It has already been a few weeks ago that I organized a beautiful weekend retreat, together with Baptist de Pape, filmmaker and author of The Power of the Heart. We all celebrated the principle of Manifesting from the Heart. What I noticed during these days, is that all participants were very hungry to learn more about the scientific aspect of the heart-brain connection, and that they also loved to practice the tools and techniques that we shared – because they FELT the change!
Life is not happening to us. Life is responding to us.
The people I work with often remind me of how we as humans, can deeply suffer when we live at the mercy of our conditioned bodies. It’s important to understand that it’s not the events that happened in the past that keep hurting us, but it’s the chemical changes in our body as a result of these events that make us feel the way we feel, and experience life the way we currently experience it. So life (as we perceive it) is literally responding to us.
When we are trying to control the outer world (because we believe that life is happening to us), and therefore we are trying to control people’s behaviours, situations and things, we are living by the hormones of stress. We feel the need to constantly react to the outside world and we then become anxious, bitter, impatient, resentful, hurt, and so on.
From my work with the Institute of HeartMath, I also deeply understand the impact these negative emotions can have on our physical bodies, since we literally become less energy and more matter. The results can include, but are not limited to: headaches, dizziness, grinding teeth, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, weight gain, decreased sex drive, to just name a few.
Mind and Heart in Harmony
The biggest problem we have, is that we believe that we need a reason to be healthy. That we need a reason to be kind. That we need a reason for expressing gratitude and that we need a reason to feel love(d). We are so used to rely on our five senses, and to respond to our environment, that it feels unnatural for us to accept that we are innately whole and balanced. But when I tell people that the best thing we can do is to get out of our own way, I see them smile and nodding. We intuitively know this, yet our conditioned bodies have taken us onto a different path.
Everything you have been reading so far made sense to you because you process all that you read with your prefrontal cortex. One of the basic activities of this brain region is to make sense of life. This part of the brain works closely together with several other brain centres where our emotions and our subconscious beliefs are stored and accessed. But when we are not in balance, not living in the present moment, and when we are experiencing stress, our survival instincts take over and we’re back to square one.
Lasting Change – Heart Coherence
One of the most powerful ways to create lasting change in our lives, is to bring harmony between the mind, the heart and the autonomic nervous system. The recalibration of these 3 essential parts of our physical body, will restore our innate capacity to feel and to be whole again. You can read much more about this on my page about HeartMath, but for now, I want to offer you a FREE, 9 minute, powerful heart coherence meditation that I prepared for you together with my friend and musical master Brian T Collins.
The combined power of the words and music will not just help you to feel more whole and connected to your deeper self, but it will restore coherence between your systems, something your body is craving for – the mind and heart in harmony.
When you have received this article via your email subscription, you have also received a link to download the free heart coherence meditation. In case you don’t receive my emails yet, please sign up below and please send me a message and I will reply with a download link.
I also organize events and one-on-one trainings and coaching. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
When I found myself at the lowest place in my life, I experienced that connecting with a ‘higher intelligence’ gave my all the insights that I was longing for, and the light came back on again. This intelligent energy can be found in the heart.
The last couple of months have been so exciting and rewarding for me — I’ve not just hosted many events around the theme ‘The Power of the Heart’ but I have also been very active in training people the tools and techniques in order to help them self-regulate their emotions through optimizing the rhythm of the heart.
Our intelligent energy
You might have heard me speak about a very powerful principle, that I live by every day: “The moment you don’t want anything, is the moment you can have anything you want.” It’s so powerful, because this is the way the entire universe operates. But for us humans, it’s the hardest thing to apply because it feels so counterintuitive. We are raised with the belief that we have to DO something in order to get somewhere. That’s because we are not aware of one important element in the process — we are all connected to a highly intelligent field of information.
Humans are made of the stuff that everything else is made of in the universe. If we look at the human body and go down the scale we find cells, molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles and pure energy. The entire universe is made up of energy and at this level everything is vibrating. That’s also the reason why we are all connected and are living in a “thought universe” — An intangible world affects the tangible world of our experience. A spiritual world affects the physical world.
Although this might sound a bit complex to you right now, these scientific facts are of incredible value when it comes to reconnecting with yourself.
Another law of physics says: “Where the attention goes, is where the energy flows.” So when you take the time and start focusing on your body, truly feeling all sensations in the body, you begin to reconnect with yourself at the most intelligent level — you begin to access the universal level in you.
