Intuition was once considered a mysterious gift bestowed on only a few. More recently, scientists are recognizing it as a skill that anyone can develop.
Most of us have had some experience with what we call a hunch, a heart feeling, gut feeling or just a sense of “inner knowing” in making decisions in business, or having a strong sense about something with our children or someone we care about, or even in everyday activities like an inner prompting to drive defensively.
At the center of this intuitive ability is the human heart. Once thought to be no more than a pump, the heart is now being recognized as a sophisticated intelligence whose power is only beginning to be scientifically understood.
Surprising new research is showing that the human heart is involved in accessing what is called non-local intuition. This research reveals that the heart receives intuitive information before the brain by a second or slightly more, according to published research conducted by the HeartMath Institute.
This unconscious perception can be seen in subtle changes in our emotions and body. For example, changes in our heart’s rhythm can occur with an intuitive feeling.
While the degree of access to the heart’s intuition varies from person to person, we all have access to it – and this intelligence can be cultivated.
Practical intuition is something we can use daily for moment-to-moment choices and decisions in life; in helping increase our sensitivity and care towards others – and in deepening our connections with ourselves and those we care about.
Researchers have found a significant relationship between increased heart rhythm coherence and becoming more sensitive to our intuitive signals. As we slow down our minds and attune to our deeper heart feelings, our natural intuitive connection begins to flow.
Listening to our intuitive signals unfolds more understanding of ourselves, others, and issues in life. This practical intuition is something we can access daily for making more effective choices and decisions.
When visiting my 85 year old father last week, I took it upon myself to organize his apartment. The next day everything was back in its original spot. There’s comfort in the familiar and comfort was certainly more important to him than a new, more efficient place for his mail.
We all know other people who are stuck doing the same things the same way. Yet we fail to see our own narrow views or the “I know what I know” attitudes we hang on to, never considering the possibility that we may be wrong and there is be a better way.
The world around us is rapidly changing. Flexibility and adaptability are critical success factors. Although openness to new ideas and a sincere desire for positive change are more important than ever, we often stay with the familiar assuming it will continue to produce the desired results.
Albert Einstein said it best: “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
We miss opportunities because the discomfort we feel around change–fear, anxiety and worry–can literally limit the brain’s ability to see other options. This means if we want to think differently, we have to first feel differently.
Next time you hear yourself saying, “I know what I know”, make sure you aren’t blind to other options. Start by getting Neutral: focus on the area around your heart; breathe in and out through the heart. Then engage the power of the heart by feeling a positive emotion. The physiological change brought about by this emotional shift will enhance brain function and allow you to view the issue in a whole.
Your alarm doesn’t go off, you over sleep and you PANIC. You’re running late, can’t find your car keys and you’re FRUSTRATED. You get stuck in traffic, miss your exit and you’re ANGRY. You reach to change the radio station, spill your latte and you’re ANNOYED. You have 3 urgent messages from a client, an ‘I need to talk to you’ message from your boss and you’re ANXIOUS. You’re late for the staff meeting, the only empty chair is next to the guy you can’t stand and you’re IRRITATED. Hey, cheer up! It’s only 9:15!
Sound familiar? And even though a lot of us ignore these ‘little stresses’ and our emotional reactions to them (Hey, this is life!), our bodies don’t: adrenaline soars, extra cortisol is pumped into your body, the heart races, muscles tense up. Over time, our bodies adapt and eventually forget how to rest. It’s the reason why we don’t sleep as well as we used to, we’re on edge more often than not and when we finally get that week-long vacation on Maui, we need three days just to feel relaxed!
There will always be traffic, urgent messages and staff meetings. But we can change how we respond to these every day hassles and in the process, reduce wear and tear on our bodies.
First, don’t ignore how you feel throughout the day. When you feel angry, irritated, anxious, etc. bring your system back to balance, quickly, on demand, with the free Quick Coherence® technique. Heart focus. Heart breathing. Heart feeling.
Second, take 5-15 minutes a few times every week to practice sustaining the heart feeling. Over time you can retrain your system how to rest. Just like stress accumulates in our bodies, so does emotional resilience. You’ll find the little stuff doesn’t bother you as much and you’ll have more energy to handle the big things when they come along.
We talk, and sometimes even brag, about the amount of stress we’re experiencing these days. Yet, I still hear the same excuses for not doing something about it.
I just don’t have the time! We’re all busy and as long as we believe stress reduction requires time, we continue to reserve it for Saturday morning in the garden or 9:00 pm in the bathtub or late August in Maui! The truth is stress doesn’t wait until you have time to ‘manage’ it. You need something that works 24/7, QUICK! It takes less than a minute to stop the stressful feeling with HeartMath’s basic Quick Coherence® technique: Heart focus; heart breathing; heart feeling. Five times a day takes less than five minutes!
Nothing’s going to change anyway. Don’t expect life to suddenly transform around you every time you shift into coherence. Do it for your own sake. Don’t ignore the impact you can have on others when you are more balanced or calm.
