Not long ago I read an interesting meditation on the circulatory system – specifically, how a drop of blood journeys without end from the center of the heart to the far reaches of the body, the fingers, the toes, etc., and then back again to the heart.
The purpose of this journey of circulation is to move the nourishment found in freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs into all the various parts of the body. As the blood makes its rounds with its deliveries of fresh oxygen to organs, muscles and other tissues, it naturally depletes, and ultimately returns to the heart which, through its muscular pumping action, re-oxygenates the blood and sends it on its way once again. And again. And so on.
What makes this scientific story a meditation is that it is a metaphor for the spiritual life. The heart, appropriately, is the temple of God, the church, the body of Christ. It is where we go to be fed with the gifts of the spirit: love and acceptance, care and support, relief and healing, encouragement and empowerment.
When we are filled and fulfilled, when we are cared for, healed and empowered, we can then return to the journey, wherein we take this enriched blood with us to nourish people and situations which can often be joyful and fulfilling, but also demanding of our resources.
What resonated so strongly with me about this metaphoric meditation is that it teaches that when life gets too difficult or demanding, we are invited to return to the heart. To put our focus there, to quietly breathe – in and out – and regain joy and peace.
It was the research of the HeartMath Institute that discovered the neural (brain) cells in the heart, and determined that the electromagnetic field of the heart is five thousand times more powerful than that of the brain.
While it is tempting to say, “Hmm. Let’s think about that for a moment,” perhaps it’s more appropriate to ask, “Hmm. How does that make you feel?” Then, instead of looking quizzically up to the ceiling, we might put a hand over the heart, close the eyes and take a soft, deep breath that ends with a sigh. Now, that feels right.
HeartMath has developed a series of breath work techniques that enable the individual to achieve a state of coherence, in which the nervous system is synchronized, and regenerating hormones are released.
In this state, signals to the brain move through the emotional and higher brain centers, opening the door to uplifting emotions, and enabling access to intuitive insight. These techniques all begin with focused breathing, visualizing the breath entering and leaving the heart until it is felt that coherence is achieved.
In spiritual terms, coherence can be described as that feeling of being firmly grounded in the spirit, nourished and cherished, and ready to move out into the world to do the healing, transformative work of spirit.
Breath work in itself is transformative. It can renew and refresh the body, focus the mind and settle the soul. In the second creation story of Genesis, the creating God forms the first human from the soil of the earth, literally breathes life into this form, and thus we come into being. And we all know that without breath we cannot live. One of the Greek terms for spirit in the Bible is pneuma, which means breath. We cannot live without spirit either. Breath is what puts oxygen into the blood, which is moved by the heart throughout the body in its continuous journey to bring nourishment and refreshment to the organs and tissues of the body. Which is where this little essay begins, so in effect we have circled – or circulated – back to our beginning!
The journey of heart, breath and blood is fascinating and inspiring. Would you like to spend some time exploring this? If you would like to leave a voicemail (360/945-7105) or email (email@example.com), we will plan an evening of spiritual journey through breath and heart.
In the meantime, take time, once in a while, to breathe with awareness and tune into your heart. It may be one evening, but it is part of a life journey.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here