Graduate school provided me plenty of opportunity to use my mind by studying theory, learning techniques, or researching new methodologies. It involved preparing projects, papers and presentations for experts in the field along with my peers. But I was fascinated when one particular class body exercise packed as much of a learning punch in just a few short minutes as any research paper that had taken me hours, days or often weeks to complete.
That day, our instructor directed us to get out of our chairs and pair up with another classmate. We were asked to stand in front of one another with our feet shoulder width apart. One person was to put their hand on the shoulder of the other and try to gently push their partner until they were unbalanced. After we did this, each pair reflected on how much effort it took to push the person to the point of needing to take a step to restore grounding. Then, the instructor asked us to do this again, only before we repeated the exercise, we were to close our eyes and imagine something we were grateful for. We took just a few seconds to really get the picture in our mind, settling on some details and contours of the image. Then, our partner tried to push us again. What felt miraculous at the time, and science would later illuminate, is that it took quite a bit more time and effort to generate the imbalance following the moment of gratitude.
Later, we learned that the HeartMath Institute has studied the effects of emotions on the body and discovered that gratitude is the most grounding of emotions and anger is the most dysregulating.
“When you sincerely feel and express your appreciation/gratitude for family, friends, people you encounter, or the world around you, an interesting and profound change occurs in your heart rhythms. They become more coherent. Numerous studies by HeartMath scientists and others have demonstrated this in a wide range of groups. In fact, by experiencing what HeartMath calls qualities of the heart, such as appreciation, compassion, deep love, kindness and care, you can reset your overall mental, emotional and physiological coherence – all of the body’s systems and lift your vibration.”
So, when we count our blessings, we are actually more stable and regulated. And when we discharge our anger in outbursts, we are most vulnerable to being thrown off our center.
What might this mean during this upcoming season that is often wrought with the challenges of frantic schedules, high expectations, cultural demands, and extended times with various family members? Could there be a hidden opportunity in every challenge to find a moment of gratitude for even simple things we often take for granted? It seems like staying balanced and grounded during this season might depend on us doing so.
And perhaps, it feels more and more difficult to think of what there is to be grateful for, or you spend far more time being angry and feel out of balance. If you want to find your way back to center, contact us to connect with a well-trained counselor who can join you in your pursuit of grounding and balance.
Author: Krista Law