It’s not working. Be patient. Like learning any new skill, this takes practice. And simply thinking about it won’t have the same benefit. You need to focus on and engage the heart; shift how you feel. Anytime you learn something new, the least line of resistance has the tendency to win out. The time it takes to find an excuse can be better spent to:
Recharge your batteries. Make a shift before you feel stressed. Pause for 15-30 seconds and find something in your life to appreciate. Each time you do this, you boost your whole system.
ave fun with your practice. If you approach your practice too seriously, it will feel like a chore and create even more stress. Find ways to build coherence into your daily routines.
Finally, recognize your stressful feelings one more time today than you did yesterday and then do something about it. Just one extra shift to coherence a day can save wear and tear on your body.
This July 4th, liberate yourself from your stress, once and for all.
All the latest tools and gadgets won’t help you build a house unless you know when to use the power drill or the screw driver.
The HeartMath® system includes a variety of tools and techniques designed to use any time to create the mental, emotional and physical state we call coherence. We know that coherence is the foundation of good performance, optimal health and a better quality of life. We also know coherence is a great stress buster. However, if we only wait until we’re stressed to reach into the tool box, we can miss an opportunity to improve just about everything we do during the work day.
Troubleshoot throughout your day. Get coherent and reap the benefits of building a solid foundation.
||And you want to…
|Have to make an important decision
||Think more clearly; reduce confusion; take a different approach; see the big picture
|Are in a meeting
||Improve communication; stay on track; be more creative; stop the blame, judgments and contentiousness that can divide teams
|Are faced with change
||Shift your perspective; be more flexible and less resistant; reduce feelings of anxiety
|Are in a challenging situation
||Listen better; stop jumping to conclusions; be less reactive or defensive
||Reduce fatigue; get an energy boost; improve focus and mental clarity
|Have too much to do and not enough time
||Improve your ability to separate the important from the urgent; improve your focus; save time: align your actions with what’s most important
|Are in information overload
||Calm your mind; increase mental clarity and focus; have a clearer view of your priorities; reduce anxiety
||Energize your system; expand your perspective; be more creative
Will acts of kindness and generosity enhance our health, increase our longevity and make us happier? Can genuine altruism be a remedy for stress? When we act on behalf of other people, research shows we feel better and more secure and experience less stress.
Does altruism have a physiological basis? Using MRI scans, scientists have identified specific regions of the brain that are very active during deeply and compassionate emotions. Stephen Post, Ph.D., head of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, told WebMD: “This is the care-and-connection part of the brain. States of joy and delight come from giving to others. It doesn’t come from any dry action – where the act is out of duty in the narrowest sense.” What Post is describing is heartfelt giving. Neurochemicals also enter into this picture of altruism. A recent study has identified high levels of the hormone oxytocin in people who are very charitable toward others. But what about the heart?
The Institute of HeartMath, a nonprofit research and education organization in California, has studied the physiology of and relationship between the heart, stress, and emotions for 17 years. Dr. J. Andrew Armour, a leading neurocardiologist on the Institute of HeartMath’s Scientific Advisory Board, has found the heart contains cells that synthesize and release hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine, among others. More recently it was discovered that the heart also secretes oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “love” or “bonding” hormone. Remarkably, concentrations of oxytocin produced in the heart are as high as those found in the brain. When you are altruistic – lending a helping hand – your oxytocin level goes up, which helps relieve your stress. Altruistic behavior also may trigger the brain’s reward circuitry – the feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins. However, the hormonal benefits of the good deed depend on the genuine intent of the act of altruism.
Research shows that altruistic people are healthier and live longer. In one study that followed over 400 women for 30 years, researchers found that 52% of those who did not engage in volunteer work experienced a major illness – compared with only 36% of those who did volunteer. In a British poll of volunteers, half of those surveyed said their health had improved over the course of volunteering. One in five even said that volunteering had helped them lose weight. Another large research study found a 44% reduction in early death among those who volunteered – a greater effect than exercising four times a week. And a recent investigation conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that older people who are helpful to others reduce their risk of dying by nearly 60% compared to peers who provide neither practical help nor emotional support to relatives, neighbors or friends.
You can learn to cultivate altruism using the HeartMath
® System. HeartMath experts say that giving to others should be balanced with self-care so you don’t burn yourself out. Giving is most effective when it comes from a genuine sense of heartfelt care rather than a feeling of duty or “I should.” The heart-focused techniques of the HeartMath System help people to align themselves more fully with their core values and to actualize more care and compassion in their daily lives. Practice of these techniques has also been linked to beneficial changes in hormones that profoundly affect our health, happiness and longevity. Integrating HeartMath practices into your life helps you reduce stress while increasing your generosity from the heart.
Benefits of Altruism:
- Promotes emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health.
- Boosts your self-esteem and confidence.
- Increases your longevity.
- Givers are more open to receiving gifts and experiencing appreciation.
- Provides a way to express your feelings about someone or an issue.
- Builds connections and relationships with others.
- People gain knowledge about the cause and issue they give to.
- Giving to a community or globally is caring that uplifts consciousness.
For more scientific information go to: www.heartmath.org.