The Gift of Peace
Rooted Connections Retreats offers experiences in adventure, insight, connection, and ceremony….but this holiday season, we also want to offer the gift of peace.
Holidays are wonderful, and it is no surprise that they can also be stressful. Shortened days can feel compressed and gray skies can feel oppressive (if you are in the PNW like I am). Regardless of our external environment, we can tune into a sense of ease with little time or effort.
Trained in HeartMath, we've learned how to direct our nervous system from the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response, and therefore change our biochemistry. The results of this are enormous.
Rather than operating on cortisol and adrenaline (which, if unchecked, lead to chronic illness), we can flood our system with serotonin (our “contentment and well-being” hormone) along with other reparative chemicals. This elevates our mood, and initiates a feedback loop of feeling better, thinking more positively, and so on.
The shift in biochemistry allows the other systems of our body, which are muted by an overactive stress response, to turn on; these include our digestive, immune, and reproductive systems. It also moves lymph, which provides cellular detoxification.
It also broadens our perspective; rather than operating from tunnel vision (which occurs in fight/flight), we are able to more creatively problem-solve. It engages our empathy, and allows us greater social and emotional intelligence.
Perhaps most interestingly, this process changes our brain waves, which influence our internal and external environment. When stressed, we operate in high beta, which is a frenzied and chaotic brain wave. Within a couple of minutes, we can move our brain waves into low beta (ideal for effective goal acquisition) or even alpha (which is the reflective, “flow” state).
We are energy transmitters; our electromagnetic field is detectable for about 3’ and emanates from our heart. We strongly influence those around us; if we are in high beta, we transmit a frenzied energy field which makes those around us either edgy or avoidant. When we move into a coherent heart rate and brain wave pattern, we create a “vibe” which others experience and eventually emulate (due to mirror neurons). This isn’t resigned only to humans; it is truly incredible what occurs when we get "in sync" with our natural environment while in an alpha brain wave state.
So…how do we access this superpower? Breathe. Positively. Through our heart.
With eyes open or closed, we extend our breath to about a 4-5 second inhale, and then a 4-5 second exhale. There is no forcing or holding… just deep, rhythmic breathing (which engages our diaphragm). We envision this coming in and out of our heart while also adding an elated emotion (which we gain through evoking a positive memory, a sense of gratitude, intentional visualization, etc). Within a couple of minutes of this heart-focused breathing (HFB), we bring our system into coherence, and peace descends and expands.
The research is both startling and hopeful. HeartMath statistics suggest that most Americans spend nearly 70% of the time in fight/flight/freeze, and that 70 - 80% of visits to a primary care physician is for a functional disorder (something that has real physical symptoms but no known medical cause - other than stress).
The good news is that the body is able to flush stress-related biochemicals from the blood stream in approximately 90 seconds - IF we stay present with the experience (vs try to avoid it, which only fuels the issue and delays the healing).
The other piece of hopeful science is that we can rewire our brain towards peace as our default setting. All it takes is 10 minutes a day for 8 weeks; if we create a practice of mindfulness (HFB is one excellent method), we change our neurology, biochemistry, and relationship with ourselves and our world.
So with grateful hearts, we at RCR extend our peace this holiday season; we hope to see you on retreat in 2022!