What do Mindful Digestion and Heart-Focused Breathing Have in Common?

Mindful digestion and heart focused breathing are practices that speak to permaculture principle four: apply self-regulation and accept feedback. These principles evolved from indigenous peoples’ methods to regenerate the earth. Principle four involves pausing before acting and using feedback to maintain balance. For both human beings and planet earth, accepting and processing feedback is critical for preserving equilibrium. What does this look like in our own self-care practices?

Our body continuously sends us feedback. Self-regulation involves acknowledging this feedback and adjusting our thoughts and actions accordingly.  In this article, we explore two of these feedback loops: digestion and heart rate.

Mindful Digestion

The digestive feedback loop begins before we even take a bite of food, when we’re thinking about eating and/or smelling food.  Known as the cephalic phase of digestion, here the stomach responds to the sight, smell, or the thought of food by secreting digestive chemicals. Being aware of when digestion begins may make us not only more mindful of eating, but also more mindful of how our body responds to the food we have ingested. Recent research has found that a mindful eating practice can improve the digestive process. It is possible that paying attention to every step of the process before, during and after eating constitutes mindful digestion.

For example, I notice that if I eat refined sugar, my heart races and my thinking gets a little foggy.  This is my body providing me with feedback.  I can apply that feedback by walking briskly for 20 minutes after ingesting sugar because movement decreases the spike in blood sugar and minimizes or eliminates the negative symptoms for me.  This loop is an example of practicing permaculture principle four in self-care: apply self-regulation and accept feedback.  Learn more about mindful digestion in the video below.




Heart-Focused Breathing Practice

Our heart rate is always changing beat by beat, creating a bigger pattern known as heart rate variability (HRV). Because HRV reflects our ability to adapt to stress, it creates a window into our well-being. Heart-focused breathing, which improves HRV, involves experiencing a positive emotion while focusing on the heart center and breathing slowly. The practice brings more order to the nervous system and creates a more harmonious rhythm in the heart. This is a simple, yet powerful 5-minute practice, validated by the HeartMath Institute that you can do anytime.  Try it below!




Like the earth, the human body is constantly seeking homeostasis. We can consciously cooperate with that process by engaging in self-regulation, accepting feedback, and acting on that feedback in a way that supports harmony of our body, mind, and spirit.

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and wellbeing.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation. While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for wellbeing!

Interested in Hero’s Journey Coaching?  Contact me at ruthannrusso@gmail.com or visit https://ruthannrusso.com/be-coached/

Reference links:

Mindful Eating: A Review of How The Stress-Digestion-Mindfulness Triad May Modulate And Improve Gastrointestinal And Digestive Function

Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat

Heart Rate Variability, HeartMath Institute

Cardiac Coherence, Self-Regulation, Autonomic Stability and Psychosocial Wellbeing

Neuroscience of self-regulation

The Structure of self-regulation

A hierarchical integrated model of self-regulation


Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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