The Connection Practice at the Purpose Collective!

This series of four classes will be held at The Purpose Collective, 101 Stone Ridge Blvd., N. Asheville.

Cathy Holt has taught nonviolent communication for over 15 years. She is a certified teacher and coach of the Connection Practice, and a certified HeartMath® coach.

1. The Connection Practice: Empathy & Insight for Healthier Relationships – Sunday, August 19, 3-6pm

  • Do you want more heart-based communication skills?
  • Would you like a way to self-regulate your emotions and behaviors to lower stress and increase resilience?
  • Want access to your intuitive intelligence?

This experiential, interactive class, firmly based in heart and brain science, helps deepen our connection with the hearts of others. Please pre-register by August 17.

2. The Heart of Empathy: Giving and Receiving Empathy through Feelings & Needs – Sunday, September 30, 3-6pm

  •  What empathy is…and isn’t
  •  Replacing judgments with the language of feelings & needs
  •  How empathy for self and others decreases everyone’s stress

3. Gratitude, the Heart, and Heart Insights – October (date TBA)

  • How gratitude makes us happy
  • Heart breathing and Quick Coherence
  • How heart insights can improve communication and relationships

4. Collective Care: Assisting in Conflict Resolution – November (date TBA)

  • Quick coherence and the group energy field
  • Guessing feelings and needs empathically
  • Accessing heart insights for finding solutions

Pre-registration via Eventbrite, please see https://www.facebook.com/pg/heartspeakpeace/events/ or by emailing cathyfholt@gmail.com. Suggested donation: $20-45 per class. Paying the higher amount enables scholarships to those in need. 10% discount available when you sign up for all four! Please ask about scholarships. For those with some background in nonviolent communication, each class can stand alone.

Gratitude: the Honey in Our Hearts

“Near your breastbone, there is an open flower. Drink the honey that is all around that flower.” -Kabir

Honey, in my heart

Honey, in my heart

“Love is the answer, whatever the question.” -A Course in Miracles

“Long life, honey in the heart.” -traditional Mayan blessing

Our hearts have a gift to offer, to us and to the world. According to the Institute of HeartMath (IHM), the heart generates an electromagnetic field which is 5,000 times stronger than that generated by the brain and permeates every organ, every cell in our bodies. It is the most powerful generator in the body, and this field extends at least three feet beyond our own skins. If we are frustrated, angry or upset, the heart rhythm (heart rate variability pattern) is erratic and irregular. But if we are breathing calmly while focusing on gratitude and appreciation, the heart rhythm becomes smooth and regular. This state is called “heart-brain coherence.”

What happens as a result? Every system in the body is “entrained” with the heart, which allows it to function at its best. That means that the digestion, the immune system, the nervous system, and yes–the brain–all work much better. Studies done by IHM show that during states of high coherence, stress hormones like cortisol drop, while levels of DHEA (an anti-aging hormone) rise.  Benefits have been demonstrated for blood pressure, digestion, asthma, diabetes, insomnia, congestive heart failure, anxiety, and depression.

How does all this affect our brains? We can think much more clearly, even access creative insights and intuition from this state of maximum well-being known as “high coherence.” Consider: when we are very stressed, we are in a state of “fight or flight,” in which our old reptilian brain takes over and we are not using our higher cortical brain functions. We are wired that way for survival, actually. The problem is that most of our everyday, chronic stressors–technology, interpersonal conflicts–do not call for fleeing or fighting, but do require the ability to think clearly and communicate well.

So how can you cultivate high coherence? It’s simple!

1) Focus on your heart. Drop your awareness from the mind to the heart. Touch or tap on your chest if that helps you.

2) Breathe quite slowly and rhythmically, feeling your belly and chest expand with the breath and relax with the exhalation.

3) Focus on a feeling of appreciation or gratitude, the warm feeling in your heart that is evoked by a beloved pet (such as cuddling with my sweet cat, Honey), or a dear grandchild, a beautiful place like a waterfall or a beach–whatever comes most easily and naturally to you. It’s not the thought, it’s the feeling that produces all the benefits.

4) Continue your slow, rhythmic breathing and enjoy the feelings of love and appreciation, knowing that you are attaining heart-brain coherence!

5) Here’s one additional practice that I often do with my cat: Breathing slowly into my heart, I feel my loving feelings; breathing out, I imagine sending this energy to her heart; breathing in, I take in a bit of her heart energy and I sense her love for me. You can do this with a person, a pet, a tree, a stream…the person does not have to be present. Observe how you feel as you do this. Are you calmer, more content and clear?

Practice this frequently, so that when you are frustrated or overwhelmed, you can interrupt the runaway train of stressful thoughts and reactions, and return to peace and clarity. A daily practice firmly establishes a helpful habit!

“Love is that flame that, once kindled, burns everything, and only the mystery and the journey remain. We have no immunity to love, and gratitude is one of the great arms of love.” -Rumi

 

 

 

The miraculous human heart

 “Near your breastbone there is an open flower. Drink the honey that is all around that flower. Waves are coming in; there is so much magnificence near the ocean!”  – Kabir

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  – Antoine de St-Exupery

heartOur human heart beats 100,000 times a day, 2 gallons of blood/minute, yet is much more than a pump. The heart is also an endocrine gland, secreting 5 hormones, and is part of the central nervous system.  The heart’s hormones affect how we learn, remember, explore. Over 60% of the heart cells are neural cells, like in the brain; the heart stores memories (especially emotional ones). The heart has its own intelligence. The amygdala, a part of the old “reptilian” brain which can trigger the “fight or flight” response, is a receptor of cardiac information. Much new information impacts the heart first, and then the brain.

