Shaking hands with ourselves can calm our emotions and reduce stress, but how do we do that?
Last week I talked about Themis, the ancient goddess of reconciliation. When she was a member of the Greek pantheon, there were two words for soul.
Psyche, the soul of the breath, has come down to us in the concept of spirit. Thymos is the second soul, of the body, the blood, the emotions.
In the west, we have lost the concept of the body having soul. When we think of intelligence, we focus on the upper realms of mind. But for the Greeks, wisdom also emanated from the emotions or instincts. It is called the “blood-soul,” the mind of the body and is associated with the heart. We experience how our body speaks to us differently than the voice of transcendence from above.
The idea of two souls was known in Egypt, the individual ba and the ka or universal soul. The Chinese have the concept of yin and yang. Western antiquity had the Eros and Logos. These traditions honored the balance of complementary energies, male and female, electric and magnetic.
In the west, though, body and spirit became antagonists. (The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.) As reason dominated emotion, we lost the intelligence of the body. We disregarded messages from our bodies as “unscientific,” “illogical,” and the purview of fringe thinkers. Many suffer a mind/body split which contributes to the depression, anxiety, and stress illnesses so prevalent today.
Current physiological research is bridging the gap. Neurocardiology reveals that the heart is a vital organ of sensation. It codes and processes information within the autonomic nervous system. And it’s not alone.
There are many “little brains” in the body, clusters of neurons that regulate the functioning of the liver, stomach, kidneys, and intestines. Many correspond to the ancient eastern knowledge of the chakras, the energy centers of the light body.
When we express emotions, the heart has clear, rhythmic patterns. The experience of anger, frustration, and anxiety produces heart rhythms that are erratic and disordered. With emotions like appreciation, joy, love, compassion, the heart expresses an orderly or coherent pattern.
We experience subjective coherence when we are in positive emotional states. We feel “together,” “in the flow,” “integrated.” This could be the working of Themis energy.
From this research, I learned that if we can appreciate the “negative” emotions and listen to their messages, the act of appreciation helps heal the mind/body split and allows the heart to serve its natural function of reconciliation.
In my life, I noticed that even though I accept the information my body offers, I often feel annoyed. Here we go again, is the thought that streaks through my mind.
With appreciation, I can release my judgment of emotions that are inconvenient or unpleasant and bring myself into a state of greater coherence, which feels a lot better.
So, the next time, you’re upset, angry, or frightened:
- Sit down in a quiet place
- Calm your mind
- Focus on your physical heart
- Gently breathe in and out as if the air is moving through your chest
- Imagine something you appreciate having—a person, an object, a state of being
- For a few minutes, breathe through your heart, staying focused on what you appreciate
This simple exercise will calm you, help you come out of judgment, and bring your disparate parts into resonance. From that place, you can decide what action, if any, is appropriate.
It’s simple. Shake hands with yourself in your heart.
Accessing our heart’s natural intelligence can create an energetic field of unconditional love and harmonious interactions – helping humanity to realize we are one Earth, one yard, one people.
Doc Childre, HeartMath Founder