With the approaching holiday of Thanksgiving, I would like to encourage you all to culture attitudes of gratitude and appreciation. This outlook need not be restricted to one day a year, but should extend into every day, hour and minute of your life. Everyone would probably agree that feelings of appreciation and gratitude are positive states, but did you know that they also have a profound effect on your physical body? Both of these states, as well as those of compassion, forgiveness, happiness, non-judgment, patience, sincerity and caring are all heart-centered feelings, which immediately affect your heart rhythm. The heartbeat becomes more synchronized and coherent, which improves hormonal balance and immune system response.
“The heart has its own independent nervous system, referred to as ‘the brain in the heart”, say Doc Childre and Howard Martin in their book, The Heart Math Solution. “There are at least forty thousand neurons in the heart-as many as are found in various sub-cortical centers of the brain.” Childre and Martin go on to say that, “The heart’s electromagnetic field is by far the most powerful produced by the body; it’s approximately five thousand times greater in strength that the field produced by the brain. The heart’s field not only permeates every cell in the body, but also radiates outside of us; it can be measured up to eight to ten feet away with sensitive detectors called magnetometers.”
Stress is your body’s reaction to anything that upsets your normal equilibrium or internal balance. It occurs when you misperceive or when your perceptions do not match the reality of the situation. This causes a psychological imbalance, which generates a multitude of chemical and hormonal changes within the body. According to the American Institute of Stress, as many as 75 to 90 percent of all visits to the primary-care physician are from stress-related disorders. In order to cope with these complaints, they note, that each year Americans consume five billion tranquilizers, five billion barbiturates, three billion amphetamines and sixteen thousand tons of aspirin, not including ibuprofen and acetaminophen (HeartMath).
Stress causes a disordered heart rhythm, constricts blood vessels causing our blood pressure to increase, as well as encompasses over fourteen hundred known physical and chemical reactions and over thirty different hormones and neurotransmitter changes. Chronic stress produces high levels of cortisol in our bodies, which over long periods of time has been shown to impair immune functions, reduce glucose utilization, increase bone loss and promote osteoporosis, reduce muscle mass, inhibit skin growth and regeneration, increase fat accumulation (especially around the waist and hips), impair memory and learning, and destroy brain cells.
Bringing the heart into coherence by focusing on situations, which evoke feelings of gratitude and appreciation will reduce or eliminate stress levels. The powerful electromagnetic field of the heart brings the brain as well as all other organs back into balance. The brain synchronizes and you experience heightened clarity and a greater sense of well-being. Cortisol levels drop, the body relaxes, and almost no energy is wasted. HeartMath’s “Freeze-Framer” is a wonderful biofeedback tool to help you train to be constantly in that state of awareness. Their website is: www.HeartMath.com
The only way to overcome stress is to change your perception. Events do not cause the stress in our lives, but the way we perceive those events. Whether justified or not, anger and frustration will always cause stress. Misperception is based on lack of love in some aspect, either towards yourself or towards others, while correct perception is in alignment with principles of love. Love and appreciation bring harmony and peace, while misperceptions create discord and conflict. The path to peace and good health lies, therefore, in the conscious culturing and enrichment of feelings of gratitude and appreciation in your life. The more you focus on it, the more you will see it around you. The world is but the reflection of your perceptions.