As a HeartMath® certified trainer, I help people to access the intuitive intelligence of the heart, and all experiments show that the less we try, the easier it is to get in touch with the universal energy that resides in us. It’s like becoming a flower in the sunshine. Do you think this flower tries really hard to start blooming, or that it would worry about the other flowers that could be potentially more beautiful? No, of course not! It just taps into the intelligent energy that it’s made up of and we look at it and say: “Wow, this flower looks so perfect!” And now you know its secret…
After a busy week of hosting beautiful events and personal coaching here in the Okanagan Valley, I can only be in awe about how these events fill me with gratitude. And this is only the beginning…
I meet people all the time. They’re busy living their lives. Managing their daily chores and simultaneously trying to find meaning, and sometimes working on overcoming old pains or even trauma. That’s quite a challenge, because we’re often stuck in old patterns. But we only have 24 hours a day to manage our activities.
When we feel overwhelmed with life, we have the tendency to just push through, and forget about what really bothers us, because we don’t know how to make lasting changes. But there’s a little voice inside, that wants to connect us with our true purpose. We listen sometimes, but it’s just too far out of our comfort zone to truly take the time, listen and act. So we choose to focus on something that makes us feel good — a bucket list for example, because we know that the clock is ticking, and at least we’re focused on some of our deeper desires.
What’s on your bucket list?
I bet that several exotic destinations are on it. And maybe skydiving? Or climbing a specific mountain? Driving that one car? Buying a dream home with a pool?
I have to admit something to you—I am boring. I don’t have a bucket list. I am so boring, that I even don’t know what I would change, if I were to win the lottery today.
I might be boring, but in general, I am very happy and grateful. I like to think of myself as a ‘happy kid’, because I still see myself as a little child. No, I don’t see myself like that, I really feel it.
Maybe it’s because life has taught me to be grateful for what I have – right now. I have known losses in my family, illness, insecurities and sadness. These events have taught me that there’s only one moment that you can be alive. That’s now!
My Reverse Bucket List
Being grateful for all of who I am, and for all that I have, made me think of a drawing up a reverse bucket list. It was so easy, and some of the experiences that came up are these:
– Travelling in the Alps with my family when I was a little boy
– Riding my red (first) bike
– Making fires after school
– Sleepovers at my grandma’s
– Driving my first car — a red beetle
– Meeting my love at high school
– Traveling all over the world
– The decision to emigrate to Canada
– Realizing my childhood dream — becoming a ski patroller
– Unconditional friendships with so many amazing people
– Hiking the West Coast Trail
– Stroll the beaches, and surf on Maui
– Permanently living in nature
– Every day doing the things that I love to do
I feel myself glowing after writing down my reverse bucket list. It makes me realize that I am very grateful for all that I have experienced so far. You have probably read a lot about the health effects of gratitude. It has an enormous positive impact on our immune system for example.
But it’s often fairly easy to be grateful when things are going our way. Did you realize that expressing gratitude during challenging times is even more powerful and helps us transcend our limited self. We now begin to experience that the true purpose of life is much grander than our physical self and our personal desires. We feel that we came here on purpose and not just by accident. This is beautiful because we’re making a shift in our own pattern – from reacting to the circumstances in our life, to beginning to understand the true message that we’ve been given. It’s moving us from our head to our heart.
One of the most effective ways to make this shift is to start practicing HeartMath on a regular basis. By repatterining your hard wired internal processes a tremendous shift starts taking place. If you live in the Okanagan Valley you can join me for a 3-hour HeartMath class on April 29. I also train people HeartMath online.
I would love to stay in touch with you because I care about others’ wellbeing. Please leave any comments below or just privately contact me.
Understanding the mechanics of stress gives you the advantage of being more aware of and sensitive to your own level of stress and knowing when and how to take proactive steps. This increased awareness also helps you to better care for your family, friends and colleagues. Here are a few facts that many people are unaware of:
Fact #1 – Your body doesn’t care if it’s a big stress or a little one
The human body doesn’t make a difference between a BIG stress or a little one. Regardless of the significance, stress affects the body in predictable ways. A typical stress reaction, which most of us experience many times each day, begins with a cascade of 1,400 biochemical events in your body. If these reactions are left unchecked we age prematurely, our cognitive function is impaired, our energy is drained, and we are robbed of our effectiveness and clarity.
Fact #2 – Stress can make smart people do stupid things
Stress causes what brain researchers call “cortical inhibition.” The phenomenon of cortical inhibition helps to explain why smart people do dumb things. Simply said, stress inhibits a small part of your brain and you can’t function at your best. When we are in coherence – a state where we are cognitively sharp, emotionally calm, and we feel and think with enhanced clarity – the brain, heart and nervous system are working in harmony. This state of coherence facilitates our cognitive functioning – we are actually operating at peak performance mentally, emotionally and physically.
