like a river to the sea or a beam of light.
  • When you feel complete, thank yourself for taking time for this practice.

You may immediately feel a sense of warmth and aliveness as you do this practice. Or, you may not feel much at the beginning. Please be patient with yourself as you get the hang of the process. You were born with a connection to your heart, and with practice and patience, you will be able to reconnect.

I’d love to hear from you!

How do you feel after doing this practice?

Please share in the comments section below.


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