Can Toxic Encounters Be Nourishing?

For years teachers and inspiring colleagues have referenced the heart as the key to inner peace, abundance, and health. Over the next few installations I’ll explain how your heart holds your highest potentiality for consistency, as well as every current answer to any ancient question regarding what is possible in your present life and evolution.

Two of my biggest curiosities that led to the Heart: Why does another person’s inner state have an effect on my own? And what should I do when I’m in the company of strong negativity and it seems to have an influence on my own state?

Different cells in our bodies, as well our very fields of energy, even without proximity to one another, synchronize with one another. Each of us are cells in the global heart. This is why we feel “affected” by the moods of others. When we hold resentment and hostility, our heart rhythm shifts the actual shape of the heart muscle; a very different shape from the one created when we feel happiness and joy. You can factually pick up the emotions of another person, even at a distance [non-locally], with your own heart.

We all crave happiness, to see the good and to be nourished by our interactions. Our hearts are all working towards finding the optimal good-feeling shape all the time. Without the clarifying element of our attention, this shared biological resonance becomes a muddy experience of identification with other people’s toxic emotions and projected thoughts. Which has high costs. It takes more energy to adopt and sustain judgments than it does to accept and appreciate.

The most efficient thing you can do is to put your attention on your own heart and create more coherence, symmetry and patience in your own rhythm, by simply breathing. What works for me: I bow my head and turn my actual eyes to my heart in moments of reactivity, and a previously inaccessible patience washes over me. This one movement, chin to chest, invariably helps me find pause and choose my course of action [I have a 3-year old- trust me, this works]. Twenty years of research reveals that to put your attention in your heart for a few breaths generates a coherent heart pattern, experienced within yourself as a healthy calm that inspires others nearby — cellularly — to slow down.

Deepak Chopra is one of the clearest modern thinkers on this concept. In one of his talks, he explained in simple terms the reasons to put attention on your heart, offering the first four Heart Sutras as ways to cultivate particular qualities of heart in order to transform anything potentially draining or poisonous (people, environments, situations, your own feelings) into nourishment — although I’ve found that one single breath with the faintest hint of self-acceptance will usually do the trick.

PEACE, 1st Heart Sutra
Establish yourself in a state of nonviolence, in your attitude and your physicality [even a judgmental word or dismissive gesture is a form of violence]. Nonviolence is a path to deep creativity; in nonviolence we free ourselves to find alternative solutions.

HARMONY, 2nd Heart Sutra
Our biological circadian rhythms mirror exactly that of the universe at any time; when you harmonize with that rhythm through your breathing, you experience harmony and diminish stress levels in your body.

LAUGHTER, 3rd Heart Sutra
Laughter provides a needed shift in perspective; when you can find the humor, even inwardly, you keep your vantage point flexible and will actually discern the quality of energy you’re offering.

LOVE, 4th Heart Sutra
More than an emotion or an experience, Love is a state. When in love, as you know, everything becomes more bright and beautiful; when you locate that state in your heart, even momentarily, you are connecting to the abundance of the universe.

The most interesting and important remembrance in your day-to-day: The most challenging encounters provide the most direct access to your heart. They are showing you the exact route to your remembrance of your heart’s capacity to receive and transform poison (carbon dioxide) into nourishment (oxygen) for your entire body.

In the moments when you’re most likely to engage, erupt, or even eject due to someone else’s toxicity [or your own], bring your chin to your chest and take one breath to bring peace, another to harmonize your heart to the larger field, another to laugh to yourself, and one more to locate the love in this moment, because something of it has reminded you of your heart. This is how you will arrive, quickly, at a vantage point from which you can see the moment prior to your engagement with the negativity, and shift it.

No matter what the situation; tired child, misunderstanding at home or at work, this quick 4-breath practice helps me shift from a reactive mode [in which I’m about the feed the web of negativity] to a reflective mode in which I’m offering my attention with no expectation, attuned to my own heart and therefore the generous heart of the universe. When we can make this shift, someone else’s tension no longer influences our mood, and we’re able to tap into the quiescence and stillness that is eternally present.

May you remember to give what you can and receive what’s available. This is what is known as living in the intelligence of the heart.

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