Achieve steadiness of mind or equanimity with your daily routine. This develops the ability to stay balanced and calm no matter what your situation. External circumstances are unpredictable, with uncertainties, challenges, and surprises around each corner. Inner peace and strength become our allies as we navigate through this turbulence that makes up our life journey. With these positive qualities, you stay calm in your life’s adventures, learn emotional control, and gain a solid connection with yourself. You can then become receptive to solutions, even in the face of great adversity.
Learn the Ability to Stay Calm and Balanced No Matter What Your Situation
“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.”
Marcus Aurelius:Roman Emperor
Tell Yourself There is No Room in Your Mind For Worry, Fear or Anxiety
Patience is the ability to stay steadfast and composed in challenging times both large and small. Limitless patience involves being steadfast and present at the moment with a calmness that lets you watch as events unfold without you forcing them without attachment to a future outcome. Tell yourself there is no room in your mind for worry, fear or anxiety, only inner peace, calm and trust through your heart’s wisdom and guidance.
First, acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings or emotions you may be avoiding. Allowing yourself these emotions puts you in a position of strength. It helps you to listen to the still voice within your heart. Accessing this powerful wisdom allows you to focus on enjoying where you are along your path and to savour each experience as it presents itself.
Living from the heart takes courage and determination. Sometimes we have to leave the comfortable and predictable future others have created for us and enter our own journey towards a life in alignment with what our heart’s desire is and believe it is possible.
Our Primal Brain Looks for Fear and Can Become Reactive
Years of counselling people with anxiety, trauma, and depression, has enlightened me on the human condition. We are all works in progress with raw potential and capable of self-improvement to become the best versions of ourselves. Our primal brain looks for fear and can become reactive. By understanding our biology, we can maintain a calm state of mind despite challenges, chaos and painful life circumstances.
Notice what is going on in your inner world, and what you are doing with your thoughts and actions. Practice letting go of fears about the future and stop ruminating on past events. Instead of wishing you could control challenges and problems, accept the circumstances.This does not mean you condone what has happened; the grief and loss is extremely painful and you want to acknowledge your feelings and express them and allow yourself to heal. Although equanimity means the practice of staying calm and centred despite adversity, the way we cope with adversity, loss, and distress is individual. We are better equipped to help ourselves and others when calm, which is a healthier state for our heart, health and immune system. If we show resilience during humbling failures or debilitating losses depends on our perspective.
Each person handles adversity and loss and distress differently with their own perception of the event. Some go over the edge with small demands, others show amazing courage and strength in handling massive challenges. How you re-frame and put events in perspective and use mental imagery influences the way you see the circumstance. For example, if you have a painful experience you recalled, you may have an emotional thought surrounding the situation, but if you reframe and evaluate it differently you can move toward a solution. Practice the fine art of relaxing and then re-framing your story of the situation with a helpful solution. This builds strength and resilience during a stressful event.
Call to Action: REST
R- Relax your jaw, shoulders and hands , take a deep breath and say RELAX on the exhale.
E-Evaluate.Take a big step back outside of the issue. How could you reframe this situation to improve this moment?
S-Stay solution focused. Find the wise voice within you that knows what to do.Become quiet, present and still for two minutes and ask for your wisdom within yourself: we all have it.
T-Take action.What can you do to improve how you feel right now?Imagine the best outcome, despite the chaos. Practice emotional control and steadiness of mind daily. This does not come easily to us due to our primal tendency to be reactive and anxious to stay safe. You are not denying the chaos, but can helping others shine a torch on a new direction. Never underestimate your ability to be compassionate to others, and uplift them during painful times.
Seek calm everyday instead of waiting for it to happen. Accepting that things change lessens your suffering. Equanimity helps us stay calm during painful events. The world is unstable and consistently changing. The practice of equanimity means you learn non-reactivity without being carried away or swept by the good, the bad and the ugly and find wisdom instead.
It was a blustery, snowy morning the day I met Elena. There was a rawness in the air as the snow fell in huge wet flakes. Our ranching community of 100 Mile House was in a vast acreage of wind and cold. I was finishing notes on neuroscience research as I listened to the wail of the feathery drifts of snow against closed windows. The dim light from my retro cowboy lamp was one of the many pieces of western decor in my office at the Mental Health and Substance Use Clinic. Beside the lamp was a painting by a local artist of a cowboy and his horse on a hill overlooking the rolling golden hills of the Cariboo. He was gazing in awe and admiration at the beauty of the land.
