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The science and healing behind the heart-mind connection


The body and mind connection is well known. But the heart and mind connection perhaps not so much. The brain and the nervous system are intrinsically linked constantly sending signals to each other via the vast neurological network. Not only this, but hormones also are released or supressed as a result of signals sent via the body to the brain, or by the brain to the body. The brain and the heart produce the love hormone, oxytocin which has a protective influence on the heart. Oxytocin is also linked to pain relief. Adrenalin and Cortisol are the stress hormones and they lead to inflammation. Chronic pain is related to increase risk for heart problems and strokes.
 The link with hormones and their release extends to feelings of great joy, or  fight, flight, freeze reactions. In the case of stress, cortisol and adrenaline are released throughout the body. If the body does not fight or flee, the hormones continue to circle around the body where they can – and often do – cause harm.
This connection helps us to understand why periods of anxiety, depression and even anger shame and guilt can have a physical effect on the heart, and other areas of the body. There is strong link between IBS and bowel diseases and stress. It is well known that some people do actually die from a ‘broken heart’. When one part of the body is out of sync, it can have a huge adverse effect elsewhere.
When we are nervous, excited. Stressed or angry, the heart may speed up, and may slow down in periods of depression. It isn’t just the actual heart beat that is affected, blood pressure can be affected and the electrical mechanism of the heart can also be disturbed or changed. It is well known that prolonged highly stressful situations lead to increased risk of heart attack or stroke due to the increased irregular heart rhythms and increased inflammation.
The heart has always been believed to be the source of joy and happiness and equally in the opposite of a heavy heart. Too much of either is not helpful. Balance comes in being able to maintain calm in periods of prolonged stress and not crashing after a period of extreme prolonged happiness!
Meditation and hypnosis are very effective in helping to reduce stress levels and increase serotonin (the calm hormone) and  dopamine (the satisfaction happy hormone). Couple this with laughter therapy releasing endorphins (the feel good hormone) and you have a pathway to healing and feeling better in yourself. Hugging and being tactile (like being soothed as you would a young child) can also help to release oxytocin which just makes you feel good. Meditation and hypnosis are very effective in reducing inflammatory markers helping strengthen the immune system as well as having a calming peaceful influence on the individual in a short space of time.
Life will always throw us challenges, whether that be a period of stress, or the death of a loved one. Learning how to regulate your mind and body can not only speed the process of healing, but can help with building resilience to cope with the next challenge in a less highly stressed manner. This in turn leads to less physical damage to our bodies meaning we are less open to infections and illnesses that occur when our immune system is low or stress levels are high. Hypnosis is not just about healing, it also preventative, calming and a wonderful way to incorporate self-care that can lead to better decision making, less stress and a calmer disposition. What’s not to love?! A calmer mind leads to a happier heart.
The following exercise not only helps you helps you to connect more deeply with the body, it can help relax muscles and make you feel more composed and calm.
Make sure you are safe and comfortable.
Take a couple of slow breaths in expanding the stomach fully, and make the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. On the third breath, close your eyes and relax the body. Release the tension from your neck, your shoulders, your stomach. Release those fingers and focus for a few moments on your breathing.
Notice how each inhale feels. Feel that oxygen flowing around the body. And notice the exhale, how the body relaxes with each out breath.  Now as you breath, imagine each breath filling that heart space and notice any sensations you may feel in your heart space. Don’t try to change anything, just notice.
Now take your right hand and gently place on the inside of your left wrist and feel your pulse. Imagine feeling that pulse now in both your wrists. Let that spread now into your fingers. Just notice how it feels.
Now feel that pulse in your heart space and notice how your pulse is connected from the heart to the wrists to the fingers. Feel it in your heart space.
Imagine seeing your heart in your mind. Nurture it, feel it. And imagine it pumping around that wonderful oxygen from each of those slow steady breaths. Feel the synchronicity of the body steady and calm. Feel that oxygen rejuvenating every part of your body, every limb, every organ, bringing peace and vitality. Bring your awareness back to your breathing or your pulse when your mind begins to wander.
Continue this for a few minutes until you feel calm.
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