top of page

Cultivating Inner Harmony: 5 Therapeutic Heart Opening Practices

In the fast-paced rhythm of our daily lives, it's all too easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of stress and forget to tend to our emotional well-being. Our hearts, the guardians of our deepest emotions, often bear the weight of this neglect. But just as a flower needs sunlight to bloom, our hearts too require tender care to flourish into their fullest potential. In this blog post, we'll explore five simple yet profoundly therapeutic practices to help you open your heart and invite more peace and harmony into your life.

1. Heart Opening Gratitude:

Gratitude is a powerful force that can transform even the darkest of days into moments of light. Taking a few moments each day to reflect on the blessings in your life and jot them down in a gratitude journal can have a profound effect on your heart. Whether it's a warm cup of tea in the morning or the smile of a loved one, acknowledging the abundance around you shifts your focus from scarcity to abundance, creating a more open and receptive heart space.

Research studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal can lead to increased feelings of happiness and well-being. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that participants who wrote about things they were grateful for reported higher levels of optimism and positive mood compared to those who focused on daily hassles.

2. Heart-Centered Breathing:

Our breath is the bridge between our body and mind, and practicing heart-centered breathing can help us reconnect with the wisdom of our hearts. Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably, close your eyes, and place your hand over your heart. As you inhale deeply, visualize breathing in love, compassion, and acceptance into your heart. With each exhale, release any tension or negativity stored in your heart space. Repeat this practice for a few minutes, allowing each breath to soften and open your heart to the beauty of the present moment.

Yoga, meditation, heart-opening
Heart-Centered Breathing & Meditation

Heart-focused breathing techniques, such as those used in heart-centered meditation, have been shown to reduce stress and promote emotional well-being. According to research conducted by the HeartMath Institute, practices that involve intentionally shifting focus to the heart and breathing rhythmically can help regulate heart rate variability, leading to a state of coherence associated with emotional stability and resilience.

3. Loving-Kindness Meditation:

Loving-kindness meditation, also known as "Metta" meditation, is a practice rooted in ancient Buddhist traditions. It involves directing feelings of love and kindness towards yourself and others, ultimately cultivating a sense of universal love and compassion. Begin by silently repeating phrases such as "May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be at peace." Then, extend these wishes to loved ones, acquaintances, and even those you may have difficulty with. As you nurture feelings of goodwill towards all beings, you dissolve barriers and foster a deeper sense of connection and compassion within your heart.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of loving-kindness meditation for mental health and well-being. Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that participants who engaged in loving-kindness meditation experienced increases in positive emotions such as love, joy, and gratitude, as well as reductions in negative emotions like anger and anxiety.

4. Heart-Opening Yoga Poses:

Yoga offers a beautiful opportunity to connect with our bodies and hearts through movement and breath. Incorporating heart-opening yoga poses into your practice can help stretch and energize the chest and heart area, creating space for love and compassion to flow freely. Poses such as Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), and Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) are particularly effective in opening the heart center. Remember to move mindfully and honor your body's limits as you explore these poses, allowing your heart to guide you towards greater openness and expansion.

Yoga pose
Heart Opening: Cobra Pose

Yoga has been widely recognized for its positive effects on both physical and mental health. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that practicing yoga, particularly poses that open the chest and heart area, was associated with improvements in mood, stress reduction, and overall quality of life.

5. Acts of Kindness:

There's a special kind of magic in the act of giving without expecting anything in return. Engaging in acts of kindness towards others not only brings joy to those around us but also nourishes our own hearts in the process. Whether it's a simple gesture like holding the door for someone or volunteering your time for a cause you believe in, these acts of generosity create ripples of positivity that extend far beyond ourselves. As you spread kindness, you create opportunities for your heart to expand and overflow with love, deepening your connection to yourself and the world around you.

The act of giving has been linked to numerous psychological and physiological benefits. Research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine suggests that performing acts of kindness activates areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, leading to an increase in levels of oxytocin, the "love hormone," which promotes feelings of connection and well-being.

Integrating Heart-Opening Practices into Psychotherapy:

Integrating therapeutic heart-opening practices into psychotherapy can deepen the therapeutic process and enhance the client's overall well-being. Therapists can incorporate these practices into their sessions in various ways, depending on the client's needs and therapeutic approach.
Heart Opening Practices

One approach is to introduce these practices as homework assignments between sessions. For example, the therapist may encourage the client to start a gratitude journal and reflect on their entries during therapy sessions. This allows the client to explore and process their experiences with the therapist, fostering deeper insight and emotional growth.

