Welcome Meghan, a member of the Clean team for the last 10 months and scholar of so many things, it's impossible to list them all here! She brings her brilliance and passion to all aspects of Clean and our community is super lucky to benefit from her research, thoughts and overall enthusiasm. We're really excited to have her share some deep cleansing stuff, moving beyond the physical and working with the "other stuff" of cleansing, the heart stuff. So get ready to harmonize and experience a really cool coherence of mind and body cleansing!
Greetings Clean Community! A large component of the 21 day cleanse that we're all familiar with is eliminating toxins from the body. Although to limit it to that, would do a disservice to the wholeness achievable through the bigger picture of cleansing.
My health journey has involved it’s fair share of the physical stuff, but the work I will focus on here is about the “other stuff.” This “stuff” is multi-faceted. It is the stuff of the mind, the spirit, and the emotions. It is the work of relationships to the world and to the self. (Food definitely has a place here too). It may not seem tangible at first glance, but it affects us in very physical ways. In the Clean Program, Dr. Junger has always emphasized the importance of “quantum toxins.” He describes these as “thought patterns, or attachments to negative feelings that actually influence our physical chemistry.” So in the process of cleansing and finding balance, eliminating physical toxins is an important part of the whole. But there are other parts too, and these parts are equally important and what I'd like to delve into here since they are the parts I've found most intriguing and challenging on my own journey!
So, without further ado, I introduce something I'm super passionate about; the Heart Coherence Meditation.
My therapist recently taught me this, so that I have a resource for self soothing if and when distressing thoughts, feelings, or body sensations arise. It is not the only meditation method I practice, but it might be my favorite.
I think of this meditation kinda like a home base. It's my safety zone. When I'm there, I'm free from my monkey mind, or what Dr. Junger refers to as “the constant, un-directed thinking that often brings anxiety, worry and distraction into our everyday lives.". My mind is at peace, and the best part is that I can go there anytime. The other cool thing is that even when I’m not there, the work I've done keeps on working.
Let me break that down. The object of this particular meditation is to obtain heart coherence. A coherent heart is one that beats at a consistent rhythm. In other words, the heart’s rhythm’s and the nervous system harmonize. Then, the other systems in our body synch up to the heart rhythms, and we become coherent as a whole. When our bodies are finding this balance, we experience “more mental clarity, creativity, and better problem solving abilities, which means it’s easier to find solutions and better ways of handling stressful situations” (HeartMath*).
What's super cool, is that you can watch this happen. HeartMath has created a computer software that uses biofeedback to measure the real time level of your heart's coherence. In my last therapy session, after I had been practicing the meditation a bit, my counselor hooked me up to this software. I clipped this little thing onto my earlobe, and then I could look at my heart beat on the screen in front of me. What we discovered was that my heart was already pretty coherent! This is likely because I have practiced yoga and meditation before. The exciting implication of this, is that even when you aren’t doing the meditation, the effects of the meditation are still apparent. This also goes to show how amazing meditation and yoga can be! (Check out this 5 minute meditation guided by Dr. Junger!
I believe this particular technique is so effective at fostering heart coherence because it calls on the power of gratitude. Gratitude, and other positive emotions, have been shown to immediately change heart rhythms. This shift then launches a "favorable cascade of neural, hormonal, and biochemical events that benefit the entire body. These effects are both immediate and long lasting." (HeartMath)
So I guess you want me to get to the good stuff, and tell you how to do it! Really, it’s pretty simple.
- Find a comfortable seated position. You may want to be cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Either way, sit up straight. Find a point slightly in front of you to softly focus your gaze on, or close your eyes if you prefer.
- Bring your attention to your breath. Don’t change anything, just observe. Then, find a breathing pattern that is deep, but flows naturally and smooth.
- Now, simply become aware of the area around your heart. Focus all your attention there. It may help to place your hand over your heart.
- As you continue to breathe, pretend like you are breathing through this area in and around your heart. Practice this for about a minute. Observe if anything changes.
- Keep breathing through your heart, bringing to mind someone or something (a memory), that you appreciate or that reminds you of feeling grateful. Really focus on feeling what it feels like, to feel grateful as you continue to breathe through your heart. You can do this for any amount of time you choose. The longer you do it of course, the easier it will get!
- Practice this as often as possible, and see what changes.
That's it for now, so until next time, go forth, and practice!
*The pamphlet by HeartMath is called “Reducing Stress and Creating Better Health.”
Meghan Goyer is involved with customer support and project development as part of the Clean team. She's from Athens, GA where she received an M.A. in religion from the University of Georgia, where she also studied religion and painting as an undergrad. Her studies focused on ritual and how it can be used intentionally as a tool for healing in today’s world. Meghan’s passion for healing is also reflected in her yoga practice and teaching, work with interfaith dialogue, community building, non-violent communication, work-life balance, emotional intelligence, creativity, spirituality, mindfulness, and nutrition. She believes that health is a multifaceted big picture, and that in addition to promoting a cleaner world through living a clean lifestyle, love and fun are both super important parts of good health, and she encourages them widely.