As the Going SOULo community explores love, we can all use this moment to take stock of the affairs of your own heart – to check in with that vital organ perched behind your breast-bone which not only Hallmark says is the center of amour, but also where science points to rate and pulse, and religions determined long ago the seat of the soul resides. So, consider giving yourself a mind-body-spirit tune-up of the heart!
As far as the body goes, the American Heart Association reminds us that heat disease is still our number one killer. An American has a coronary event every 25 seconds and every minute someone dies as a result. The good news is that the chance of developing coronary heart disease can be reduced greatly with steps to control your health, starting with the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits.
Following the “Life’s Simple 7” steps will take you a long way toward good heart health. Step one – good nutrition: eat a variety of wholesome food daily and include fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Keep your weight in the healthy range. Watch your cholesterol levels, keeping the total less that 200 mg, and minimize sugar intake. Exercise at least 30 minutes at a moderately intense level five days a week. If you smoke, stop today. Develop healthy sleep habits and be sure to build periods of relaxation into your day. These steps should help keep your blood pressure below 120/80. Start with a few manageable changes and know that even a small change can make a big difference.
The heart means so much more than the pitter-patter of a strong muscle. We credit the heart as the place where our emotions are “felt.” We “trust” our hearts, we experience heart ache and heart break, I (heart) you, and we sing about “heart and soul.” Though we say our emotions live in the heart, an emotion is actually the result of the brain and heart acting in concert; emotion is where the mind meets the body. Research shows that when our brain identifies an emotion like love, the heart produces a distinct rhythm – a smooth pattern like gently rolling hills. Such harmonious heart rhythms indicate cardiovascular efficiency and a balanced nervous system. It turns out that feeling good is actually good for your heart!
Cultivating positive feelings like appreciation is one way to take care of your heart. Think of something or someone you feel genuinely appreciative of, and as this memory conjures up feelings of gratitude, you are harmonizing your heart rhythm and reducing emotional stress.
When we extend these good feelings beyond ourselves to another, when we “open our hearts” to others, our hearts seem to thrive and actually light up with electromagnetic energy. When people regularly visualize their hearts opening and reaching out to others, they have felt more calm, empathetic and creative.
We have long identified the heart as that place where spirit resides, the deep inner quiet that houses the soul. Not only does the heart have positive meanings in most world religions, visualizations and meditations often start with a focus on the heart center. It is important to tend to the heart as our spiritual center not only for our own nourishment, but also for the human spirit in the hearts of our families, our communities, and the world at-large.
It is through this essential heart tune-up that you can care for your body, mind and soul, while you also tend to the hearts of others!
To kindle your spirit, try this simple visualization: As your settle into a moment of quiet reflection, imagine breathing the divine into your heart, and with each exhalation, spread this heart energy throughout your body and then let it flow out into the world.
Join me in our discussion board in our face book community to share your thoughts on loving yourself during challenging times.
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