Andrea Lott joined us today to talk about grief and how it might feel different right now because we can’t be with the people we love when we lose them. There’s very little that can replace a hug. Ironically, it’s touching more than just coronavirus victims. Even people dying from other causes are passing at a time when we can’t run to the side of the people closest to them to give them a hug or sit and remember the good times. The risk is feelings getting buried and depression grabbing hold while we sit in isolation.
Andrea offers some advice from her experience as a grief counselor (she also came highly recommended from a client). After talking with her, I can see why she’s so good at what she does. Take a minute and listen to her wisdom and then, if you want to know more about the Anchoring Heart Technique, look below.
And please share this with whoever needs to hear her words of comfort right now. Andrea has graciously extended her availability, her email is lottae at ah.org (you know, change the at to @).
The Anchoring Heart Technique is an age-old somatic practice that grounds people and helps them feel more secure. It is simple and straightforward; the hard part is remembering to do it when you feel uncomfortable feelings you prefer to disconnect from.
WHEN YOU ARE CENTERED: Calm energy usually resides low and deep within yourself. You might report feeling open and relaxed.
WHEN YOU ARE “Beside Yourself”: Anxious energy usually rises; it’s no longer deep in your belly, but climbs up in your chest. Your voice often rises in pitch. You might report feeling uptight and flighty.
WHEN YOU ACCESS INNATE BODY WISDOM: Have you ever received bad news that caught you off guard? Maybe you gasped and grabbed your chest with an open palm, UNCONSCIOUSLY anchoring yourself. The “Anchoring Heart Technique” simply applies the same gesture CONSCIOUSLY. It is:
• an act of self compassion you can use whenever you feel anxious, stressed, or helpless
• useful whenever you are in need of strength, courage, or patience
• helpful to re-train your brain and the synapses in your nervous system to allow emotional pain and hurt sit side by side with peace (instead of fear)
There are 3 steps to the Anchoring Heart Technique:
- anchor the Heart firmly and tenderly & Breathe deeply
- feel whatever uncomfortable feeling that you are experiencing (even if it’s just for a few seconds)
- be curious about the place inside that is NOT afraid of emotional pain (builds awareness and new synaptic nerve connections)
You can use one hand or two; you can keep your eyes open, lower them, or close them — whatever is most comfortable for you or whatever the circumstance might dictate.
Marie Bainbridge, a Vietnam Veteran Bronze-star recipient, uses the Anchoring Heart Technique when her PTSD is triggered. However, she says she also uses it in many ordinary situations: “I can be impatient in traffic. If I’m in a store and someone is blocking the aisle so no one can get around them, I want to huff and puff and complain about their self-centeredness. Now, I use the Anchoring Heart Technique to cultivate patience, courtesy, and self-control. It really helps.”
People can also use the Anchoring Heart Technique with others. People often need anchoring and security, especially during times filled with uncertainty. If a calm person places their open hand on an unsettled person’s sternum, it can often help him/her feel secure, more stable, and less anxious. Place your hand firmly on the other person’s heart and just breathe deeply to induce calmness. This often helps the other person feel more connected with themselves and more secure in their own skin.
An alternative form of the Anchoring Heart Technique is to approach the heart from behind – in other words placing your hand firmly on their back between their shoulder blades. This conveys a feeling of “I’ve got your back.” It can be used with people you don’t know well when placing your hand on their heart would be too intimate or too invasive.