The human heart is the most powerful electomagnetic (EM) generator and receiver in the body, and is an organ of perception and communication. The magnetic field produced by the heart is a torus (fractal); it is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain’s EM field! And it’s detectable over ten feet from the body. EM fields produced by the heart regulate DNA, RNA, protein synthesis. The bloodstream conducts EM impulses throughout the body. The heart both transmits and receives EM energy and thus is highly involved in perception.

All living organisms give off electric energy and magnetic fields. Electromagnetic (EM) communication goes on between all living organisms, all the time. Magnetic fields influence enzymes, cell growth & metabolism, and tissue repair. Both electrical and magnetic signals can be amplified.

Migrating species (salmon, birds, bees) use earth’s geomagnetic lines for navigation.

The hippocampus in the brain responds to magnetic frequencies, communicates with the amygdala and modulates emotional responses and immunity, and deciphers meaning. Too much sustained cortisol (stress hormone) in the system means the hippocampus can’t do its job.

Entrainment

When the EM fields of two hearts come together, they entrain to each other and interchange information. In fact, heart sparkleswhen the EM fields of any two life forms come together, they entrain. The mother’s and infant’s fields are entrained in utero, and during holding and breastfeeding. The infant’s heart must have this or it cannot develop properly.

Alterations in the heart’s EM spectrum are emotions, which show up as changes in heart rate and heart rate variability; the heart thus conducts information from the world to the central nervous system and brain, encoded in cardiac wave patterns.

scan0002Heart Coherence involves synchronization, resonance, and entrainment. One may begin by shifting to a heart focus, or focus on external sensory cues. The heart is the most powerful oscillator in the body. Other oscillating systems in the body automatically entrain to it: respiration, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the digestive system synchronize. When the parasympathetic dominates, the body relaxes.

For heart coherence, it’s helpful to remember and re-experience feelings of caring, love, and appreciation. As coherence deepens, hormones in the body alter: a 23% drop in cortisol; 100% increase in DHEA (anti-aging hormone, assists healing); dopamine production in the heart is enhanced, improving information transfer from heart to brain; and IgA (an immune enhancing hormone) increases.

In addition, blood pressure drops, peripheral vision increases, hippocampal activity increases, sending messages to the neocortex. Learning and intuition increase. There are fewer arrhythmias, and improvements in congestive heart failure, asthma, diabetes, fatigue, mitral valve prolapse, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

The coherent heart field affects others positively. We are immersed in living energy fields of communication generated by intelligent life forms, including all living beings. The heart is an organ of perception, whereas the brain is more like a computer. The verbal is linear, but the heart is holistic.redbud

Imagine the electromagnetic field of a tree (and its state of coherence).

We can breathe in the tree’s energy, breathe out our own heart energy back to the tree. Or we can do that with each other’s hearts. As wonderful as it feels to get into coherence just by ourselves, the combined energy field when several people are breathing together and practicing coherence is yet more profoundly peaceful.

Much of this material is derived from The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

 

What is a HeartSpeak class?

“What will I learn in a HeartSpeak class?”

scan0001HeartSpeak is the language of feelings and needs. It’s based on “Nonviolent Communication,” for which I am very grateful to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Can communication sometimes be violent? Verbal violence is not only making threats of punishment. Much more of our speech is violent in that it is not respectful of the other person. Our minds may be full of thoughts, opinions, evaluations, judgments, criticisms, comparisons and analysis. Unfortunately, when we communicate these things to others, it usually does not help us connect with them. It takes us out of our hearts and into our heads.

On the other hand, when we speak about our own feelings and needs, these are universal and less likely to provoke a defensive reaction. It allows others to hear us better. For example, if in the midst of a conversation I say, “I’m really upset, and I need some space!” it will have a very different impact than if I said, “You shouldn’t tell me how to live my life!” A person hearing “You shouldn’t…” may feel angry and defensive, and start arguing, defending, justifying–none of which helps people to connect at the heart.

Empathy is the effort to recognize, and reflect back, the feelings and needs of another person. Since we can never really know, it’s always a guess–such as, “Are you feeling overwhelmed right now, and are you needing some peace and quiet?” Even if we guess wrong, the other person is usually helped to get in touch with what their own inner state is, and that is a gift. Although we may really want to help them solve their problems, most people prefer to come up with their own answers with the help of the reflection you give them through respectful, empathic listening.

Like any new language, HeartSpeak is not learned in a day, and it’s helpful to practice and try it on! That’s why a HeartSpeak class includes lots of experiential exercises like role-plays and sentence-completions. And it’s fun! We laugh a lot.

The first of the upcoming HeartSpeak classes is a free taste. After that, there are five more classes, for $60. I encourage you to take all six classes so that you can establish a firm foundation and get plenty of opportunities to practice! You’ll be learning to make neutral observations that avoid triggering people; expressing feelings (not thoughts) and needs (not strategies); making a positive request that’s do-able in real time; and giving empathy to ourselves and others. We devote special time to anger and how to manage it effectively, without suppressing it but recognizing the judgmental thoughts that give rise to it.

I hope you’ll visit the other pages on this website to understand more!