Massage + Bodywork
February is Heart Awareness Month and tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It's a great time to give your heart a little extra love. Our energetic hearts are influenced by our physical heart's health and vice versa. Many of the practices that are being suggesting are ones that I have picked up and/or adapted for myself over the last couple years.
Rose oil can be applied to your chest (or whole body) daily for some nice heart support and boundary medicine. According to my herbal teacher, Jessie Belden, rose can help our hearts to be open and receptive while also staying protected from encroachment. You can see this in the rose itself as a beautiful open flower which has grown thorns along it's stem for protection.
You can make a simple solar infused rose oil by filling a jar with rose buds (about 3/4 of the way full) and then filling the rest of the jar with oil (jojoba, almond, olive and/or grapeseed oil are great). Make sure that the rose buds are fully covered by 1-2 inches of oil at the top. Seal the jar and let in sit on a windowsill for 2-4 weeks. The sun will warm the oil and help it to infuse with the rose buds. Shake the oil every day and give it a little love. After the 2-4 weeks, strain the rosebuds out. I like to keep my rose oil in the refrigerator and take a small portion out for using so that it stays preserved longer.
You could also buy a rose infused oil, rose lotion or add a drop of rose essential oil to your daily lotion.
Focused breathing for the heart
In Chinese Medicine, the Heart organ system is deeply connected to all of the emotions of the body. Specifically, the Heart organ system is connected to the Spirit and the emotions of joy and love when in balance. When unbalanced we can tend towards hatred or cruelty.
A simple way to nourish the Heart organ system is to do this simple breathing technique adapted from Chi Nei Tsang and the Taoist tradition. Find a comfortable sitting or lying down position. Close your eyes and focus your attention at your heart. Feel what the space around your heart. It may feel constricted or tight. It may feel open and expansive or somewhere in between. When you breath out imagine breathing out any hatred or cruelty that is accumulating around your heart. When you breath in, imagine a red nourishing light full of love and joy filling the space. As you breath you can repeat the mantra, "I breath out hatred and cruelty and breath in love and joy." You can take as many breaths as you need to start feeling openness in the area. At the end, sit for a couple breaths and feel the heart area full of warm, red light and a feeling of love and joy.
Heart nourishing tea blend
Some of my favorite herbs for the heart are linden, hawthorn and rose. You can make your own simple heart nourishing tea by mixing 3 parts linden flower and leaf, 1 part hawthorn flower and leaf and 1 part rose buds.* Mix all the herbs together so they are evenly distributed and store in an airtight container. To brew the tea, infuse one teaspoon of the mixture in a tea ball or strainer with 8 oz of hot water. Steep for 10-15 minutes and drink.
*A "part" can be any quantity. For example, if you wanted to make a small batch of the herbal tea you could use 1 oz as a part. The recipe would be 3 oz linden flower and leaf, 1 oz hawthorn leaf, and 1 oz rose buds. I recommend using hawthorn leaf instead of hawthorn berries. Berries are denser plant matter and need a longer process to extract the herbal medicinal properties. A great place to buy bulk herbs is at The Medicine Tree in Minneapolis.
This is my favorite stone for the heart. It's said to be the Stone of Unconditional Love and is a gentle pink color. It can be used for healing the heart, increasing compassion and appreciation for ourselves and loved ones. You've probably noticed that I keep some in my room at Wellness Minneapolis. I like to think that they infuse the space with these properties as we work on your bodywork goals. You can buy small bits of Rose Quartz at a local rock shop like The Enchanted Rock Garden and keep them in your pocket. Necklaces with Rose Quartz are excellent as they keep the stone close to your heart.
Hope you find these heart nourishing tips fun and simple. May your hearts be happy and healthy.
Amy Daws is a trained Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, Chi Nei Tsang and Craniosacral therapist. She is a nerd at heart and loves sharing what she is learning about with her clients.