Exploring Mind-Body-Spirit Modalities for Healing Heartbreak
Forget the ice cream… go for oxygen and chi!
You don’t have to be the Sufi poet Rumi, who famously described the ecstatic highs and lows of spiritual love, to understand that there is something downright divine about falling in love. As humans, we are bound by the physical realm, yet that spark of love, a force that has inspired countless creative musings across the history of humankind, brings a bond and connection hinting at the other-worldly. Many believe that it comes from the soul, somewhere atemporal, eternal, or cosmic in origins.
As love is felt transcendentally across body, mind, and spirit, perhaps this is why heartbreak — the loss of love — is one of the most universally humbling experiences that we endure as humans; igniting the mind-body-spirit connection, but in a cacophony of grief. “When we experience heartbreak, this type of wound can have the same effect on the mind and nervous system as a physical break,” says Erika Polsinelli, a Kundalini breathwork instructor and the founder of Evolve by Erika. Mental anguish — longing, regret, anger, denial, bargaining, et al. — comes with physical symptoms, which can range from weight loss or gain, to actual aches in the chest, insomnia, crying, anxiety, and more. Some call their faith and their intuition into question, so devastating is the severance from what felt “meant to be.”
The hardest part is that there is no guidebook to moving forward. Pop culture depicts the stereotypical breakup toolkit consisting of pints of ice cream, tears, down comforters, and phone calls to friends… But what if you could consciously rē•spin the way you mend your broken hearts, easing the process? Mind-body modalities like acupuncture, breathwork, and meditation, might be able to help you through the trauma of heartbreak.
Acupuncture & Heartbreak: The Heart Meridian
The brain doesn’t know the difference between physical and mental trauma, and the nervous system takes a major hit from the onset of loss; mind-body modalities, which can help to induce the relaxation response (i.e., parasympathetic activity), can offset the somatic stress in the body — even though it is initiated by emotional means — interrupting the self-perpetuating stress process. “The practice of acupuncture uses two basic techniques; the insertion of very fine needles, and the application of heat, known as moxibustion, to regulate the flow of subtle energy along specific points along the body’s meridians or channels,” explains Tia Trivisonno, ND, LAc, MSOM, of Rejuvenation Health. You might already know that the placement of these tiny needles does not hurt over the course of your 45- to 60-minute session. Yet these minute tweaks to the flow of chi, or life force energy, brings deep relaxation, a sense of timelessness, and restores the nervous system’s balance, helping to alleviate physical ailments of all kinds.
When it comes to heartbreak, Trivisonno directs our attention to the meridians relating to the heart, as each set of acupuncture points correspond to an organ in the body. “The heart meridian is comprised of nine points … that travel along the arm, ending at the tip of the little finger. A deeper pathway connects the tissue of the heart itself to the diaphragm, and the small intestines below the abdomen,” she continues. Energy teachings consider the heart chakra to be the gateway between the lower and the higher chakras; a bridge between the higher and lower levels of consciousness, referencing the inherent duality through which we experience life.
One acupuncture point in particular — Heart 7, also known as the Spirit Gate — thus taps into the interdimensional nature of heartbreak by harnessing the mind-body-spirit connection. “For healing from trauma such as heartbreak, specific points on the heart and pericardium channels can be used to restore balance from feelings of anxiety, grief, isolation, and vulnerability,” Trivisonno explains. “Heart 7 is useful for symptoms associated with heartbreak: anxiety, insomnia, and poor appetite. On a physical level, the point is useful to open the chest and reduce palpitations and discomfort while calming the mind and promoting a return to a more natural state of peace and happiness.”
Breathwork & Heartbreak: A Meditation to Heal A Broken Heart
Breathwork has grown in popularity in recent years and is appealing in that it can be practiced from home. “We can use breathwork, Kundalini yoga, and meditation, in particular, to heal the emotional wound [of heartbreak] in the body,” says Polsinelli. “We must tap into the nervous system, calm it, and send healing to that space. By using breathwork, we are able to process the emotions we are holding and move that energy instead of it becoming stagnant.” She explains that failing to process and heal emotional wounds causes unconscious, self-defeating, rē-actionary behaviors based on the conditioning of past wounds, rather than allowing us to access conscious, intentional behaviors. Practicing breathwork thus helps to process emotional wounds and clear the blocks that might otherwise cause you to repeat harmful behaviors.
Kundalini breathwork, which refers to the divine creative energy of spiritual awakening that rises through the chakras, uses kriyas — a combination of breathing and postures — to aid in this integration of emotional and subtle energy. Polsinelli reveals that there is actually a specific practice for heartbreak called A Meditation to Heal A Broken Heart that is used to calm the nervous system and adjust the heart meridian. “Sit in a comfortable seated position with a straight spine,” she begins. “Place your palms together in prayer pose, bring the hands up so that they can comfortably rest in the space between your eyebrows, and tilt your head forward to gently rest your forehead upon your middle finger. Remain in this posture as you consciously breathe. Continue until you feel calm and centered.”
If you’re going through a breakup, you are certainly not alone. But the next time you’re searching for relief, consider looking into a mind-body wellness modality to address grief’s myriad manifestations in the mind, body, and spirit. (Your ice cream and favorite rom-com will still be there when you’ve finished.)