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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.

Compassion Is Learned

The heart is a unique vessel.  It can never be filled to overflowing; it expands to hold as much love as you can grow.  By consciously increasing the amount of compassion in your heart, negative emotions get crowded out.  Compassion can becomes such a strong force within you that you begin to react with compassion instead of with negative emotions such as anger, resentment and frustration.

So how do we go about it?  How do we quiet and slow those negative emotional reactions that spring out of us when the rubber meets the road?  The answer may just surprise you; for many it may even be unpalatable.  Basically, you need to learn to love yourself first before you can love others.  Once you can show yourself compassion, then you can forgive and love others much more easily.

Begin with these basic practices and see what happens.

1: Pay extra attention to your self-talk.  We participate in a horrible amount of demeaning and negative talk towards ourselves.  Every time you catch yourself engaging in any sort of negative self talk, even gentle put downs.   Immediately say two nice things about yourself.

This practice is simple.  It does, however take time to sink in, so have patience and keep it up.  Eventually the affirmations will overpower the negatives.

2: Pamper yourself a little.  Allowing yourself a few comforts is very affirming.  Many of us habitually deny ourselves even the simplest of pleasures.  We put everyone else ahead of ourselves as we serve our families, our bosses and our fears.  While you may not need a monthly pedicure, you are worth it.  And when it comes down to it, you do need to value, love and respect yourself.  Show that you do with action.  The actions will speak louder than any words.  That includes any negative talk lingering in your head.  Keep proving it with action and it will sink in.

Pampering yourself doesn’t need to be a huge or expensive thing.  While I firmly believe every mom should get a massage every month, the pampering can be shown in small and simple ways and be just as effective.

3: When someone annoys you, look at yourself first.  Look back to a time when you acted the same way.  Look back to a time when you showed the same behaviors.  We are all capable of being the bad guy.  By looking at ourselves we gain access to commonality.  We have this capacity to be the bad guy in common with that other person, thus we can relate. The more commonality we have with people, the easier it is to find compassion towards them.

Caution:  The level to which these practices strike you as unappealing and difficult is the same level to which you need them.

Remember:  Using compassion to help release drama at the heart center can only be a good thing.  If it helps reduce our susceptibility to breast cancer as well as filling our lives with more positive emotion, so be it.