My door creaked open, and the motion caught my attention. On cue, a smile lit up my face, as I waited to convey warmth to the person on the other side. My door dragged intermittently to a pause halfway open. Then the moment hung, and my whole being gravitated towards meeting the face behind it. Unknowing to me, it would be one of the longest moments of Elena’s life; the woman trapped on the other side of the door with anxiety symptoms. Her indecision held her in place, reverberating in shudders through the door to which she clung.
“Hello Elena,” I said, smiling.
The door to my office stopped midway with a creak. Nothing happened for several seconds.Then a mane of dark hair came into view again, as unruly as a lioness. She looked like a racoon with doe eyes with rivulets of mascara ran down her cheeks. She drifted cautiously, so that when she crossed the threshold, she hid her face from me.
“Would you like a glass of water?” I asked. She didn’t reply.
Rocking back and forth in her seat, her knees remained tight at her chin. She shook her hair so that tangled brown hair fell over her face, concealing her doe eyes, the mascara making tracks down each cheek. It was a defence mechanism that was getting in the way, and I imagined her face with the hair pushed away, listening intently. I sought to establish trust gradually with every word.
The Restorative Power of Heartmath
Elena was one of many clients with whom I introduced the restorative power of HeartMath. I saw how it changed her life and how she morphed into a strong, resilient and composed woman.
It was the tools of Heartmath that gave Elena room to calm herself when dealing with difficult emotions. The exercises helped to regulate her heart rhythm and gave her the mental space to reflect and assess situations without responding impulsively. The progress was gradual but sure, allowing her to tackle her anger, anxiety, frustration and self-doubt.
10 Minutes Twice a Day To Relieve Stress
Elena did ten minutes of heart focused breathing twice a day and did them during those minutes it triggered her during stressful events. This helped her to make better choices. One of the many gifts of the process was the carefree joy that was restored to her life and a tremendous increase in her self-esteem. Elena was an example of someone who had replaced her darker side with lightheartedness, resilience, and compassion. A trio that had affected her life and relationships positively.
“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Benjamin Franklin
Resilience And Calm is a Practice
Seeing this progress in her after years of dedication fills me with a wholeness that cannot be replaced. I believe that resilience and calm in the face of adverse events and difficult emotions is a practice for mental and physical health. We must adjust as we go with the changing conditions of life, which is often uncertain. By learning flexibility, openness to change, and practicing the tools that work for us, they can equip us for any challenge that comes our way.
This technique treats the emotional turbulence quickly and works to ease stress through the heart’s intelligence. The exercises interrupt negative patterns by training us to change our heart rhythm.Shifting us away from our stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, we can then lean toward our feel-good biochemistry of serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins. With practice we create a new healthy baseline pattern to stay calm and balanced in the face of daily stressors. Follow your heart’s intelligence, rather than listen to the constant misleading chatter of your mind. The cognitive part of your brain gets bombarded with information and confused with false assumptions, ideas, and judgments. By pressing the delete button on that chatter and asking what your heart says and feels, you receive an uncomplicated answer. The wisdom of your heart is a powerful assistant that allows you to feel peaceful despite life’s uncertainties.
2) Imagine your breath is flowing in and out through your heart.
3) Continue to breathe through the area of your heart. As you do so, recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside. This could be a feeling of appreciation and love toward a person or a pet, a place you enjoyed, or an activity that brought you joy. Allow yourself to feel this good feeling. If you can’t feel anything think about what you appreciate with a photo or video. Once you’ve shifted to a positive feeling try to maintain it by continuing to breathe in for the count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for the count of 4 and hold for the count of 4. With daily practice, instead of anxiety, you will have a new baseline pattern of relaxation and calm.
Kim co authored the #1 Bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Mental Health Matters, which provides a set of supportive tools and inspiring stories to help women conquer negative influences and harness the power of psychological wellness.
