CONTEMPLATION on FLOWING
In 2011 as part of our 5Rhythms Teacher Training we had to explore one Rhythm. Here's my contemplation about Flowing, how I support heartpatients with the 5Rhythms and focus on the Rhythm of Flowing.
It's a long story, so make yourself a cup of tea, sit down, relax and enjoy ♡
Introduction on Flowing
To me Flowing is about earth, nature, grounding, fluidity, taking care off, following, nurture. I see all of these themes in my daily life; Feeling my resistance to come out of bed.. Getting up, supporting my children to school. Taking care of my self and go to work. Feeding myself. Driving in my car to work, fluidly, passing other cars, round abouts. Walking on constant tempo in corridors at work. Moving my head, shoulders, arms while walking. Relaxing in walking, breathing in and out. Following my feet.
Working with heartpatients, I like to contemplate Flowing on heart matters.
To describe the working of our hearts, as I explain every day and day again our heartfunction to heartpatients.
Our beating hearts as food for our movements, our habits, our behaviours our emotions. I recognize my own feelings and emotions around the uncertainty of having heartproblems, or not having heartproblems. Last months I’ve had moments of pain in my chest, like heartpatients have.
My basic rhythm is Flowing. I wake up without any chestpain, starting my working day I feel ‘flowing’: driving to work, walking down the corridor, heading towards my office.
In my head some Flowing Staccato comes up, making plans for the day. Working, talking, taking medical exams, taking care of heartpatients. Giving short answers to my collegeaus questions..
Than chest pain comes up. Hearing the stories of people having heart problems, recognizing my chestpain in their stories. Starting to worry. Asking the cardiologist for medical exeminations on me. Meanwhile still supporting heartpatients.
Spinning phrases in my head: ‘I’m having heartproblems!’
Flowing Chaos. Trying to keep my head above the water, still working.
Hearing my test results: ‘My heart is on the right side in my chest, in stead of left..!’
More thoughts, more anxiety, restless, loosing focus on work.
Further medical exams on me show my arteries; They are located the other way round, but all is functioning well. .. Pause ..
I’m feeling relieved, and at the same time feeling my tears. Hidden for all those years. All these years I have been trying to really connect with my heart, to really feel my heart. I allways had the feeling I didn’t succeed. And now I found my heart! Lyrical Flowing. Working, feeling relieved, supporting heartpatients for me on a deeper level. Understanding them even more. Finally being able to connect with my heart. My real heart.
Still Flowing, knowing how the uncertainty feels around heartproblems. Calming down in my own heart and body. Still supporting heartpatients. Being able to connect even more.
To understand the function and fluidity of our hearts I would like to start with the basics of this amazing organ. How do our hearts function?
When we would slice our heart in a middle line from up to down, we see 4 compartments. Blood flows from our heads, arms, belly, legs and organs into the Right Atrium (RA). Via the tricuspidalis valve the blood flows into the Right Ventricel (RV). The RV pumps the blood into the pulmunales artery, where in the longs blood will be oxygenated (O2). From the lungs the O2blood flows into the Left Atrium (LA). From the LA the O2blood flows via the mitralis valve into the Left Ventricel (LV). The LV pumps the O2blood into the Aorta to the organs.
The ventricels pump blood into the pulmonalis artery and aorta. When the ventricels relax, the aorta valve and pulmonalis valve close, the blood flows back downwards a bit, as result of a vacuum. Imagine no valves would have been there, the blood would flow back into the ventricels. Just above the Aorta valve, the 2 main coronairy arteries evolve. In this relaxation moment the blood flows from the aorta into the coronairy arteries: The heart muscle itself gets her oxygen. 3 Main arteries give oxygen to the heart: Right Coronairy Arteria (RCA), Left Arteria Descendent (LAD) and the Left Circumflex Arteria(LCA).
The heartrate is activated by the sinus node in the right atrium. From there the activition flows to the atrio-ventricel node, on the crosspoint of the Atria and Ventricels. From there the energy spreads over the ventricels by the His bundle. By this activation both ventricels are able to pump. The ventrikels pump stronger than the bloodpressure. The bloodpressure in the lungs is low, in the aorta it’s much higher. Normally around 130/80 mmHg. Knowing this; when you suffer from a high blood pressure, your left ventricel needs to pump harder to give oxygen to your organs.
