When a client asked “What is Open Heart Therapy?” We went on to talk about the effects of being emotionally hurt, I think most of us have some experience of this.
Does anyone sail through life without being wounded at some point?
When we feel hurt, scared and rejected the natural response is to withdraw, close down and push away in order to protect ourselves.
This shutting down often takes place in the heart area. It can be a gradual closing down from small childhood hurts to a more sudden snapping shut after a major rejection.
The fall-out from this ‘protection’ can be devastating and one of the consequences is poor communication. In our efforts to keep ourselves safe, we can end up closing down in the throat area, meaning that open honest conversation is a no-go.
Instead of juicy heartfelt conversations that lead to real intimacy and healthy relationships, important dialogues left unsaid will have negative effects. Couples I’ve worked with talk about avoiding direct eye contact, instead talking about mundane things like the weather or “What’s for dinner.” Humour can also be used to avoid genuine connection or worse still, no conversation at all as couples polarise to opposite ends of the bed, room, home or country.
Rather than searching or waiting impotently for someone else to provide the magical key that will open our hearts and free our speech, it is possible to take control and do it ourselves.
In a secure environment we can gently work on the business of improving our relationships, with ourselves first and then as a natural evolution, with others.
The benefits of this heart work are manifold as we learn to accept our unique selves and practice self-love, we can breathe more easily, feel authentic, empowered and more comfortable in our skin.
When we fill our own cup first, we have more to offer others, you cannot serve from a depleted cup.
Back in 2004 I ran the first ‘Open Heart Therapy’ workshop in Holmes Place and a few times since then but NOW definitely seems the right time to open up the heart chakra and get the other centres energised and spinning.
If you’re ready for the ‘Open Heart Therapy’ challenge you can book your space on this Saturday’s workshop Registration closes Friday 5th March 2021 at 1.00pm. Book here or drop me an email at Sue@thestresshacker.com to join us.
In 2004 I ran my first personal development ‘Open Heart Therapy’ workshop and whilst successful, I sensed it was ahead of it’s time.
So many people are saying it’s the right time for personal development and the success of last weeks Open Heart Therapy workshop proved it for me.
But what does Open Your Heart even mean? As a therapist of 30 years I know too well how people shut down when they’re hurt. Whilst that’s no revelation, it is interesting to recognise that it’s the people closest to us who are capable of hurting us the most.
It’s the friends, family, lovers and partners who we allow to get close, those who we open our hearts to that we can feel most wounded by.
When we are honest and open-hearted we can be vulnerable. If betrayed and hurt in that space then naturally we lose faith and can be loathe to experience that again.
If you burn your hand when you put it into a fire, ouch! It hurts. You’d be crazy to do it again. The same kind of things happen when we’re hurt emotionally.
Fundamentally the heart is a pumping muscle which can tighten and contract like any other muscle in the body. With sufficient reason(s) to become restricted, it can metaphorically, close down and because it’s a muscle it can’t judge and can shut out people who haven’t hurt you.
The consequences of emotional numbing in the heart can have the knock-on effect of deadening passion in other areas of life, we can feel drained have that “whats the point, who cares” type of thinking .
In addition, being emotionally blocked can also inhibit our ability to speak our truth openly and assertively.
This is because the energy centres above and below the heart are adversely affected. We can feel weakened energetically, loose will-power and find it hard to fight addictions or stick to a healthy lifestyle.
These are good enough reasons for personal development and attempts to heal the heart.
The thing is muscles need stretching and exercising and this is what my Open Heart Therapy workshop offers it aims to help you to move forward and heal the past if you’re ready. Are you ready for some personal development?
“It totally met my objectives, mentally and physically.” DB 12/02/2021 “It also made me very aware of the impact of parents’ behaviours on their children…Yes, would definitely recommend…” NS 14/02/2021 “I’d like to say it was very good the workshop today, very beneficial and very well put together…I have already recommended it to other people!” MF 12/02/2021 “It went really quickly – I would like to do it all over again!” SB 15/02/2021
How are you? It certainly feels like we’re being tested on so many levels in these changeable times.
I’m sure you know that among other things, stress is a feeling of not being in control which can trigger all kinds of emotional, psychological and behavioural problems.
But how to deal with it? One of the main keys to dealing with stress is to develop flexibility so that we improve our bounce-ability factor and become resilient.