“There is a magnificent, beautiful wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labour of devotion and love! The colours are like no other, they swim and leap, and trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing? C. Joybell C
The love of self clarifies the artistic beauty in each one of us. It helps us appreciate our authenticity and cultivate a habit of love for ourselves and others. Acceptance gives us the courage to share and celebrate our own stories. This gives us the freedom to be comfortable in our own skin making us feel like we truly belong and thus capable of a positive contribution. Do not measure yourself to an ideal image. You have a great inner resource of creativity and intelligence. Have a self-loving view of your quest for self-discovery. You don’t have to be anyone else as you are a shining star, and perfect just the way you are.
You are beautiful and unique in your own way and your life experiences like your footprints are second to none. So stop comparing and looking for validation from those within your circles. This not only disorients your life’s direction but also hinders your creativity. Be your own person and live your life only by your set of values. Let go of self-critical negative thoughts by removing doubts, fears, and insecurities. These could be your mental blocks and fears sourced from earlier experiences. Allow yourself to be optimistic and enthusiastic about your plans, using your ideas to build momentum toward your goals.
Social media has made ours an era of validation. We question our originality, as the race for speed, beauty, smarts, accomplishments, and perfection heats up. How then do we search within ourselves and cultivate habits that are both ingenious and unique to our productivity? How do we stand our ground and resist the urge to compare and find that inner peace that is derived from being in a productive relationship with ourselves?
Once the concept of self is changed things consistent with the new concept of self are accomplished easily without strain and learning ability would change accordingly. I saw pictures of myself in grade 7. I appeared tall and strong with a beautiful smile, but I remember having this belief that I was ugly and gawky. The concept of imagined ugliness or body dysmorphia is not uncommon. The typical reaction for a person dealing with these thoughts is that they are ugly in their looks creates debilitating wounds, and to to heal, a person must first learn how to undertake a journey of self-discovery.
What I see especially in young people, is that they put too much stock in what others think about them. They don’t have trust in themselves which harms self-esteem. Remind yourself that you are the only person with your thoughts and mind. It is therefore important to learn how to trust and believe in yourself. Associate yourself with people who are positive and supportive and let go of critical and negative people. This approach harnesses your assertiveness, and this allows you to up your game and set the tone about how you want to be treated. With practice, you can learn the art of communication and this will help you set clear boundaries and this leads to mutual respect.
Perception by definition refers to an individual’s recognition and analysis of sensory information. Perception plays an important role in creating personal experiences and helps understands a person’s character. For the most part, we will all perceive and approach our problems differently. This makes perception key in our attempts to realize holistic healing. Once you change the perception of the person you see in the mirror, you’ll have the ability to create your own destiny, and transform a fear, worry, and anxiety into a confident, positive energy.
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first” Charles Bukowski”
It is rewarding to find someone whom you like, but it is even more essential to like yourself. Loving yourself fuels all your undertaking with such great vitality that if used well has the potential to create lasting experiences. We are quick to recognize the other person as better or decent but forget to view ourselves as equally good, loved and acceptable. Even as we delight in the discovery of others who we consider as worthy of respect and adoration you must not forget to be charitable to ourselves too. You cannot find yourself in the other person.
Learning to love yourself means that you are no longer responding to worry and fear and rejection with negativity. You are aware of your flaws and your strong personality makes you to be accepting and makes you show love even to those undeserving of love. Self-love means that you are never stressing about your vulnerability and that you can hit that unfortunate bottom and still share your feelings from a place of love and not fear or anxiety. We root our feelings of happiness in our self-image. If we start with accepting ourselves by cultivating self-esteem and confidence other areas of our lives will blossom and reduce our fear and anxiety by letting go of inaccurate self-assessments.
A myth about achieving happiness is that if we do this, get that or become this, it will make us complete and happy. The truth, however, is that we are already complete and self-sufficient just as we are in this present moment. By accepting vulnerability and imperfections we become genuine contenders to self-discovery. Self-esteem and self respect like planting seeds and watering them, requires cultivating each day. That critical inner voice is just your brain’s attempt to keep you safe but which ironically leaves you feeling worried and self-conscious. This is due to the negativity bias in the brain and its primitive ability to highlight the negative to keep us away from harm.