Going back to the arteries. When one artery is narrow, the blood won’t flow easily to feed the heartmuscle with oxygen. ‘Chest pain’ will occur. When this artery becomes more occluded a big lack of oxygen will cause a heartattack. A part of the heartmuscle won’t be able to pump in that moment. The heart and body need oxygen. The heart will automatically pump faster to serve all organs with oxygen: Heartrate rises. Because of dying cells in the heartmuscle, heartrhythm problems may be following. Some small, some severe, some leading to death.
Yes, our heart is an amazing organ.
She pumps automatically, she accelerates when we are in a hurry, and she slows down when we relax. She warns us when we feel fear, by means of beating faster. When we hold our breath our heartrate slows down. When we are tensed our heartrate speeds up a little.
Our heart is amazingly connected with our cells, our hormones, our emotions, our way of being.
Our blood is constantly flowing from our organs into our heart, ready to let go of carbon dioxide, to take in oxygen. With every breath to feed our cells with oxygen, to purify our body.
During the years of my work with heartpatients I’ve learned about their lifestyles, the issues they’ve dealed with and the probable causes of becoming a heartpatient.
The general issue is having a lack of time to do everything they want.
Many heartpatients are perfectionist. Combine a lack of time with perfectionism: Stress!
This is the perfect base to become a heartpatient. When there is underlaying familar heart- and/or arteriadiseases, high bloodpressure, high cholesterol, diabetic, moving little, sleeping problems .. the risk for getting heartproblems is big.
Most heartpatients have to learn how to mother themselves again.
How to pace, to reconnect with their body, to learn about their body language.
This is where I support them. To mirror them their life style. To look with them for small changes in lifestyle, with bigger results.
In teaching the 5Rhythms I use the bodyparts to start the sessions and to end the sessions with, to make them aware of changes in their bodies, muscles etc.
Starting with flowing I intergrate bodyparts. The whole session is based on flowing, with different layers of flowing. To regain energy, to ground, to breathe into their bodies. To follow their own movements, to soften their movements. To follow their feet, trusting every step they make, to learn to relax while moving.
Our heart beats. With every beat he pumps the blood from the ventricels into our lungs and body. Here you see the natural combination of Flowing and Staccato. Blood flows constantly into the right Atrium. And blood flows from the lungs into the left Atrium. During this constant flowing activity the heart pumps blood into the lungs and Aorta to all cells of our body.
The blood filled with oxygen flows with a beat through our arteries. In our veins the blood full of carbonate dioxine flows back to our heart because of muscle pressing. The valves in our veins prevent the blood from expanding in our feet/legs due to gravity.
Yes & No
The commun sentence from many heartpatient is ‘I don’t have time to do some sport. I’m too busy with work, grandchildren, other family’. ‘I’m supporting other people, I don’t have time to do things for myself.’
Here we can see the mismatch between flowing and staccato. Between being busy all the time, having too many goals to be reached in too little time and taking time for ourselves. Learning to say No to others and Yes to ourselves.
Coming out of flowing, connecting with their bodies, I introduce staccato elements. For exemple flowing feet, relaxed bodies that follow, turning to a ‘stop’. Bodyparts hand/elbows combined with feet or hips.
My purpose of these exercises is to awaken the feeling of having boundaries. To learn to recognise the feeling from our body and desires of our heart. To be able to listen if there’s a yes or a no underneath. To be able to give this yes or no a movement without loosing connection with our body and heart.
I notice heartpatients have many issues on being clear in saying ‘No’. I see this in their hands and arms, saying an unclear no. The no is mostly without breath, without intention. Not grounded at all. When I ask them to introduce their voice, to become clear in sound and movement, I meet a lot of resistance.
When the heartrate increases into a fast rhythm the capability of the ventricels to fully contract decreases. Working harder the heartmuscle needs more oxygen. When the rhythm is very high, the pauses in between each contraction is very short. In the pauses in between two contractions the heart gets his oxygen. When the pauses are small, there’s little time to oxigynate the heartmuscle. Chestpain will come up. Anxiety.
For healthy people a high heartrate is no big problem when the heart is able to calm down after a few minutes. For people with artery diseases a high heartrate can cause heartproblems. And the other way round, artery diseases can cause a faster heartrate.
