5 December 2011

Living with Heart - my latest workshop experience

Living with Heart - a Creating Synergies Workshop

I attended the warm and wonderful Gill Wyatt's "Living with Heart - A Practical Spiritual Path" workshop in Exeter on Saturday.  As previously mentioned, I was very excited about going. The emphasis for me was for personal development rather than improving my counselling skills, but actually, I don't think that the two are separate endeavours.

The context of the workshop was that NEW SCIENCE MEETS THE 'WISDOM OF THE HEART' - a look at latest findings in neurocardiology and how they influence our understanding of emotions, our way of being and of the mind/body divide which we in the West seem to have created.

The best parts for me, were the "heart meditations". For the first one we were invited to close our eyes and focus on our breathing, then to connect with our hearts by imagining breathing through them. With this focus we were to think of something that gives us joy and lean in to the experience of it. I had done this exercise before, on a previous "Heart Intelligence" workshop. What happens, for me, and for some others, is that the joy is intensified to the point where it is almost unbearable, and what comes along with that is the pain associated with the joy. My interpretation of this is that the heart equals truth and is the home of the highest joy and the deepest grief. I believe that for most of us, feelings of bliss, joy and love are physically felt in the heart as well as those of grief, pain and loss. Some found difficulty in letting go of "head thoughts" and going "into the heart". It seemed to be an enlightening experience for all, regardless of the personal experience.

There was another exercise where first of all we were to think of a problem we were encountering in life. Next we were encouraged to get back in touch with the joy we'd felt on the previous exercise - referred to by Gill as our "inner smile". From that place, and whilst "breathing  through our hearts" we were then to think of our problem or dilemma from that place and ask our hearts what we need. Anytime we felt stuck we were to recall the inner smile. My personal experience of this was that I got some very insightful advice, "from my heart" and will be taking action accordingly.

Something else I hugely valued from the day was the scientific input. We learned some genuinely fascinating facts about neurocardiology which correlate with ancient wisdom. We were taught about the relevance of Heart Rate Variability to our emotions with negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, showing an erratic reading and a positive feeling, such as appreciation, showing as a sine wave. This latter pattern is referred to as being coherent and it is when our HRV is in the highly ordered sinewave pattern that we feels positive emotions. This phenomenon - which is attributed to our systems being in harmony,  is referred to as Heart Mind Body Coherence (or psychophysiological coherence).

There was a lot more information about the impact of a highly ordered 'coherent" HRV(such as greater synchronisation between the two branches of the autonomic system) and erratic HRV (there is a shift away from the thinking parts of the brains with our reactionary brain taking more control). But I will not go into the science in depth here.

Another interesting fact is that the heart's electromagnetic field extends out approximately 12 foot around us. Neurocardiology is in it's infancy and at the workshop many of us were excited about what was yet to be discovered through future research. The thing is, ancient Eastern wisdom already knows the importance of the heart and the importance of not prioritising mind-thought.

There was all sorts of groovy data which raised many questions about the massive impact these discoveries could make to how we are in the world.

Discussion was had about what it means to "live with heart" and we shared ideas, experiences, fears and hopes. I really enjoyed hearing what the other attendees had to share and I appreciate Gill's style of gently leading in a strong way. She is generous with her approach and likes the process to be 2-way.

I went home very stimulated and with plenty of self-development to be carrying on with...

Gill Wyatt can be contacted via email: gillwyatt@creatingsynergies.com

Link to the website for the Institute of HeartMath

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