Four steps you can take to wrangle your inner critic:
1)Practice thought awareness that leads to a solution
Familiarize yourself with your thoughts and resist the temptation to pay attention to the unending narrative in your mind. You can get started with writing your most recurring thoughts and objectively dissect them and immediately reframe critical thoughts as they come up. Ask yourself whether these thoughts are exaggerated or biased as most of our thoughts are. If true, don’t admit defeat and start brainstorming ideas that can lead to a solution.
2) Take a break from the rumination
If the situation was questionable and embarrassing what good will come from repeatedly analyzing and replaying the same events in your head? Are you by chance thinking about the solution or just ruminating about the event needlessly? Stop trying to ‘not think about it’ as your negativity bias will keep you lurking around the very thing you’re looking to avoid. Instead, distract yourself with some activity. Go out for a walk or call that acquaintance you’ve been meaning to connect with for months.
3) Become your own advocate
What advice did you give your upset friend who felt mistreated from a sudden loss or disappointment? Project the same advice you’d give to someone desperate for help and compassion to your own problems and let your own wise advice work the magic.
4) Build on inner strengths
This is the integrity of character through the mental resistance to doubt or discouragement. The way to unleashing your inner strength is through nourishing your character. Make a list of the ten things about yourself that you are most proud of. It could be your physical skills, creative abilities, or any other attribute you can think of. Create a journal of self-appreciation and add to it each day, or as you think of a new attribute. Make a collage in the journal as a reminder of your self-worth and as an individual of merit who you are. Appreciate your history and story and meet it with compassion and understanding. Accept your circumstances and your flaws and shift into acceptance for what is happening right now. Think of how you will feel when you think enough of yourself to tackle the world on your own terms. Opt for courage in the face of adversity and don’t let fear influence your decisions. Be prepared to operate out of strength and use your authority to de-clutter your mind and create space for productive thoughts. Speak from your strength and you can handle any situation that comes your way!
I welcome your feedback, and please share with me your personal experiences and insights during this special week dedicated to Mental Health Awareness in Canada. From my heart, Kim
Difficult people will challenge you with their judgments, old behaviours and patterns along with projecting their opinions. If you’re not grounded in confidence, clear and strong within yourself, you may be triggered, prodded and poked with your emotions in every direction, until you find yourself stewing in an angry reactive emotion. This can be stressful, physically exhausting and wreak havoc with your nervous system.
Anger Can Drain Our Energy Quickly
Reactive angry emotions can drain our energy extremely quickly. Let’s look at ways that we can release this old familiar pattern that is reactive, and drawn into people’s drama. You can learn ways of thriving in every situation, joyfully without fear and create a different perspective. You have everything you need to experience life with your feet planted firmly on solid ground, without being tossed and pushed around by circumstance, people’s negativity and your own thoughts.
Reacting to a Negative Event Causes a Chaotic Heart Rhythm
If you go over and over in your mind about a negative incident that happened after being harmed emotionally, you are adding more pain to the already traumatizing event. Ruminating of how things could have gone differently in an interaction, is illogical, as no amount of thinking about it changes the facts it is a past event. The sooner you let go of it, the better it is for your health. Reacting to a negative event causes a chaotic heart rhythm, as well as a flood of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to stress-related disorders such as heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia and weight gain. Some people are bad for our health.
Learn The Fine Art Of Bold Communication Skills
Associate with people who are positive and supportive and if it is possible, let go, modify contact, or assert yourself with critical and negative people. Think of this as a step you take for your physical and mental well-being. It is important to identify who these people are and take action. Setting clear boundaries can improve your relationship with them. By learning the skill of assertiveness, you are saying to yourself and others that you value yourself, and it will set the tone for mutual respect. With practice, you can learn the fine art of bold communication skills, and this will help you set clear boundaries.
Quick Emergency Exercise After An Argument
1) Imagine that there is a drain at the bottom of your feet.
2) Exhale out any negativity and see it disappear outside of yourself as it goes out of the drain at the bottom of your feet.
3) Inhale again breathing in fresh clean air and white light.
4) Keep exhaling negative material out of the drain and inhaling the clean white light until you feel clean, clear, and lighter.
5) Stay there for one minute and notice the peaceful and clear feeling you have.
