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Opening The Heart Center

There are several ways to skin a cat, or so I hear.  There are also several ways to go about releasing the tension stored at the heart center.  Last week we proposed that our ability to process our emotions may play a part in keeping breast tissue healthy.  Whether or not you buy into my theory or not, releasing the tension around the heart center is a good thing to learn how to do.  Here are several tips for releasing your heart at both the physical level and at the emotional level.

1: Try speaking your mind a little more often.  Get if off your chest.  Allowing our heart to speak its voice and be witnessed by others is very validating.  Finding ways to let your voice be heard without anger, blame, or intensity is the goal.  If speaking is too much, then journaling is still an effective option.

2: Take a deep breath in and release it fully.  Every breath is a stretch.  Every breath cleanses the blood.  In addition, the deep breath pauses us.  It pauses our mind.  It pauses our forward intensity.  Very often when we are stressed and ‘in the zone,’ there is a tension we hold in our chest muscles.  Practice and see if you can feel how taking a deep breath helps to release this clenched area of the body.  Build a habit of breathing deeply and letting it go.

Remembering to change your breath is tricky.  I suggest picking three triggers that remind you to take that deep breath.  Try breathing deeply at every stop sign, before opening any door, and before answering any phone call.

3: Regular massage for the heart has tremendous benefits in releasing stored emotion and increasing self esteem.  In addition to moving lymph and relaxing muscle tension throughout the chest and breast, taking time out for a 10 minute massage relaxes our entire nervous system.  Touching this area of your body increases your awareness of both the tissues and the emotions stored here.  And last, becoming aware of your “normal” breast hardness, skin feel, and other details makes it much easier to zero in on any changes that may be taking place, aka early detection.

The techniques are pretty simple.  Start with feather-light “U” shaped strokes.  Lymph vessels are very delicate and deeper pressure will not help lymph flow.  Gently move from the center of the chest to the armpit.  Make several passes that include the entire chest, all pulling fluid gently towards the lymph nodes in the armpit.  Next, go over the entire area again with more depth and pressure.  Allow the massage to dig deeper into the breast without causing discomfort.  Press into the muscles under the breast, into the spaces between the ribs, into the arm pit area, and all the way up to the collar bone.  This deeper massage will help soften muscles and help to normalize breast tissue.  The entire massage should take from 6-12 minutes.

4: Build Compassion.  Read Compassion Is Learned to continue this series and learn practices to build compassion in your life.

Pink Thoughts

Throughout all of the media coverage on Breast Cancer Awareness, there is one aspect that gets little to no attention.  The chest lies squarely over the heart chakra, the center of emotion.  Can it be possible that emotional health can be tied to the physical health of this body area?

Let me set the stage with two concepts:  First, turn to the person next to you.  Ask them to close their eyes and then point at themselves.  More often than not, they will point at their chest.  That’s because this is our center of self identity and self esteem.

Second, I just want to bring up the phrase, “Bare your breast to the world.”  The old phrase shows that at some level we recognize the connection between this area of our body, vulnerability and strong emotion.  We recognize that there is internal drama in the act of exposing our ‘breast,’ of exposing our heart-felt opinions.

Experiment:  Take a moment to act out several emotions.  Actually create the emotion within yourself.  Witness what you have to do to create the following emotions within yourself:  anger, happiness, fear, sadness and resentment.  Pay particular attention to how you change the depth and rhythm of your breath.  Feel what tightens and where it tightens in the effort to create each different emotion.

How does this relate to breast cancer?  Failure to express your deep emotional self and failure to honestly process our emotion affects the fluid flow, nutrient exchange, and detoxification ability of the breast.  Clenching the muscles of the chest and ribs from intense emotion tightens the muscles affecting the lymph nodes and blood flow throughout the breast.  This tightness comes from current stress and unprocessed emotional drama.

Is it possible that years and years of reduced blood flow in the chest helps to build up a toxic or unhealthy cellular environment?  Is it possible that the energetic vibration from negative emotion such as resentment or negative self talk recurring over and over again makes us more susceptible to illness at the center of our self esteem?  My humble opinion is yes.  As a massage therapist working with thousands of people, this connection between the muscles of the ribs and chest, emotions and the breath has become easy to see in my clients.

Caution:  Cancer of any type is complicated; complicated to understand, to manifest and to cure.  Get a team of experts AND do everything you can on your own to stay healthy and hopefully avoid the significant disruption that cancer can cause in your life.

Next week we will cover natural ways to increase your awareness of the emotion/ breath connection.  We’ll also cover tips to help remove the physical tension at the heart.  Having more tools in your basket is always a good thing.