By Luis S R Vas
Keep your heart healthy and whole by practicing this meditation which consists of breathing through your heart with a positive attitude
A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (160/110). The normal range is 120/80 -130/95. My family doctor prescribed a salt-free diet for a week. If it didn’t work, he said, I’d have to go on medication. I reduced my salt intake without much effect. I asked the doctor for another week’s reprieve from medication. I’d just remembered that a research on Transcendental Meditation(TM), showed a drop in BP levels. I’d been practicing TM for decades, repeating a two-syllable Sanskrit mantra for 20 minutes, twice a day, but had dropped it after a bout of typhoid – my fever tended to shoot up if I did TM. I decided to resume the practice. A week later, my BP had dropped down to 130/90. Harvard’s Dr Herbert Benson demonstrated that using the word ‘one’ as your mantra has the same effect on your BP.
Months later, I fell into a dry gutter, and suffered a bone-deep gash on my leg. The surgeon who stitched it up found my BP had risen to 170/110. I assured him that though my BP had once been high, I’d brought it down with TM; that day’s high BP must have been due to the trauma of falling into the gutter. The surgeon reacted almost violently. “Meditation doesn’t help with BP. You need medication. Get your BP checked weekly by your physician, and ask him for medication. Otherwise, high BP can affect the kidneys, heart, and even the brain.” I didn’t react. He also asked me if I was in pain. I shook my head. “Are you diabetic?” he asked. “No,” I responded. He sounded puzzled, and said he would give me only pain killer tablets instead of an injection which he normally gave in the circumstances.
When I returned a couple of days later to the surgeon to get the dressing of the wound changed, I asked him to take my BP count again. It was 140/90. “That’s OK for your age,” he commented. I decided to reinforce my TM with Heart Coherence (HC), something I’d recently learnt. It had been discovered that if you took slow deep breaths, and imagined you were breathing through your heart, adopting an attitude of gratitude, your heartbeat became much more uniform than usual and was said to have achieved coherence. A good indication was that you felt warmth in your chest at such times.
I combined HC with TM, and asked the surgeon to take my BP again when I went to get the dressing changed for the third time. “130/80. It’s perfect,” he said. “I did it with meditation,” I said. He didn’t react. My healing also went on much faster than the surgeon had expected. I attribute it to my meditation. I also learnt that research shows that meditators respond better to pain than others.
However, many people maintain that they don’t have 40 minutes a day to spare. For them, just HC may suffice, according to research by HeartMath Institute, which offers several techniques that make use of HC, and can be practiced for a few minutes at a time, anywhere, anytime. They are reproduced below:
The Quick Coherence exercise is a powerful emotion refocusing technique that connects you with your heart power to help you release stress, balance your emotions, and feel better fast. The Quick Coherence technique can serve as a short exercise you can do any time of the day, in about a minute, to restore your heart’s consistency.
Step 1: Heart Focus
Focus your attention in the area of your heart. Gently focus in the centre of your chest, the area of your heart. If your mind wanders, keep shifting your attention back to the area of your heart.
Step 2: Heart Breathing
Focusing on the area of your heart, pretend your breath is flowing in and out through that area. Breathe slowly and gently, in through your heart (to a count of five or six), and slowly and easily out through your heart (to a count of five or six). Do this until your breathing feels smooth and balanced, and you find an easy rhythm.
Step 3: Heart Feeling
As you continue to breathe through the area of your heart, recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside, and try to re-experience it. Allow yourself to feel this good feeling of appreciation or care. If at first you can’t feel anything , it’s okay; just try to find a sincere attitude of appreciation or care. Once you’ve found a positive feeling or attitude, sustain it by continuing your heart focus, heart breathing and heart feeling.
Rather than fixing something, Heart Lock-In is about experiencing your heart at a deeper level.
• Shift your attention away from your mind, and focus on your heart.
• Remember the feeling of love or care you have for someone whom it’s easy for you to love. Try to stay with that feeling for five to 15 minutes.
• Gently send that feeling of love or appreciation to yourself and others. In 15 minutes, a Heart Lock-In can provide physical, mental and spiritual regeneration.
Freeze-Frame is a one-minute technique that allows a major shift in perception. More than positive thinking, it creates a definitive, heartfelt shift in how we view a situation, an individual or ourselves. When under stress:
• Shift out of the head, and focus on the area around your heart. Keep your attention there for at least 10 seconds. Continue to breathe normally.
• Recall a positive time or feeling you had in your life, and attempt to re-experience it. Remember, try not simply to visualize it, but rather to feel it fully.
• Ask a question from the heart: “What can I do in this situation to make it different?” or “What can I do to minimize stress?”
• Listen to the response of your heart. You may hear nothing, but perhaps feel calmer. You may receive verification of something you already know, or you may experience a complete perspective shift, seeing the crisis in a more balanced way. Although we may not have control over the event, we do have control over our perception of it.
Attitude Breathing Tool
In Attitude Breathing, you focus on your heart and solar plexus as you breathe a positive attitude. The heart will automatically harmonize the energy between the heart, mind and body, increasing coherence and clarity.
• Focus on the heart as you breathe in. As you breathe out, focus on your solar plexus. The solar plexus is located about four inches below the heart, just below the sternum where the left and right sides of your ribcage are joined.
• Practice breathing in through the heart, and out through the solar plexus for 30 seconds or more, to help anchor your energy and attention there. Next, select a positive feeling or attitude to breathe in and out through those same areas for another 30 seconds (or more). For example, you can breathe in through the heart, an attitude of appreciation; and breathe out through the solar plexus, an attitude of care.
• Select attitudes to breathe that will help offset the negative emotion or imbalance of the situation you are in. Breathe deeply with the intent of shifting to the feeling of that attitude. For example, you can breathe in an attitude of balance, and breathe out an attitude of forgiveness.
Practice different combinations of attitudes you want to develop. You can tell yourself, “breathe genuine”, “breathe courage”, or whatever attitude you want. Even if you can’t feel the shift at first, making an earnest effort will help you get to a neutral state.
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