To make voluntary that which is normally involuntary is bringing conscious
control over areas of your body that are normally reflexive or automatically governed
by "subconscious" signals. If you can consciously exercise control over your
breathing, you can do the same with your heartbeat. Belief has little to do with the
process; practice alone is important! Laboratory investigations have shown that
muscle response, blood flow, skin temperature, brain waves, metabolism and blood
chemistry shift in the direction of a relaxed state during practice, and abnormal
conditions move slowly toward normalcy with continued practice. Actually, many
emotional problems are also relieved with autogenic training, and these techniques are
widely used in Europe to help people along these lines! You can get good at anything
with continued practice, so why not get good at consciously mastering control over
your autonomic bodily functions?
In the beginning, do this exercise lying down. Do the "warm-up" of "Exercise --
Achieving Autonomic Muscle Control (Limb Heaviness)," and then repeat the heavy
to warm formula 3 times. Now mentally bring your conscious awareness to your
heartbeat. Become aware of it in your chest or in the pulse of your wrist or
wherever. At first, resting your hand on your chest might help.
Now visualize an anxiety situation for yourself -- confronting a mugger, being
buried alive or whatever. Can you feel its increased rate of speed? Now repeat
silently, "My chest feels warm and pleasant," 6 to 8 times. Then say, "My heartbeat
is calm and steady," 6 to 8 times. Visualize and feel your heart beating slower in
response to your inner "thought beat." Visualize your heart beating slower. Then
repeat, "I feel completely calm," 6 to 8 times. Practice this exercise for 10 minutes
twice per day for 2 weeks.