When the heart has a severe lack of oxygen, a small or bigger heartattack will follow. Heartmuscle cells will die. Due to dead cells severe rhythm problems easily occur. Ventriceltachycardia may turn into ventricelfibrillation. Total chaos in heartrate, loss of bloodpressure, dying. Total chaos in people around this person, to defibrillate or even to reanimate.
Most people who feel their heart beats fast, become anxious and insecure. Because of their anxiety their bodies react even more nervous. With producing hormones, adrenaline etc.
In daily life I see people crossing their boundaries over and over again, including myself. Running from one appointment to the other. Loosing connection with their body, forgetting the ability to say yes or no.
Flowing Chaos exercises help my clients to stay grounded, to keep on following and trusting their feet. Staying in flowing helps them to release their body, to inhale and exhale naturally. Most heartpatients are 10-30 years older than I am. The chaos they show with their bodies is much softer, smaller and slower than mine. Some of them I see pacing in chaos, swaying softly from one foot to the other, shaking hands, legs. Letting go of tension. Most of them still with jaws closed, head in 1 position. I invite them to flow in a sloppy way, to stay relaxed in finding their edges. Edges in equilibrium of their body. Trusting their feet.
I notice them really making connection with their bodies, following their own movements.
Letting go in their own ways.
When a coronair artery is narrow we can give medicines to widen the coronair arteries. We can give medicines to lower the bloodpressure, so the heart doesn’t need to pump against a high pressure. The heart can relax more and the need of oxygen for himself lowers. We can open the artery with a percutane transluminal coronary artery procedure (PTCA), or we can bypass the artery.
In all cases the bloodflow will continue flowing with ease. This is particulary shown by radiograph during PTCA. Where you see the bloodflow stop, after PTCA you see the blodflow flow.
Most patients experience this moment as a big relieve. A moment full of emotions. Letting go of fear and tension, chestpain that becomes smaller and finally goes away. Feeling tears well up as a mixture of all kind of emotions. After bypass chirurgy most people feel greatfull for being able to live without pain, fear.
During the wave and different exercises I see my clients cheer up.
In exercises with repetition I see their hesitation, ‘you want us to do what??’ ending up in following their own movements.
One exercise I introduce after a few sessions, very playful: ‘playing tag’.
They move, suddenly being touched by somebody, they stop in that movement in that particular sculpture. Than they take a moment to feel how they stand still, they breathe in the sculpture and move further. This awakens awareness of space, awakens their body, the back and the front of their body, left and right side. The exercise stimulates creativity in reaction, staying grounded, following their body, recognition of repetative movements, reactions.
I’ve seen heartpatients smile from their hearts, as I never saw them smile like that before.
When the heart has survived the chaotic period of having a lack of oxygen. When the heart is reoxyginated, the heartrate will lower.Sometimes the heartrate shows spontaneus irregularity, ending itself as fast as it came up. Medicines will keep the heartrate lower than the normal rate, bloodpressure will be held lower. Mothering the heart as much as possible, to make the heart pump the blood with ease around.
For some people the time in between the first sign of a heartproblem and the last minute of being rescued passes very fast. In only 2-3 hours they’re rescued with a PTCA. Feeling good and alive again. For others this wave with their heart took much more time, weeks sometimes even months.
The time they need to settle down in their new heart circumstances changes from person to person, independent on the different heart issues.
Some people see this as ‘ok i’m fixed, I can go on the way I lived my life’ not willing to change. Others change their life totally, seeing their heartproblem as a warning, as a new chance.
After having moved through the wave I invite my clients to keep on flowing, smaller or bigger just in the way how they feel. What feels right for them in that moment. To follow what ever movement comes up. Trusting their feet and body. A big calm comes over the group.
I see repetative movements, relaxed bodies, soft eyes.
Ending with integrating the body parts. Body parts again, to become aware of the differences in their muscles. Feeling the different tissues of their body.
After every session the energy feels lighter. Their faces have changed.
During the weeks that my clients have moved with me through the 5Rhythms I see changes in their bodies. Some small, some bigger. One woman softens in her precense, looking more comfortable in her own body.
Her beautiful feedback: ‘I changed my daily life; I used to have a daily programme, breakfast at this time, lunch and dinner at that time, teatime etc. Now I feel how I feel, and than decide if I would like some lunch at the ‘fixed time’ or not!’
An other woman is heartpatient and suffering from the last stage in having cancer. After the last session she told me the neckpain she had from x-ray treatment was gone after having moved through the bodyparts and wave.