I’d like to share two very simple but very profound and powerful practices that can help us to develop deeper self-love and acceptance, and deeper empathy. With these practices, we gain a sense of being attuned not only to others, but also to ourselves. In fact, we find that there’s a reciprocal relationship: the more we become attuned to others, the more we become attuned to ourselves and vice versa. These practices can also help us develop greater emotional stability and resilience. Let’s jump right in. What I’m going to ask you to do right now, if you please, is:
- Take your left hand and place it on your heart.
- Take your right hand and place it over your left hand.
What is happening here, as we know from scientific studies, is that right now we are releasing oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neural modulator that has been called the “love hormone.” It is involved in pair bonding and nursing. When a mother nurses her babe, large amounts of oxytocin are released.
This practice reactivates the social engagement system of the middle prefrontal cortex, the part that makes us most human. (For more understanding of why that is, please see my blog Meditation and the Physical Transformation of the Brain, Part III.) It helps us to anchor a felt sense in the body of safety and trust, so that we can actually begin to hardwire our brains for a deeper sense of connection and belonging. Ultimately, this builds resilience in us, because the more we feel connected, loved, and safe, the easier it is for us to bounce back from stressful situations.
Now, while you have your hand on your heart, I would like you to:
- Breathe gently and very deeply into your heart.
- Imagine your breath going into your heart.
- Breathe very deeply into the heart—in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
- As much as you can, gather any sense of goodness, of safety, of trust, acceptance, and ease.
- Gather that into your heart as you breathe.
- Now, recall a time in your life when you were with someone who loves you unconditionally.
- Picture that person. It could be a relative, it could be a close friend, it could be a trusted teacher, or it could be anyone in your life that has evoked for you a sense of unconditional love.
- As best you can, just allow that image to come to your mind.
- Continue your deep breathing.
- Now, allow this deeper sense of safety, this deeper sense of love, to soak into your consciousness. Really savor this feeling.
- Allow the warmth. Become aware of it.
- Notice how you feel. Observe the feeling in your body.
- Now, observe the part of you that’s observing the feeling.
- Notice this state.
- Allow this state to become anchored in your body.
What you are doing is using your intention to focus your attention to literally hardwire your brain for more profound levels of connection, resilience, awareness, and feelings of safety.
Now I will share one more practice that is helpful anytime you are feeling out of sorts. If you wish, you can also incorporate this into your daily meditation practice. Or you can do this throughout the day.
About one inch behind the point between your eyebrows is a little area of the brain called the anterior cingulate. It separates the limbic system from the middle prefrontal areas of the brain, and acts as a kind of fulcrum to balance our sense of awareness with our emotions.
When you’re feeling out of sorts, and you feel emotionally overwhelmed:
- Slow your breath down.
- Breathe deep down into your belly.
- And place your attention right there between the eyebrows, an inch behind the forehead, on the anterior cingulate.
It’s not necessary to know what the anterior cingulate looks like. Just allow your attention to stay there, softly and effortlessly.
When you do this, you’re using your attention as a gateway to direct the flow of energy and information to the part of your brain that enables you to feel more connected to your world. This practice enables you to consciously connect your emotions with your higher awareness, integrating them in a way that instills more flexibility and resilience in times of stress.
Eric Thompson is a co-founder of iAwake Technologies, LLC and was its Chief Technology Officer. Although no longer with iAwake Technologies, his contributions have been immense. Eric is also an inventor, researcher, and producer, and is considered one of the world’s foremost brainwave entrainment experts. In addition, Eric is a pioneer in the development of biofield entrainment technology, which digitally captures and transmits life-enhancing and beneficial subtle energies to the human biofield via any digital medium, including pictures, audio, and film. By combining this emerging technology with an unconventional, innovative, and original approach to audio brainwave entrainment, Eric strives to make profound spiritual development and emotional freedom more easily accessible to all. He writes and speaks on the intersection between neuroscience, psychology, subtle energy, and spirituality.