Meditation ~ A Way to the Heart of Rhythm
by Roxanna L. Rutter, Ph.D. of Vessel of Voices @ Aslan Institute
Unexpected challenges are rocking the very foundation we once took for granted during this great shift on earth. As a friend wrote to me: “The world is changing at warp speed!” We must evolve as humans in order to not only survive but to thrive ~ I believe we can thrive like never before . . . if we engage our hearts and our higher brains! Let’s go right to the heart of the matter first; June focus: the higher brain (see link in bio).
We have the tools, practices, and disciplines to evolve into far more creative, capable, and radiant beings than we’ve ever imagined. Meditation is a key practice here; there are two types of meditation: downward and upward. In downward meditation methods, we engage the body, bringing our breath and awareness into the body. We activate the body-mind-spirit-heart and soul connection. Genuine, lasting transformation is then possible because we have fully engaged our bodies as well as our brains.
In our culture we have a phrase: “She’s a heart-centered person or he comes from his heart.” This implies a connectedness, warmth, compassion and love; but usually not an embodied conscious awareness of one’s actual heart and rhythm of heartbeat. To be aware of one’s own heartbeat and breath rhythm i s a profound step toward optimal health and well-being.
Pause for a moment now ~ place your hand over center of your upper chest or on a pulse point (inner wrist). Can you feel your heart beating? Your heart’s rhythm? Every activity affects your breath, heartbeat, and our rhythm. When your breath and heartbeat are in coherence you are ‘in rhythm’ with your true nature.
Meditation is an essential practice if we are to ride the waves rather than be swamped by a world moving at warp speed. I want to tell you a story of a man who came to meditation over ten years ago at the advice of his doctor.
In 1998 a man was referred to my meditation series by his physician.
“William” told me that if it weren’t for his heart and his doctor’s recommendation, he would not be a student of meditation. William had been retired for a year; during that year he was in and out of the hospital with atrial fibrillation on a monthly basis. “When your heart is out of rhythm, it does not function as it should. Each time your heart goes out of rhythm, it is called an “AFib episode.” (internet) A wake up call for sure! William responded with an openness that led him to a rhythmic heartbeat and breath.
William’s Heart in Meditation
So William arrived ‘green’ with no experience in meditation. In three weeks his ‘out-of-rhythm’ heart was rhythmic most of the time. When his heart skipped a beat, he was aware of it faster, applied the practices, and brought his heart back into rhythm. He was his own star student with his heart as the true teacher. It was an honor to work with him.
By the end of the first eight-week series he reported a very significant decrease in his symptoms and, most importantly, had stayed out of the hospital! He was delighted (and relieved!). I was delighted and mildly surprised at the fast success of the ‘treatment’. This was the first year I was teaching Heart Rhythm Practice (HRP) integrated with The Inner Smile (The Healing Tao).
William attended class for at least six months. He was motivated by his own heart: he practiced regularly, attended every class, and participated fully. A positive feedback loop was happening; when he practiced HRP his heart became rhythmic. This natural rhythm strengthens the heart; more energy and resilience is available. William had a ‘toolbox’ giving him confidence; he could impact his own heartbeat . We can all do this! (Heart Rhythm Meditation research shows significant improvement in heart health and more).
A series later: William surprised me. He announced, “I don’t need to come any longer; I am cured.” He was clearly happy and grateful. He was also convinced that he could stop meditation like medication. Nothing would convince him otherwise, so off he ‘sailed’, optimistic. Symptom-free, he was convinced meditation was like medication.
Ten days after William quit meditation, he called from the hospital. His heart had gone out-of-rhythm. When he meditated he stayed out of hospital; when he stopped meditation, he had to be hospitalized. William listened to the warning ~ once out of the hospital William took his place in the circle again!
By summer of that year we began to meet in his home with a larger group of people.
When more hearts beat together in an atmosphere of awareness and deep listening, of stepping out of the hurly burly rat race, the support grows far beyond that which we create on our own. A sense of peace began to permeate their home; inner obstacles (grief, resentment, deleterious effects of stress) began to dissolve with a feeling of summer sunlight in our hearts.
Then it was time for William and his wife to move south to longer summers. I imagine them gathering folks together on the beach or in a tropical backyard, creating a rhythmic breath, and a collective heartbeat that sustains each of them, building a thriving community with heart-felt purpose!
Roxanna L Rutter, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, M.A. in Studio Arts,
and certificates in expressive arts, meditation, Authentic Movement, and Voice Movement Therapy. Roxanna has taught integrative meditation for 18 years. She brings a rare depth, knowledge, and creative inquiry to her work, borne out of extensive studies, travels, and a rich tapestry of extraordinary teachers. She is the founder and director of Vessel of Voices @ Aslan Institute, Eagan, MN. In her private practice she specializes in midlife, life transitions, and helping clients live from their hearts and higher brains. Next “Your Heart Matters” Meditation class begins in June. A remarkable system and training is on the horizon: “In January I discovered Higher Brain Living (HBL); I am embarking upon one of the most transformational trainings of my life; I am most eager to offer this to people who are ready to truly ‘change it up’.”
In August Dr. Rutter will be a licensed HBL Facilitator and offering HBL at Aslan Institute.