THE BLOG
04/03/2013 08:28 am ET Updated Jun 03, 2013

Manage Pain and Stress With Heart-Centered Meditation

I dislike going to the dentist, because I am incredibly sensitive to dental pain. At a recent dental visit, the dentist suggested I take some laughing gas, the colloquial term for nitrous oxide. "Laughing gas?" I repeated. The thought of it made me laugh. The dentist laughed as well, then said, "I have it in my bedroom. It does wonders." As I tried to imagine exactly what that meant, I decided to try the laughing gas. Theoretically, it not only provides pain control but also elevates emotional states, to the extent that it makes one laugh. I certainly would love to laugh, or at least smile, while sitting in a dental chair!

Unfortunately, I did not laugh once. I did, however, feel pain, so I reverted to my own familiar method of controlling pain and otherwise coping with stressful experiences: As I sat in the dental chair, I began deep abdominal breathing through the nose. I also rested my hands on my abdomen, instead of on the dental chair arm rests, to create a feedback system assuring a deepened and focused breathing pattern. I am proud to say that I was able to sit in the chair and go through the procedure of an implant repair using this simple meditation technique. Doing so made me feel invincible!

Whatever stressful situation you may be facing, this technique can help you as well. It is rooted in Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM), which was developed by the Institute for Applied Meditation of the Heart (I AM Heart). Find a quiet place. Make sure you will not be disturbed for five or 10 minutes, and take these five steps:

Step One
Sit in a comfortable chair with your spine upright and with your palms on your abdomen. You want to sit upright because energy travels along the spine. You want your palms on your abdomen, because by not only paying attention to the breath but by also feeling the in-out motion of the breath with your hands, you will keep engage your mind -- keeping it focused on your meditation practice.

Step Two
Make your breath conscious. Breathe through your nose, with complete awareness of your inhalation and exhalation. Breathing through the nose creates nitric oxide, which has health benefits such as oxygenating the blood. Let your breath be the focus, not your thoughts or images. If you have mind chatter or if you are distracted by noises, simply come back to your breath.

Step Three:
Make your breath complete, with the assistance of your abdominal muscles. Inhale completely and balloon your abdomen out, then exhale and squeeze your abdomen toward your spine. Repeat this cycle 10 times.

Step Four:
Connect your breath with your heart: Put your right hand on your heart and consciously feel your breath moving through your heart.

Step Five:
Using the rhythm of your heartbeat or pulse, whichever is easier for you to find, inhale and exhale the same count in and out -- whether four, six, or eight beats. Repeat this practice 10 times.

Whatever circumstances are going on in the outer world, outside your control, you always have the power to create a peaceful and harmonious inner world. So whether you are in the dental chair, an office chair, or a chair at the kitchen table, be sure to take a few minutes out of your day to practice this technique. It can make all the difference in how you see your circumstances and walk through your life.

And you are worth it.

For more by Susanna Bair, click here.

For more on stress, click here.