The Heart Breath
Sometimes, when things become too much, we think the safest thing to do is close our hearts and cut ourselves off from the world. We try to protect ourselves from pain and the difficult parts of being human. It can even be unconscious, like the “freeze” response of the nervous system where we detach or disassociate from life. But if we truly want to experience the highs, we need to embrace the lows, too. If we numb the darkness, then we also numb the light. From joy to sadness, love to loss and gratitude to grief. And in order to feel that fully, we need to keep our hearts open and breathe through it all.
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In today’s episode of The Prana + Patchouli Podcast, I’m going to guide you through a visualisation meditation and pranayama practice called heart breathing to calm your energy and self-regulate.
Close your eyes and get comfortable. Soften your jaw, shoulders, belly and hips.
Begin to breathe in and out, slowly and deeply through your nose.
Keep your inhale and exhale even in length, without pausing in between, like you’re tracing the shape of a circle in your mind.
Continue to breathe in this way: breathe in fully and breathe out completely. Full circle.
Now visualise your favourite flower at the centre of your heart. As you breathe in, its delicate petals start to unfurl, open and bloom. As you breathe out, the petals close again. Imagine the flower opening and closing with your breath. Little by little, your heart opens with each new circle of breath. Feel the intelligence of your breath. Breathe into any parts of you that feel restrictive or painful. Let those feelings flow through you.
If you like, you can silently repeat a mantra as you breathe: I open my heart through the extremes of life. I choose to stay open.
Breathe and expand. Breathe and soften.
When it feels right to you, let your vision of the flower fade and let go of your mantra. Return to your natural breath, taking one more inhale and as you exhale, open your eyes to the room.
Come back to this practice anytime you need to release stuck energy and emotions, open your heart and be gently nudged back into the flow of life.
I’ll close this episode with our centering thought for today. Take this mantra with you as you move through your week:
I open my heart through the extremes of life. I choose to stay open.
Until next time, use this to encourage that open heart, especially when you want to shut down from the world.
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