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Anchoring Heart Technique
The Anchoring Heart Technique is an age-old somatic practice that helps people feel more secure when their energy feels flighty. It can be done with yourself whenever you are anxious or become triggered. Or, it can be done with others when they become anxious. It can also be used between healthcare provider and patient or with family members and the patient.
A calm, centered person’s energy usually resides low and deep within themselves. Anxious energy, on the other hand, usually rises. You have experienced this yourself, possibly without even realizing it. Think about what happens when you get anxious. Your voice usually gets higher; energy gets flighty. If you just received bad news, you might even gasp and grab your chest near your throat with an open palm,
trying to anchor yourself. Opus Peace simply uses this gesture
We cal it the "Anchoring Heart Technique." It is a simple, yet powerful, technique to stay grounded in your own body. The hard part is remembering to do it when you feel uncomfortable feelings you prefer to disconnect from.
There are 3 steps to the Anchoring Heart Technique:
Anchor the Heart & Breathe deeply
Feel whatever uncomfortable feeling that you are experiencing (re-own)
Be curious about the place insdie that is NOT afraid of emotional pain (re-home)
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 whaver the circumstance might dictate.
You 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 where placing your hand on their heart would be too intimate or too invasive.
Teaching Others about
the Anchoring Heart Technique
Ralph Ozmun was the Volunteer Coordinator at Smoky Mountain Home Health & Hospice. After learning about the Anchoring Heart Technique at a Soul Injury conference, he went back to his agency and provided an inservice on it. Here is what he writes about what happened after the inservice:
"The next day one of our nurses and her assistant went out to change the wound dressing on a patient. As the patient became combative the, aide said to the nurse, "Let’s try that anchoring heart thing, Ralph told us about yesterday.” The nurse placed her hand firmly, but tenderly, on the patien't’ heart, speaking his name she softly said, “breathe, breathe,” The patient immediately calmed down and allowed them to change his wound dressing without further incident.
A few days later, another nurse at Smoky Mountain, Debbie, happened to be in the waiting room of our local hospital emergency department and witnessed an elderly woman in hysterics as the ambulance personnel were wheeling her in the entrance. Debbie walked up to them and asked, “Do you mind if I try something I just learned about”? With permission, she knelt down, placed her hand firmly but tenderly on the woman’s heart and softly said, "Breathe, breathe." The woman’s frantic behavior calmed almost instantly. Even her countenance had changed; the look of wide-eyed panic had been replaced with an accepting calmness.
As you can imagine, the ambulance personnel, as well as those in the waiting room, were amazed by what they had just witnessed, and asked Debbie “What did you just do”? Nurse Debbie taught the Anchoring Heart Technique to everyone in the waiting room, some of the emergency room staff, and the ambulance personnel.
A few days later, Debbie was asked by a doctor's office to come explain Hospice services. During the inservice, the office staff was telling Debbie what a bad day they were having. Some related how even before arriving at work, frustrating and stressful events had occurred. The more the staff talked, the more evident it became to Debbie that they needed a moment of self compassion. So, she led them through the 3 steps of the Anchoring Heart Technique. When they finished, the staff remarked with almost disbelief, how much lighter they felt, as if a weight or burden had been lifted.
At the next doctor's office she called on, Debbie related what had happened at the previous doctor’s office. That staff asked her to lead them through the Anchoring Heart Technique. When they had finished that staff also remarked how they felt, lighter and yet stronger.
Due to the response’s she received that day, Debbie asked the company’s marketing department to design a flyer describing the 3 steps to the Anchoring Heart Technique. The flyer was used as an educational tool during the month of February, which is "Heart Month”.