Dare I say the most flexible tree is the bamboo because of it’s ability to bend easily in the wind and then stand tall again.
How can we become more flexibile? Well I could say take up yoga, develop new hobbies, improve your way of thinking by listening to hypnotherapy programmes. But better still, find your own ways.
Write down 10 things you could do to become more flexible mentally and physically.
Along with sending you my good wishes for the holiday period I want to offer a couple of approaches to help manage stress, anxiety and any other difficult feelings.
Please do the exercise, as it’s experiential, it will only that will take about 7 minutes of your life and it may prove valuable. Try it now.
1. Sit somewhere away from distractions and close your eyes. 2. Repeat the following words to yourself silently and mentally. “Be” “Just Be” repeat this periodically until you find your breathing slowing and a sense of quietness beginning to emerge.
You might find the next bit challenging and counter intuitive on one level but just go with it.
3. Invite the negative thought/feeling/emotion into the quieter space by simply saying “I welcome… (anxiety, frustration, sadness, headache, stomach churning or whatever.)
4. Imagine them as an unexpected, slightly unwanted guest who’s arrived at your door but your good manners dictate that you’re going to invite them in anyway!
5. When you’ve repeated ” I welcome” let’s say anxiety in, notice where it lives. Do you feel it in your chest? Or stomach for example.
Don’t get lost in the thought or feeling and don’t get too involved, stay mildly detached, you’re merely observing it.
6. After a few minutes of this, welcome in the opposite feeling/emotion/thought. So you might then say silently “I welcome peace and calmness” again repeating it several times.
Notice what peace and calmness feel like and where these feelings sit in your body.
Another odd thing to suggest but do it anyway…
7. Begin to move back and forth between the words “I welcome anxiety and tension” then “I welcome peace, calmness and tranquility”
8. Finally after doing that for a couple of minutes, imagine you can step back away from the opposites and repeat silently “Be” “Just Be”
Let me know how that works for you.
The second gift I would like to offer is a free mind/body training that will lead to a more relaxed in control you.Download it and practise it until you’re able to do it anywhere anytime on your own. It’s my gift to you along with my fervent wishes that you be well and happy.
It’s a tried and tested method that with repetition will give you a greater sense of control in your world.
If you are going to get through the 2nd lockdown with your mind intact and with a stronger bounce-ability factor it may well be down to you and you only!
Before you read this, grab a notebook… this could be your most valuable resource as the weeks go by.
I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, DON’T text or type, WRITE. There’s something about engaging your mind and handwriting simultaneously that makes these exercises much more powerful.
What if it’s true that no-one knows what you need better than you?
Then all you need to do is answer these questions and take your own advice and follow your own prescription.
1. Stop Scaring Yourself!
How do you do this? Write down 7 or more things that you think that make you feel worried, anxious and scared.
Include any pictures, images or past memories that you constantly revisit, you know, those things that help keep you in a state of fear.
Now write down as many ways that you could stop yourself from doing this, for example “I could choose different thoughts” (write down those different thoughts).
Choose different images, find pictures in magazines that are uplifting and positive. Put them where you’ll see them regularly, if that’s not possible stick them inside a cupboard or wardrobe door. Look at them a lot.
Create New Movies: Re-run any memories or flashbacks that are negative but this time with a positive outcome. For example if you have pictures in your mind in which you are the victim, now see the perpetrator(s) being disempowered in as many ways as possible.
Keep running the new images with brighter colours for example seeing a bully as smaller, insignificant and dis-abled from their bullying ways. Regularly revisit this new ‘memory’ until you feel bored with it.
When you do this exercise always leave yourself looking bigger or taller stronger, more empowered and assertive.
2. Pull Yourself Together
Look again at the image of the Russian Dolls above and remember that you carry all of you inside. This means that more often than not your scary thoughts have nothing to do with the here-and-now!
It’s true; you may be having “What if” thoughts that have no bearing on your current situation. They could be coming from a younger you. Equally so you may be constantly spending time in the future worrying about what could happen tomorrow, next week or even a year from now.
When we consider that truly the only bit that’s real is now, why are you spending your valuable energy roaming back into the past and forwards into the future?
If you really stop and think about this, it means that you’re constantly cheating yourself out of time and the ‘now’!
