Open Heart NeuroMeditation
The Open Heart Style of NeuroMeditation emphasizes activating and enhancing positive feeling states, such as love, compassion, generosity, gratitude, or joy. With many/most of these practices you are intending to “send” these feelings out to others in the world; targets for these practices may be yourself, family, friends, acquaintances, or regions of the world that are experiencing conflict. You may also want to practice Focus NeuroMeditation as Open Heart practices require the ability to sustain attention in a particular way.
Open Heart practices increase gamma brainwaves in regions of the brain involved in sustaining attention, synthesizing communication between thoughts and feelings, empathy, and in cultivating body-based emotional feelings. Below is a guided meditation that utilizes the Open Heart style:
More guided meditations can be found here.
To Begin Open Heart Meditation:
- You might simply try a modified Focus NeuroMeditation that targets the heart center. First, spend a few minutes becoming grounded in your body. Notice the entirety of the body; the weight of the body being supported by your chair or meditation cushion. Then, tune in to the breathing in the belly, spending a few breath cycles noticing the easy, rhythmic flow of the breath, then continuing to breath, nice and easy. Shift the attention to the heart center-the center of the chest- and with each inhalation, imagine breathing white, loving, healing energy into the heart. With each exhalation, sink the energy into the heart. Put a slight grin on the face and imagine smiling down to the heart. With each breath continue sending loving energy into the heart center, noticing any sensations of feelings and allowing them to become more pronounced as the meditation continues. Let the intention go, and simply sit in the warmth of these feelings….
- Download the Mindfulness Bell phone app and set it to go off every hour throughout the day. Each time it goes off, take a moment and see if you can find something to be grateful for. It is important that you actually tune in to the physical feeling of gratitude, not just the thought.
- Find a memory of a time when you experienced a strong, positive emotion and go back to this memory when you begin feeling stressed, angry, or disappointed. Can you recall more than the details, but also the feeling-can you feel it right now? Use this as an anchor when you need it.
- Go here to experience a guided Open Heart NeuroMeditation (try doing this before bed).
- If you are in a state of active depression, it might be best to begin with a Focus NeuroMeditation practice, shifting to Open Heart practices once the depression begins to lift.
- If you struggle to engage a positive emotional state, just focus on breathing through the heart, imagining that you are activating your heart center. Be patient and continue the practice and watch as things begin to change.
- Remember to be patient and kind toward yourself. These practices are challenging and you are doing the best you can right now.
While it is important to have a consistent formal practice (like meditation), it is also important to bring these practices into your daily life.
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Note: For individuals who have experienced traumatic or overwhelming life events, certain meditation or relaxation practices can contribute to unmanageable affect and bodily sensations. As a result, trauma survivors may decide that they are not capable of meditation, or that it’s “not right for them.” It’s important to understand that traumatic experiences can significantly affect our perceptions and our sense of self, and can sensitize us to sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Fortunately, there are helpful ways to ensure that meditation instruction is trauma-informed, with an emphasis on grounding and physical and emotional security. Please see the section on Trauma Informed NeuroMeditation for more details, or contact an NMI Therapist near you.