Exercises- Heart Tracking

  1. You can get used to this practice by doing it after physical exercise, a natural and positive form of stress that raises the heart rate 
  2. As soon as you have finished some cardio-vascular exercise, come to a comfortable standing position. Have a slight bend in the knees so that you feel easy, relaxed and stable on the ground.

       This is a simple practice, but this does not mean that it is easy.

  1. Notice how the exercise has increased both your rate of breathing and your heart rate.
  2. Place the palm of your right hand on the left side of your rib cage, making sure that the whole hand is on the ribs.
  3. Allow your palm, fingers and thumb to be relaxed. Don’t press too hard as this can make it difficult to feel your heartbeat.
  4. Because your heart rate is elevated, you should be able to feel your heartbeat clearly, probably under your thumb.

Draw your attention to the beats. Feel the beats under your thumb. 

  1. Allow your breath to flow easily and naturally as you focus on your heart rate.
  2. If it is comfortable, close your eyes, or have them half-closed, if that is better for you. If you would prefer not to close your eyes let your focus relax downwards on to a fixed spot in front of you or on the ground. 

Continue to breathe naturally and fully.

  1. The speed of your heartbeat will begin to steady as your body’s systems realize that the heart does not need to keep pumping an increased amount of blood to the muscles.

                    As you feel the heartbeat steady and slow down, notice how this makes you feel.  

      If any thoughts arise, let them come and go. Acknowledge them, but do not dwell on them.

  1. The physical contact of your hand close to your heart encourages the steadying of the heart rate.

 

                   You are also signaling to your heart a sense of your heart being ‘held’.

  1. You can finish the practice as you feel the heart rate steadying, or you can continue for as long as you find the practice soothing and reassuring.

 

Conclusion

 

For some people, finding and following the heartbeat can be hard. Be patient with yourself, as simple exercises can have a powerful self-soothing effect. If it works well for you this practice can be a great ally whenever you feel your heart beginning to race as the result of stressors, painful memories, if you are finding it hard to get to sleep, or if you are awakened rapidly. 

 

If you are using it to calm your systems for the night, and you sleep on your back, it can be easier to place your hand on your upper chest, instead of on your ribcage. As you get used to the practice you will discover whether the chest or rib cage works better for you. What is important is that you connect to your heart rate, boost your skills of interoception, and send a reassuring message to your systems that your heart is being ‘held’.