During therapy sessions, therapists can also guide clients through heart-centered breathing exercises or loving-kindness meditation. These practices can help clients regulate their emotions, reduce anxiety, and develop self-compassion. By incorporating mindfulness-based techniques into therapy, therapists empower clients to cultivate a greater sense of presence and awareness, enabling them to navigate life's challenges with greater resilience.

In addition to individual therapy sessions, therapists may also incorporate heart-opening practices into group therapy settings. Group activities such as gratitude circles or partner yoga can foster a sense of connection and support among group members, creating a safe space for healing and growth.

Ultimately, integrating therapeutic heart-opening practices into psychotherapy offers clients a holistic approach to healing that addresses their emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs. By combining evidence-based therapeutic techniques with practices that nurture the heart, therapists can support clients in cultivating greater inner harmony and resilience on their journey towards healing and self-discovery.

Nurturing Open Hearts: Powerful Resources for Therapists and Clients:

For Therapists:

  1. "The Mindful Therapist" by Daniel J. Siegel: This book offers valuable insights and practical techniques for integrating mindfulness practices into therapy sessions, including exercises for cultivating compassion and presence.

  2. HeartMath Institute ( The HeartMath Institute offers research-based tools and techniques for stress reduction, emotional regulation, and improving heart coherence. Therapists can explore their resources and training programs to incorporate heart-centered approaches into their practice.

  3. "Yoga for Emotional Balance" by Bo Forbes: This book provides yoga-based practices specifically designed to support emotional well-being, including sequences for opening the heart and releasing tension stored in the body.

For Clients:

  1. "The Gratitude Diaries" by Janice Kaplan: This book offers personal anecdotes and scientific research on the transformative power of gratitude, inspiring readers to incorporate gratitude practices into their daily lives.

  2. Headspace App ( Headspace offers guided meditation sessions focused on cultivating mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude. Clients can explore their "Headspace for Focus" and "Headspace for Sleep" series for practices that support emotional balance and well-being.

  3. "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brené Brown: Brené Brown explores the importance of vulnerability, courage, and self-compassion in this book, offering readers practical tools for embracing authenticity and cultivating a wholehearted life.

These resources provide valuable tools and insights for therapists and clients alike, supporting them on their journey towards emotional healing and inner transformation.

In conclusion, incorporating these simple yet powerful practices into your daily routine can help you cultivate a deeper sense of inner harmony and well-being. By opening your heart to love, gratitude, and compassion, you not only enrich your own life but also contribute to the collective healing of the world around you. So take a moment today to nurture your heart and let its light shine brightly for all to see. After all, the world could always use a little more love.

With love, AGLOW

Stacy Ruse, LPC, RYI, EMDR & IFS Consultant

Stacy Ruse, LPC, RYI, is a highly regarded figure in the realm of mental health, boasting a rich tapestry of expertise and experience. As an Evergreen EMDR consultant, IFS-Institute consultant, and Registered Yoga Instructor, she stands at the forefront of innovative therapeutic practices. As the visionary founder of Aglow Counseling, Stacy cultivates a space where healing transcends the ordinary, embracing a therapeutic paradigm that blends the precision of EMDR, IFS, and Somatic therapies with a transpersonal twist.

At the heart of Stacy's methodology lies a holistic ethos that reveres the profound interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. Through her guidance, individuals are empowered to delve into the depths of their being, unlocking their innate resilience and embarking on a transformative journey of self-discovery. Her approach serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating pathways to personal growth that extend far beyond the confines of conventional therapy.

Widely recognized as a luminary in trauma recovery, Stacy's influence extends both nationally and internationally. As a revered trainer and clinical consultant, she imparts her wisdom with a compassionate commitment to trauma-informed care. Grounded in evidence-based methodologies, her work serves as a catalyst for healing, offering solace and support to those navigating the complexities of trauma. Through her dedication and expertise, Stacy Ruse emerges as a guiding light, guiding individuals towards a future imbued with healing, resilience, and profound transformation.


bottom of page