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5 Easy Steps to Calm

It's easy to get swept away by our thoughts and emotions, especially during periods of isolation. One way to interrupt the flow and cultivate a sense of calm presence is the simple practice of placing your hand on your heart. I like to call it the "Sacred Pause". The nice thing about this practice is that you can do it as many times as you need and as long as you need!

This nourishing gesture releases oxytocin, the hormone of safety and trust, of calm and connection.

Touch is one of the fastest ways we have to both calm down, re-energize the nervous system and restore a sense of safety, according to Dacher Keltner, founder of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

Practice: The Sacred Pause

1. The Sacred Pause is both mindful and self-compassionate. Place your hand on the center of your chest near the heart. Gently breath into your "heart center".

2. Bring to mind a special moment with someone you see and kind and compassionate - a beloved pet, a partner, a child, a friend, a therapist, a teacher; or a spiritual figure.

3. Recall the feelings of that moment - of being loved and safe. Let those feelings fill you. Stay with them for a few easeful breaths.

4. Now, imagine some kind words you would receive during that moment. Here are some samples: "It's all right." "You've got this." "Breathe, my friend." "You matter." "You are loved."

5. Repeat this practice at least five times per day for two weeks. The consistency of practice will create a neural pathway and strengthen your body/brain connection. This gentle pattern will calm the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, reducing the fight or flight response. You will assist your heart to respond to stress with more flexibility.

Let me know if you decide to try this!

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