Looking out my window or within through the window of my soul is like watching the changing seasons. Those not part of Florida don’t think we even have seasons, but our perception of nuance is akin to the Inuit words for snow. Imperceptible little variations and we turn to a friend on a 98 degree day in September—sweat dripping off our nose—and say “Fall is coming!”

Late summer storms brought the bougainvillea and hibiscus over the wall, while the ficus nudges the house just below the second story window. All of this lushness is not what a northern visitor would recognize as a harbinger of Fall, but we are so tuned to nuance in mother nature’s details.

There are no facts—only perceptions.

I am experiencing a season of introspection as a result of being on the “doctor-go-round.” Tomorrow my tired body submits to one more invasive procedure in the search for meaning in a cluster of symptoms. The journey has focused me on the nuances of my body, a geography more complex than our yard and harder to control. It has been said that facts don’t matter as perception is everything. In science, facts are all that matter, but facts live in the brain, while perception and emotion live in the heart and soul. Knowing this to be true, it changes how I approach my procedure tomorrow—not physically but emotionally. If I see it in dread or fear, my physiological response will be rising blood pressure, changes in heart rate and the release of stress hormones. If I use my HeartMath® tools and meditation skills prior to the procedure, my body will release calming hormones while lowering my blood pressure and heart rate. I also use the anchors in my body I created by using Lance Ware’s Somatic Intuitive Training™, which I’ll cover in my next article. Using my tools is a choice, but first I have to perceive myself as capable of choice in this situation. I can’t see myself as a helpless cog in the system but a recipient of the system’s knowledge with the probability of a positive outcome. Even in cases where something is discovered to be problematic, the holding of positive emotion will assist in approaching the problem. This is not just positive thinking. A positive emotion carries energy throughout the body, directly affecting the stress levels. This energy comes from the heart.

In the Celtic world, the body resides within the soul. Visualizing the container of the soul holding you tenderly creates a beautiful emotional space. The wonderful Celtic writer John O’Donohue wrote: “All around you is a beautiful soul light. Close your eyes and relax into your body. Imagine a light all around you, the light of your soul. Then, with your breath, draw that light into your body and bring it with your breath through every area of your body.” This is my favorite mode of prayer.

Practicing this way of being is essential, so deciding to do these things in the midst of a chaotic and noisy medical environment without adequate practice will not work. I teach my clients that every day practice is essential to begin your set of purposes and ground them in your body. Then they will be available to you in an instant when you need them. I recommend you begin with the following simple tool—your breath. I begin my practice before I get out of bed in the morning and end it in bed before sleep. Do not underestimate the power of your breath! It breathes your body through life. Throughout the day, do the following:

  1. Focus on your breathing. Is it deep or shallow? Rapid or slow?
  2. As you become aware, find your breath in your chest and visualize it around your heart. Choose a color—green is always good.
  3. Deepen the breath—breathing in, exhaling out and being aware of both acts.
  4. Ask yourself if your body is relaxing as you breathe deeper.

Do this throughout the day whenever you think of it. It’s a small investment for such a huge payoff in physical and emotional health. Work up to five minutes at a time as you go about your day.

The next time we meet, I’ll share the expansion of the breathing tool to regulate your whole body and your environment. When you change your perception from the body as machine to the body as the heart within the soul of you, you will be working with—not against—your beautiful self.

Therèse Tappouni is the author of six published books—four of which have received major awards—and creator of two meditation/visualization CDs. Her latest book is The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss. Therèse is the founder of the company Whole Heart, dedicated to helping people live a balanced, loving and creative life. She teaches workshops for women in mid-life, grief workshops, women’s history classes, resilience workshops and one-on-one coaching created from her certification as a HeartMath® Trainer. She has also trained in many other modalities, including Somatic Intuitive Training™ and Time Dimension Therapy™