Through repetition, you become skilled with developing a filter that allows things in that make you feel good, and filtering out what is harming you, or could cause you harm. By taking on another’s negativity you’re harming yourself. Pay attention to how good it feels to have a peaceful feeling that is strong and wise. Each interaction in your life is teaching you valuable life lessons. Protect your well- being like gold.
I invite you to share with me your wisdom, experiences and insights.
The morning I met Annie started out as usual. A quiet and mild misty June morning on the ranch, I made coffee and set out two horsey mugs with cream and sugar, with two western placemats on the log table on the deck of our heritage log home on Abel Lake. My greens shake in hand, and our dog Karma at my side, I sought to start the day early with Annie who arrived to the ranch late last evening from Vancouver for counselling. To the chorus of the morning birds, I wandered the grounds searching for her. She was not at the cabins. Her bed was made, almost as if no one had slept in it. The worry shook whatever slumber I had left in my eyes. Retracing my steps, and resorting to check the last place I expected her to be, I left the cabins and picked my way in the misty cool of dawn across the property to the great heritage barn doors.
Usually the horses were quiet in the mornings, but I knew something was different that morning, as a few neighs alerted me when I approached. I paused in the doorway and my eyes searched the dim-lit barn. Almost instantly, my eyes settled on the small figure of a woman sleeping beside our mare SS Prime Tyme.
Her beat-up hat concealed half her face as I neared her, also noting her pointy toed cowboy boots. Her small arms stroked Tyme’s neck, and the sight pinned me in place. There was a softness in the connection between the two, one I had never seen of Tyme; a feisty Pinto Arab Saddlebred that resisted almost everyone that dared to tame her, and yet, there she was, lying in the shavings next to a small stranger, quiet as a mouse, still as a statue and in love.
I startled her. Big frightened eyes tossed my way as she stepped back. Tyme snorted and stood up, her long white mane covered in shavings.
Annie and I had only met briefly the night before, when Annie had come down to the ranch to see me. Her tired eyes had avoided contact and her arms almost never left her side. The rims around her eyes suggested a lack of sleep, and the lip biting told much about the anxiety turbulent within.
I offered her coffee, promising her we would come back to see Tyme. She fidgeted all the way back to the ranch house, keeping distance as I tried small talk, sifting for a common opening through which we could communicate. Her eyes never left the ground along the way and her replies never surpassed two syllables.
Once she had settled onto a chair at the table, with a simmering cup of coffee before her, I could tell her thoughts were afloat. Her eyes searched the room and her shoulders quivered now and then.
“You know, I’ve never seen Tyme so calm with anyone like that.” I smiled. She reciprocated weakly, keeping her eyes on her cup. Slowly she raised it to her lips and inhaled. Then she drank deeply. The liquid must have struck a chord for she beamed up at me with the brightest smile I had seen that day. Beside her, on the floor, Karma wagged her tail enthusiastically, watching her with knowing eyes. Annie reached out as if to touch her but then receded.
“No, it is quite alright.” I urged. She touched her lightly, and Karma’s warmth and soft eyes radiated onto her and she smiled again. Our conversation truly began after she had downed her cup of coffee. Gently, I inquired, needing her to be free with me if I was to help her. She only divulged a bit of information, before suddenly, she clammed up and beads of sweat began to form on her brow.
It was then I decided we both needed to drink in the beauty in front of us. We walked down a path to the shore of the lake. Watching the peaceful water returned the calm expression to Annie’s face. This bit of her I had only seen in small flashes back at the kitchen.
“Annie, suites you perfectly,” I smiled, taking in her soft facial features and those trusting eyes. Her face lit up briefly, a faint smile graced her lips, one that told tales of a beautiful young woman with a dark present and an uncertain future. It worried me she had sat out in the barn alone and in the cold, clinging to Tyme.
“What brought you out so early?”
“I was feeling breathless back at the cabin.” She grimaced and her eyes glistened. Her pain was vivid in her eyes, circled by tender swollen skin. “Something hangs heavy over me, smothering me. I can’t break free. I was going to come to see you at the house crying but, the lake…” She paused, casting a wistful gaze over the spread of glass before us. “And the sounds.” We both listened, the loons had not yet begun their orchestra. Then the crickets drummed and, in the distance, the coyotes yipped.
