HEART CHAKRA: In the heart chakra we focus on relationships. Relationship with self, other, the whole green world, and relationship with the vastness of the cosmos and all the beings of spirit who love us. All of these relationships provide us with an opportunity to open the heart and genuinely CONNECT with other. It sounds so easy! I myself have definitely been CONNECTION CHALLENGED! Most of us have found that it takes some work to get beyond our hurts and pain, beyond our defense strategies and lovingly connect with other.
From now until Valentine’s Day I have committed to the practice of focusing on my heart and opening my heart more. I invite you to join me in this practice. This morning my beloved orange tabby cat jumped up in my arms and gave me the best lovie. He rubs his cheek on my cheek and purrs up a storm. My job is to stay very present with that and open my heart to deeply receive it. We will explore RECEIVING LOVE and other issues in the HEART CHAKRA workshop Feb 11. https://www.facebook.com/events/1314012315338724/
One of the fundamental needs we have as a young child, and continuing all the way through adulthood, is attunement. Attunement happens when the caregiver “gets” the child. Imagine a mother is holding her toddler, and the toddler wiggles to get down. When the mother let’s the child down she is in tune with the energy and needs of the child. Frequent mis-attunement can lead to a damaged sense of self, which can create negative beliefs around feeling unworthy and unvalued and unsafe.
Many years ago I worked with a client who told me the story of her first period. Her mother was notoriously unavailable, being emotionally shut down, working full time, and going to collage. The client asked several times for her mom’s attention. When the mother finally listened to the report of the period starting, she replied by saying: “Oh, I hope you are taking care of it.” The client did not know how to “take care of it!” Since the mother was unable to attune to both the client’s emotional and physical needs, she turned to her older sister for support.
In the session the client talked about the wave of shame and embarrassment she felt because of her mother’s lack of attunement. The client described how she retreated deep into her heart chakra and created an energetic shield over her heart. We began to work on her heart. Inside we found a young one hiding deep within. The little one asked: “How did you find me?” She was reluctant to be seen or contacted, so we acknowledged her fear and desire to hide. Then the little one reached out her hand for connection, then jumped in the lap of the client for a hug.
The client’s continuing work was to stay connected with the little one and attune to her needs.
In my psychotherapy practice, I work with a lot of people in the 20 something age group. These beautiful young people are working on becoming empowered in the world, and are often aware of their hurt inner child as well. Fairly often there is some repressed anger in their system. As they begin to differentiate from the family of origin, they become more aware of the needs that were not met in their childhood. Let us imagine a client named “Beth”. Beth’s mom was emotionally unavailable and Beth was very angry about it. Numerous times she would complain to her mom about how she just didn’t “get” her. These complaints would often turn into shouting matches, or “temper tantrums”. When Beth brought the issue into therapy, we tuned into her body. There was a strong gripping or contraction in her right shoulder area. I guided Beth into physically grounding and centering, and the sensation in the shoulder increased. By staying present with it, eventually the energy began to soften and move. Through the course of the session, it moved all the way down her torso and leg. Eventually it began to release out her foot. I asked Beth if there were a kick somewhere in that contraction, and indeed there was. The contraction was a frozen “action impulse” that wanted to kick her mom.
While the energy release was happening, we explored the expectations of the child. The child wanted authentic contact, and was very angry about not getting it. Both the wanting it and the anger were wholesome emotions for the child, and I helped Beth see that. We then moved toward her adult. I helped Beth see that although her child wanted authentic contact, her mother was simply not able to provide it. She did not have the capacity. I encouraged Beth to quit expecting that from her mother. I helped her realize that as a young adult, she was now 100% responsible for her own nurturing. She must learn to give it to herself, or draw in people who could give it to her. At this point Beth began to feel guilty for her child “demanding” her mother nurture her, so we spent some time working through the guilt. At the end of the session Beth decided to write a letter to her mother apologizing for her tantrum. She was well on the way toward healing the unconscious expectations of her inner child.
Have you ever found your mind caught in a negative thought loop? If you have observed this you may be wondering why it seems so easy to “go negative, or stay negative”. We as human beings tend to have our attention drawn to the negative. Dr. Baumeister and colleagues, in his work, “Bad is Stronger than Good”, noted there is strong support for the notion that negative information generally has a stronger pull on attention than does positive information. It turns out that the wiring of our brain is the culprit for this fact. Other research indicates that negative things stick out and make a lasting impression much easier than positive things. Generally speaking, when people are presented with a range of trait information about a target individual, the traits are neither “averaged” nor “summed” to reach a final impression. Rather, negative things move to the front of the line, and are remembered the most. When traits differ in terms of their positivity and negativity, negative traits disproportionately impact the final impression.
If you form a negative belief about another person and store it in your memory, it may take 7 to 10 positive things to soften your view of that person. Many people, however, do not want to change their view of another person. It takes quite a bit of mindful awareness to choose to let go of a negative belief. Negative beliefs are wired into the amygdala of the brain, that spot where fear gathers. Once we decide that something is fearful, we are in no hurry to reassess. In the field of neuroscience they discovered that startling experiences go immediately into the long-term memory circuits, and positive things do not. It may take up to 30 seconds of focused attention for an experience to go into long-term memory. It is no surprise, with life’s many daily challenges, that many people have gotten stuck on the negativity loop. The good news is that there are many tools available to counteract the negativity bias of the brain.