The chances are that every anxiety provoking thought is either about something that’s already happened or something that might happen. Practice being herenow more frequently and one way to do this is to link something to a scary thought.
For example you’re thinking “ What if I can’t pay the next heating bill”
Shout inside your head “Get Up And Shake Off” Now stand up, feet apart and shake your hands and arms. Quickly! Shake each foot and leg … just like swimmers do before a race, shake off the excess adrenalin. Do this for a minute then take a deep breath and as you breathe out make a loud “Haaaaa” sound repeat twice.
That’s it! Do it every time you have an anxious thought, this way you’re changing your ‘state’ empowering yourself and getting back to the present.
3. Laughter Is The Best Medicine.
Remember who and what makes you laugh. Find as many films, jokes and books that make you laugh. Be sure you talk to the friend who makes you laugh (the one you have that chemistry with) regularly.
4. Exercise More
You must be sick of hearing this by now but someone has gone to the trouble of researching this and there’s tons of evidence to show that a brisk half an hours walk does wonders for the mind and body.
If you need a goal see how quickly you can reach a destination each time you walk.
If you need motivation buddy up (at a distance) or meet your walking buddy a location for incentive.
See what the NHS has to say about the benefits of exercise.
If you’re beating yourself up for something you did in the past that was wrong perhaps it’s time to forgive.
Mistakes are valuable ways of growing and learning, just ask a Scientist, they constantly get it wrong, until they find the right way.
What I’m saying is, it’s normal to screw up you’re not perfect and never will be!
If you hurt others by screwing up and you feel brave enough and it’s appropriate, then contact them and tell them how sorry you are for the pain or trouble you caused. Don’t look for forgiveness from them, that’s your business but aim to make amends if and where you can.
With that done, if you can be sure you will not repeat that behaviour then forgive yourself and practice forgiving yourself until your wrongs sit more easily with you. You do that by saying “your name… I forgive you, you are forgiven now.”
It’s remarkable how many people beat themselves up for years for things they’ve done. I’m obviously not condoning bad behaviour but if you’re genuinely remorseful, would never do that thing again… then be kind and gentle to yourself and forgive.
If you need to take a short break away from the family or just to reset remember to help yourself to my 7 Minutes of Zen download…this is what one person said “It’s fabulous!”
You may have been wondering where I’d got to and why I haven’t written many blogs recently. Thank you for emailing and asking it’s prompted me to let you know that in the spirit of mental health awareness I have been taking care of my own wellbeing.
At the start of the pandemic in March like many, I began working from home, with clients online and teaching zoom yoga classes, my working week soon became busy. As a result I found myself pretty much cooped up in one room for quite long periods of time.
Although I’m fortunate to have a great view of some trees and sky the fact remains it’s a small room.
To counter stress, the threat of any mental health issues and to keep active, I started cycling and got hooked!
I love the freedom it offers and have discovered places in my area that I didn’t know existed. This activity is so good for the mind because cliché or not, it is true that a change is as good as a rest.
As a result, I have developed more resilience on all levels in addition to feeling fitter; I’ve improved lung capacity and muscle strength
Is your main trigger for frustration technology?
Early on in Lockdown, I had some really frustrating IT issues, at one point my entire website was wiped, boy did that stress me out! In an attempt to stop myself from throwing the laptop out of the window and to protect my mental health and wellbeing, I took off on my bike instead.
And this is when my mental health awareness kicked in
because within 10 minutes I observed a complete shift in my thinking and noticed that I was simply enjoying the moment. Looking at the trees and breathing in the fresh air I felt free and happy. I’d let all that tension and aggravation go by changing my activity.
But how do you make that kind of shift in your wellbeing if you don’t happen to like cycling I hear you ask. The answer is to change your activity sufficiently to alter your emotional state, which will in turn will affect your mental health positively.
Fortunately there’s a really easy solution and that’s yoga.
I’m not even talking about poses or sequences here. I’m talking about Yoga Nidra the practice sometimes called deep yogic sleep.
Here’s how it works, by regular practice we train the body to relax quickly and develop the ability to step back and observe the impact that certain thoughts, ideas and images have on the physical body.
As such we develop awareness, more self control and as a by-product better mental health. Yoga Nidra teaches us to detach from things that can trigger unwanted emotion (unless someone wipes your website that is!) helps us to develop mental resilience and to feel more empowered.