“There’s a peace here. It’s like coming home. Which is strange as I have never been here”
But she was about to understand why, because I had already decided when I first saw her I would and must help her. I offered another cup of coffee and her favourite breakfast of fruit and avocado whole grain toast. She drank her coffee intensely as I sat beside her and we talked. Annie’s attention shifted uneasily throughout our discussion, there was an underlying edginess that kept her at bay, especially when she talked about her traumatic experiences; memories she couldn’t shut out.
I realized this was not of an external force but of her own doing. Most of the people that came here were tied down by painful memories of the past that they could not let go of, and Annie was no different. Each reminisce made her shudder and averted her attention. It became too difficult to continue talking about them. That day as I taught her how to groom, saddle up and ride, I started introducing to her lessons in the Science of the Heart.
A Few Years Later:
The birds came alive in the trees as the sun rose on the horizon over the lake, radiating a newness across the ranch. Mid spring cooed soft whisperings over the rolling pastures with the shimmering long grass waving. This promised the calm of new beginnings, the joy I would share in the company of one of my strongest clients, a woman named Annie. Her waif like smile floats to mind as I think of the haloed intensity in her eyes, and her bravery willing to take life by its horns. Her hearty laughter carried across the ranch as she gave me a beaming smile, the morning light shining on her face untouched from makeup, her light from within. She had just arrived from our heritage log cabin beaming with triumph. But the joy in her eyes did not conceal the emotions of the night before, and I quickly noticed puffy, tender skin surrounding her eyes. Had she had been crying? The pause in my chest only held a moment, as I quickly learnt her tears were that of joy. “I feel so safe here, it really is like coming home”, she said, her cowboy hat weathered from her past adventures, her long dark hair curling around the edges. Stretched in front of her were the same cowboy boots, a dusty red and denim blue with pointed toes scuffed with pride.
Annie had been struggling over the past few years with appreciating her original character and beauty. She had been frail, and withdrawn when I first met her, with hollow eyes that fled from any eye contact and small shoulders that carried a weight much too heavy. My heart felt her pain. But with it, out-poured hope, hope I could do only my best to help her, and I gave her the intelligent heart tool. The progress she made was transformational, and gradually, I could see her vibrant self piecing back together.
We spent our time marvelling at the ethereal blue of a beautiful morning sky, creating animals from puffy clouds, while listening to the calling of the coyotes in the hills. As she pulled on her chaps and sipped her coffee, our dog Karma licked her face and knocked her avocado toast off the log table. Instead of reacting, she tossed her head back and her laughter rung musically. For her to experience her joy first hand, one that was non-existent years ago, is something that I cherish.
“Karma you are a bulldozer!” she exclaimed! We both laughed, as Karma smiled and wagged her tail.
Later, we wandered out at the shore of the lake where a still sheet of dark glass reaches across to the other side of a tree line. The lake is surroundedby tall silhouette spires, the forms of sleeping trees. The stillness only lasts a moment as yodelling drifts across the calm surface. Mating calls from the loons, their hooked necks stay afloat the water as they communicate. We remain wrapped in this dreamy musing state, until she says in a flat and almost mournful voice,
“I wish we could roam the hills and the pastures beyond it. I could get lost and never come back.” Her eyes glisten with both a golden but sad joy. I feel it too, the yearning to mount one of our horses and run free. The ranch sits secluded by surrounding hills and trees, by our lake in the Cariboo, somewhere in the backcountry, with miles of land to explore just minutes away. The idea tingled at my fingertips. I was more than delighted at the thought of this.
I had packed brown bag lunches of peanut butter and honey wholegrain sandwiches, some nuts and cans of V8.
“Let’s take a coffee down to the barn and say good morning to the horses!”
She brightened a little more as I said this and, in that moment, I recalled her dedication to the animals. She had been falling apart when she first met SS Prime Tyme, our spicy Tri coloured Pinto Arab Saddle-bred, but we call her Tyme for short. Tyme is one of the few horses with spirited wildness on the ranch; fierce and poised in stature. I never could have imagined that these two would have been a match, but they were from the first day a few years ago. Somehow their hearts met halfway and from that day, Annie found herself engrossed with giving Tyme her all, spending day after day in devotion to caring for her, giving her baths and brushing her long white mane and tail.
