Monday, 18 February 2013

Emotional Intelligence & Feel More Gratitude Meditation

Let's face it, no one deserve to be subjected to over powering anger and rage... it' seems to be a big issue these days. There are too many people feeling dissatisfied over their lives with a sense of lack of control/power resulting in behaviours that spring out of control in a moment of emotional impulse, and as a result, they receive less than desired outcomes. With Black Friday happening and that Valentines tragedy with former Olympian Champ, Oscar...
I can't speculate or condemn anyone as nothing is quite conclusive through media leads so far etc, but I still can't keep wondering what the dynamics were.

I am so deeply fascinated with why we, as humans behave the way we do. The recent shooting of Oscar Pretorius' girlfriend made me think of a subject I ardently enjoy learning about and improving in myself as well as teaching it to those who are hungry for their own personal growth.
It is my guess that things got a little heated between the two of them and his "passions" & impulses took hold over his sensibilities and well, you know what the end result was. I know it's probably not the best intro or way to start a meditation, but I do so to illustrate a desperate point which is this:

Society really is starting to unravel at it's seams and at a greater speed and with so much demand on our performances and achievements. We seem to treat each other meanly in traffic, we see adults in full blown temper-tantrums over little things that just rub us the wrong way, we are defensive, take things personally, we have little regard for how we say things, listen to others and a lack of empathy for the experience of others when we interact, because we are too busy with our own agendas. Too much meanness of spirit looms around... and to me a lack of emotional intelligence plays a huge role in how we experience day to day quality of life & create experiences with those we interact with.

Impulse is the medium of emotion, Daniel Golman describes it as "the seed of all impulse is a feeling bursting to express itself into action. Those who are at the mercy of impulse -  who lack self-control -  suffer a moral deficiency: The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character."

So what is emotional intelligence? 
In a very short description, it's the ability to understand your emotions, where they stem from & why, what their uses are etc and the ability to evaluate and adjust. It is the ability/ aptitude for articulating it within yourself and recognising it in others.
The thing our society seems to need more of is self-restraint  and more compassion... this is where Meditation comes in handy... 'Cause let's admit it, we all get into heated arguments, we can get totally irritated and defensive with those who live closest to us... Right? We all share these instincts that have evolved over millions of years and even with a more developed brain, the old structure still seems to over-ride all sensibilities where we sabotage the lives we actually do want to live.

Perhaps I'll write a bit more on the physiological happenings about our emotions and responses another time, but here is a meditation that is a heart rate coherence method that marries the limbic brain (where our instinctual impulses stem from as well as our emotions) & the cognitive brain (more modern brain for logic, analysis & order etc) so that when things feel like they might get a little out of control (think emotional high-jacking taking place), one can train the nervous system to calm down. I.O.W. deal with things in a more peacefull, coherent manner.

The key lies in... the way you breathe! That simple... The body is so inter-connected that the emotions we feel can be embedded and felt in our physical body through our nervous system; either creating stress or pleasure. This is why I include a lot of breath retentions in my yoga classes to relieve muscular-held tensions in the body.

Body language can also kick in certain moods. The most calming emotions are very interconnected/ related: 1.Gratitude, 2 Appreciation & 3. love. I feel Gratitude in my chest... a very expansive physical feeling which is wonderful to experience. 

The Feel More Gratitude Meditation by Madelain Burgoyne:
To begin, choose your comfortable seated or lying down position.

Stage 1 Focus:
  • Close the eyes.
  • Be willing to put aside the usual personal concerns, distractions & agendas for the next few moments to give your heart and brain the time it needs to recover & rebalance.
  • Begin by taking two deep, very slow, deep breaths. They will immediately stimulate the parasympathetic system into applying the ‘breaks’. Then allow the breathing to be more relaxed and less manipulated, but still breathing fully.
  • Relax the shoulders as you extend the spine long.
  • Keep your attention focused on the breath to maximise the affect.
  • Once the exhalations are complete, pause for a second before the next breath inwards starts on its own.
  • The point is to let your mind float with the out-breaths up to the point where it lightens up becoming mellow and buoyant inside your chest.  ( Take several breaths or as long as you like)
Stage 2 Breathing through the heart centre:
  • Now follow your awareness and breathe into your heart.
  • Imagine that you are breathing through the centre of your chest A.K.A. your heart centre.
  • Visualise and really feel each inhale and exhale as though it is passing through the heart centre in your chest.
  • Imagine that each breath-intake nourishes and each exhale rids the body of what it no longer needs. (let your attention rest here for a few moments before moving onto the next stage).
Stage 3 Foster the feeling of Gratitude:

  • Now as you breath nice and easy; draw on or call up any feeling of gratitude and allow that feeling to fill your heart centre. (E.g. nature, doing something that makes you calm, another person, whatever works for you.) Stay there for several breaths or as long as you like.
  • As you re-call or re-experience this thing you're grateful for, notice if there are sensations of warmth or expansiveness that is developing in your chests. See if you can expand the feeling to the very edges of your body. Notice where else in the body, the feeling of gratitude can be felt. 
  • Stay here for a few moments and foster of keep cultivating this feeling with your thoughts and breathe.
Stage 4 coming out of the meditation:
  • Slowly draw your attention to the surrounding noises in your environment without opening the eyes too quickly. You want to come out slowly as not to disturb the stillness you have created for yourself.
  • After the mind is feeling more eager for movement, begin with your practice or carry on with whatever you were doing before.

To take this meditation further, one can draw up feelings of appreciation & love one after the other, just breathing and fostering it through the heart centre before ending the practice with stage 4.

This centring meditation should be practised at length least once a day, but is also particularly useful to practice for short durations and frequently throughout your day to help train/ re-train the mind, brain and autonomic nervous system into more coherence and congruence.
You can also practice this method at the beginning of a yoga session or at the end during your final relaxation position, spending more time in each stage of the method if you have the time. Otherwise take 2-5 minutes doing this throughout the day should be just as effective.

This method will help you to reduce stress, manage emotional flares, help encourage hormonal balance, develop emotional articulation (emotional intelligence) and rebuild healthier ways in dealing with tense situations or just to build a more resilient way of feeling and reacting.

The point is to practice consistently for min 8 weeks so that you can eventually just call more coherence up at a whim without having to go through the entire meditations. Sometimes taking two or three really deep breaths is all one needs to re-balance and re-call your centre in tough spots.

Let me know if you enjoyed the meditation.

Here's to a more engaged, considerate and compassionate society, one breath at a time!
Love Madelain