Fact #3 – People can become oblivious to their stress
We can be physiologically experiencing stress but be mentally numb to it because we’ve become so used to it. Some have become so adapted to the daily pressures, irritations and annoyances of life that it starts to seem normal. Yet the small stresses accumulate quickly and we may not realize how much they’re impairing our mental and emotional clarity and our overall health until it shows up as a bad decision, an overreaction or an unwanted diagnosis at the doctor’s office.
Fact #4 – We can control how we respond to stress
We don’t need to be victims to our own emotions, thoughts and attitudes. We can control how we respond to stress and we can become more sensitive to stressful situations and how they are affecting us before it manifests as a physical, mental or emotional complaint. There are simple, scientifically validated solutions to stress that empower people to rewire their own stress response.
60% to 80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help.
Fact #5 – The best strategy is to handle stress in the moment
The best way to manage stress is to deal with it the very moment you feel it come up. Millions of North Americans unsuccessfully use the ‘binge-and-purge’ approach when it comes to stress. They stress out all day, believing that they can wait until later to recover when they go to an evening yoga class, go to the gym or chill out when they take the weekend off. Unfortunately, when we put off going for our own inner balance our bodies have already activated the stress response and it’s our health that suffers.
If you’re interested to learn more about how you can effectively manage and reduce stress in your own life, you might want to have a look at my page about HeartMath or check out my upcoming HeartMath workshop here.
For thousands of years, we as humans have tried to understand an extremely powerful force. It is a universal energy which even science can’t formally explain.
This universal energy is Love.
Love is the force behind all life and Love gives meaning to life. Maybe therefore, we often fail to understand what Love exactly means, just because it’s too grand for us to conceptualize.
I am not the only person who is fascinated by the power of Love and I think of it like this – Everything that is being created in the universe is Love, and is created through the energy of Love.
“Love will find its way through all languages.” – Rumi (13th century)
We, as human beings, are truly hungry for loving kindness and compassion. This is a Love which is not limited to one’s parents, spouse, children and relatives. It’s a Love that has the capacity to bring happiness to one another. It is also the Love which has the capacity to remove another’s suffering. Yes, to open your heart and to be fully present, for yourself and others, can be scary. It requires courage and being vulnerable, and vulnerability is often seen as a weakness in our society (especially with men).
After some devastating losses in my family I had just one way to heal myself – I chose Love, and I initiated Soul Love, a platform for which I started interviewing and sharing messages from the most inspiring authors, scientists, spiritual teachers and musicians. The one question that was often discussed:
“What does Love mean to you?”
I hope you will enjoy reading their answers:
I see Love as the energy that comprises everything and I see it as the most powerful energy in the Universe. ~ India.Arie
You are just pure essence, pure Love. When you can see somebody for their essence and not for their layers and layers of conditioning… that’s Love! ~ Anita Moorjani
Love feels like peace to me – reciprocity the willingness to show up in a relationship. Less and less judgement that I have towards myself and others, the openness. It’s all part of Love. ~ Lilou Macé
Love to me is the complete abrogation of the self, the loss of the self, utterly and totally and completely. ~ Neale Donald Walsch
The way I experience and feel Love is related to safety, security and being myself at every level. I experience the deepest feeling of security when I feel connected with the Creator, the Source. ~ Tijn Touber
We are not connecting with Love – we are Love, just like we are not living life – we are life. Love is our essential being. ~ Mooji
Love is an action, not a thought. It’s a series of actions and choices that honour respect, appreciate and uplift who you are. ~ Sonia Choquette
I hope there will be days for you, where you fall in love with just being alive.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend of mine about bringing out the child in us. We joked and pretended that we were young children again. There were lots of “what if….” and “just pretend that…”, but then I was being confronted with a huge surprise. “Thank you so much Dirk”, she told me after a while. “For what?” I asked. “For reviving me, and bringing out the child in me again. I am in awe.”
The child in you is always alive
Although my friend somehow knew that this little child was not completely forgotten, she could have never envisioned that it could be coming alive so quickly though. It took her completely off guard and woke her up, from years and years of being in some kind of sleepy state. Not feeling fully alive. Not feeling playful and light. This seriousness and sense of responsibility had crept into her life over the years, without even realizing it. But by being playful, something was triggered inside her—her inner child woke up!
From personal experience, I know that many grownups prefer to ignore to listen to the child within them. Many of us often feel that it’s childish to think that way: “What can a child offer us?” But they forget that this child is who they really are. This child once was in awe when watching the first snow flakes coming down. This same child loved to play outside all day long. Wasn’t hungry when mum called for dinner and wasn’t tired during the 3-day school trip. We were fully alive!
So what has happened then?
