Your feeling heart
Heart disease is still the number one killer worldwide. The human heart is an extraordinary muscular pump that automatically pumps blood around the body through thousands of miles of blood vessels. From while you were still in your mother's womb until you die, your heart will beat more than 3.5 billion times and will pump more than 500 million gallons of blood. In health, the heart does this awesome job with effortless ease. No man-made pump rivals the heart's exquisite abilities.
Ancient traditions have passed down a strong belief in the intelligence of the heart. Early research into heart intelligence by two physiologists, John and Beatrice Lacey, showed that the heart actually communicates with the brain in ways that greatly affect how we see and respond to the world in which we live.
Only 25 years ago, heart specialist Dr Andrew Armour introduced the term 'heart-brain' and explained that the heart possessed a complex nervous system that functioned like a brain.
Here are some interesting facts that modern research has now confirmed about the heart:
- The heart has its own independent nervous system known as "the brain in the heart".
- The heart starts beating in the unborn foetus before the brain has been formed, and our emotional brain then develops long before the rational one.
- The heart-brain constantly sends signals to the head-brain, creating a two-way communication system between heart and brain.
- The heart directs and aligns many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.
- The heart also sends us emotional and intuitive signals to help us live more wisely.
EMOTIONS AND THE HEART
Research conducted by the United States-based non-profit organisation HeartMATH has shown that negative emotions put the nervous system out of balance, and when that happens heart rhythms are disturbed and the heartbeat becomes irregular. This puts stress on the physical heart and other organs and can cause serious problems, including sudden death.
Many of us are aware of heart attacks and sudden death being caused by a blockage to the blood vessels in the heart. The drug companies are hard at work convincing us that cholesterol-lowering drugs will solve that problem. On the other hand, most of us are unaware that an irregular heartbeat is another frequent cause of heart attacks and death.
HeartMATH research suggests that the more we learn to tune in to our heart's intelligence, the wiser and more balanced our emotions become. Without the guiding influence of the heart, we fall prey to reflex emotions such as insecurity, anger, fear, guilt, and blame, as well as other unhealthy reactions and behaviours.
The current epidemic of high blood pressure is influenced in a big way by these unrecognised emotions.
STRESS AND HEART HEALTH
Stress is now a familiar household word often used to blame mental lapses, emotional outbursts, headaches, other unexplained pains, or even major illnesses. From a body-mind perspective, our emotional responses are the main ingredients in the experience of stress. It is our feelings like anxiety, irritation, frustration, being overwhelmed, lack of control, hopelessness that arise when we describe ourselves as stressed.
HeartMATH research indicates that emotions, even more than just thoughts, produce the physical changes in our bodies (and hearts) that occur with stress. Negative emotions do disrupt heart health. Conversely, the emotions we often identify as positive facilitate a healthy heart and optimise the body's natural healing ability.
CARING YOUR HEART
In the past, I have extolled the benefits to your heart of a proper diet, exercise, weight management, and nutritional supplements, cellular nutrition, vitamins B complex and C, magnesium, the omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10, Hawthorne and L carnithine, and chelation therapy, to name some.
I still do, but please remember that stress and negative emotions can have deadly effects on the heart. Specific stress management tools like Yoga Nidra, meditation, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, breathing techniques, and biofeedback are strategies that have a major role to play in maintaining a healthy heart as well as in correcting pre-existing heart problems. My relaxation training CD, A Time to Relax, has proved to be a very useful stress-management tool.
- You may email Dr Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:20 pm. Details of his books and articles are available on his website www.tonyvendryes.com.