In many ways, the process mirrored her efforts to regain herself; each gentle stroke across Tyme’s back, echoed subconsciously within her, consoling and invigorating the frail child within her that was left from her psychological trauma.
She raced me to the barn, stopping momentarily as a burst of flapping wings sounded over our heads, heralding a flock of barn swallows taking flight, with the soft chirping of their younglings calling after them. Their nests sat a few feet above our heads in the old rafters of the heritage barn’s roof. You could almost see the small pink beaks of their chicks, snapping from above the barn door, with their sleepy heads peeping over the brim of their nests.
A familiar neigh from inside reeled our attention, and it was Annie’s turn to take flight. Annie’s small arms wound tight around Tyme’s neck, not nearly long enough to make it halfway.
Tyme whinnied joyously, leaning into the hug. Annie only let go to stroke her neck. I gave the two friends their moment.
“What about if we just ride out and never come back?” She beamed back at me, eyes sparkling.
“If you had a choice where would you ride to?” I asked amused.
“I guess I just want to leave everything behind, to leave the tedium. But I like the fact of coming home and having a place to go to. And as you’ve said before, happiness is found within, no matter where you are. It’s that calm in the midst of chaos and confusion; a completeness that never fades. It’s not your circumstances that call the shots and tell you what your state of mind should be. Peace of mind is a choice and a commitment.”
Her wisdom and insight astonished me. For a moment, profound joy fills my heart, and my eyes water.
“You see Kim, I have been listening to you all these years.” She added with her genuine smile, a smile that reached with instant magnetic connection.
Annie, a petite woman with three children, had been shaken with grief when I first met her. Her abusive husband had just died. The trials of domestic abuse had broken something in her, somehow her personality shifted, leaving in place a frail child, one that wished to shut the world out. More than often, she would disappear, leaving friends and family worried. She wore her emotions on her sleeve, erupting into tears, rage and frustration at the slightest whim. Her unstable state was her undoing, one that kept her from help.
It was the tools of Heartmath that gave Annie room to calm herself when dealing with difficult emotions. The exercises helped to regulate her heart rhythm, giving her the mental space to reflect and assess situations without responding impulsively. The progress was gradual but sure, allowing her to tackle her anger, anxiety, frustration and self-doubt.
How? Annie learnt that ten minutes of heart focus breathing twice a day and did them during those minutes it triggered her during stressful events which helped her to make better choices. One of the many gifts of the process, was the carefree joy that restored to her life and a tremendous increase in her self-esteem. Annie was an example of someone who had replaced her darker side with a lightheartedness, resilience, and compassion. A trio that had affected her life and relationships positively.
Seeing this progress in Annie after years of dedication fills me with a wholeness that cannot be replaced. I believe that resilience and calmness in the face of adverse events and difficult emotions is something that needs to be practiced, not just for emotional health but mental and physical health. We must adjust as we go with the changing conditions of life, which is often uncertain and unpredictable. By learning flexibility and openness to change, and practicing the tools that work for us, we are equipped for any challenge that comes our way.
The techniques of Heartmath are unique from traditional therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, because rather than ask you to reframe your thoughts cognitively, it treats the emotional turbulence directly and works quickly to ease stress through the heart’s intelligence.
Heartmath exercises interrupt this negative pattern by training us to change our heart rhythms. This shifts us away from our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline towards our feel-good neurochemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins. With practice we can create a new healthy baseline pattern that allows you the ability to stay calm and balanced in the face of daily stressors.
It is more effective to follow your heart’s intelligence, rather than listen to the constant misleading chatter of your mind. The cognitive part of your brain gets bombarded with information and confused with false assumptions, ideas, and judgments. By pressing the delete button on that chatter and asking what your heart says and feels, you receive an uncomplicated answer. The wisdom of your heart allows you to feel peaceful despite life’s uncertainties. Heartmath is a powerful assistant for any of our life challenges.
“The power of the heart is capable of overcoming without effort every negativity. To start using the power of the heart is the most significant choice you will make in life” Steven Redhead ; author of “Unleash the Power of Your Heart and Mind.”