We are expected to grow up. School suddenly becomes more serious, and high marks make our teachers and parents happy. We apply for admission to a respected university. Mostly, not because it’s our passion, but because our parents think this is the best choice to secure a good future career. Do I need to go on? You get it, right?
I will share a secret with you that I kept completely to myself up to a year ago or so. When I was fourteen and in high school, I had to choose the subjects I wanted to focus on. I had no clue what I wanted to do after school, I was only fourteen. My dad was getting concerned and had me sign up for a career test. I was not motivated at the time, but went through almost a full day of psychological tests. The end-result was not very helpful to me – I could listen well and I was very creative, and some career options were being presented. I was not impressed. But about a month or so later, I found the official test results somewhere on my dad’s desk and started reading. I was in shock! They basically concluded that I wasn’t very smart and they found it hard to come up with a good advise for Dirk.
I had always been a happy kid and I was doing pretty well at school, but reading this report changed my life for the next twenty years. I started believing that I was stupid and school became a struggle. At some point, I felt so bad about it that I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid. About twenty years later, I was working as a CEO for American Express. I had built an amazing career and was very successful in what I did. But I wasn’t happy… I just wanted to prove to myself and to my family that I wasn’t stupid. How sad.
When you become disconnected from your heart, you’re not living. But when you’re connected to your heart, you become like a child. You’re a spark of divine energy. I can tell you, that I am deeply connected to my heart now, and I am very grateful for this traumatic experience. It was my teacher!
The medieval mystic Mechthild von Magdeburg said it beautifully: “A fish cannot drown in water, and a bird does not fall from the sky. Each creature must find its God given element.”
I was therefore touched by Paulo Coelho’s words in the movie The Power of The Heart – The child says: “Hello I am here.” But we are grown up now and not going to listen to this child, because this child has childish dreams, and so we forget the child. The moment we forget the child, we think that the child is going to forget us. But the child is not going to forget us. This child will always be here and says again: “Hello, I am here. I am talking to you. Can you listen?” You will then say: “Shut up, I don’t want to listen to you.”
But the day that you’re facing death, this child will be there again, and will ask you: “Why didn’t you listen to me?” You then have to answer. And your answer will be your hell, or your heaven.
3 simple ways to connect with the child in you
It would be easy for me to tell you just to do fun stuff. Things that you are really passionate about. Although that is definitely important, I believe there’s something more to this. Below are three simple ways of teaching yourself to connect with the child in you.
1. Becoming aware of now
Science shows us that we are pure energy systems. We are for over 99% energy and the remaining 1% is matter. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? So if we are virtually pure energy, we need to make sure that we tap into this energy, if we want to connect to our deepest self, our soul, the child in you. There’s a law in science that says: “Where the attention goes, is where the energy flows.” So, in stead of always being focused on everything outside of you, which will cause you to disconnect you from yourself, start becoming aware of what you are doing in this very moment — feel what you feel right now, become aware of the flavours of the food you put into your mouth, truly enjoy the sounds of the instruments and voice when you listen to your favourite music and take in all the beautiful elements of nature when you go outside. And when thoughts do come up, just ignore them and ask yourself: “What is it that I feel right now?”
You’ll start noticing that the many thoughts that go through your head on a continuous basis, won’t be so intense anymore. You literally start creating space in between all of your thoughts, and it’s exactly in that void, between your thoughts, where your creativity (your inner child) can be accessed.
2. A picture of you
One of my favourite things to do is to grab an old picture from when I was 4, 5 or 6 years old. Then, just sit down at a place where you won’t be disturbed, and just look at this picture. Can you still feel how you felt at that moment? Excited, silly, happy, curious? What did your days look like? What kind of fantasies and dreams did you have? What did you like the most? Whatever comes up, and without thinking or using any judgements, write this down on a piece of paper. Now just look at yourself, sitting in the chair, 20, 30 or 40-something years later. You’re still this same child. Your body might have changed, and you might have accumulated more experiences, but this little child, with exciting dreams and passions is still there.
3. Heart focused breathing
This is the most powerful step – the heart focused breathing. The healing power of breath has been used over thousands of years already, but seems almost insignificant in our fast paced life with continuous, external stimuli. In this exercise, you will shift your attention (and therefore your energy) to your heart, energetically the most powerful organ in your body.
STEP 1: Focus your attention in the area of your heart. Feel your breath flowing in and out through your lungs, and just breathe a little slower than you normally would.
STEP 2: With each breath, draw in the feelings from your childhood memories and feel them in your heart while breathing.
STEP 3: Set a genuine intent to anchor these memories throughout your day, and use them while working on new ideas and projects.
Please let me know how much fun you had in trying the exercises, and how it changed your perception on your current life. I would love to hear from you. Feel free to follow me on Facebook or on Twitter.