Two physical elements that you cannot live without, and that are abundant and practically free, will help you immensely as you aim to keep your heart healthy. They are air and water, or more specifically, clean air and clean cool water, which provide a solid foundation for the body’s needs. Breathing in fresh, clean air enables your heart to pump a rich supply of oxygen throughout your whole body. And drinking enough clean, pure water improves the quality of your blood, which in turn improves your heart health.
Let’s Talk About Air
Your body requires a good supply of oxygen to keep it running optimally. Literally, oxygen is food for your body. Benefits include:
• Cell regeneration
• Energy production
• Waste elimination
• Tissue detoxification
• Healthy brain activity
• Immune system maintenance
• Promotion of healing and recovery
• Natural calming effect
We all know that without oxygen, we die very quickly. Our body systems simply shut down. It makes sense, then, that ongoing low oxygen intake is equivalent to a slow death. This is why increasing your daily supply of oxygen should become one of your highest health-related priorities.
Thankfully, increasing your oxygen intake is well within your reach. It’s a matter of learning to breathe deeply. Unfortunately, as we grow older we develop the tendency to breathe shallower and shallower. It’s a mistaken notion that our lungs lose their capacity as we age. That’s simply not true. In actuality, we “forget” how to breathe deeply, and we tend to take shorter, shallower breaths that deprive our cells of oxygen and fail to use our full lung capacity.
Take a deep breath right now, then exhale slowly. Feel your lungs filling up. Feel every cell of your body energized by the oxygen. Feel yourself relax with every big breath you take. Therapeutic, isn’t it?
I’ve developed a form of deep breathing called Full Wave Breathing™ (FWB) that does wonders to increase your body’s oxygen intake. It’s an easy three-step process that you can learn quickly and master with regular practice. It involves breathing fully into your abdomen and maintaining a steady inhale-exhale flow with no pause in between. Your exhale is effortless and natural. You can breathe through your nose or mouth, whichever you prefer. Just be aware that breathing through your mouth can increase oxygenation by more than 50 percent.
You can download and print complete FWB instructions here. This is a great technique for working with children as well as adults. After downloading FWB instructions (they’re free), remember to practice this powerful technique daily. We’ll cover FWB more in future posts.
Many individuals have found Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT or HBO) to be highly beneficial. HBOT involves flooding every cell of the body with oxygen. The individual lies down comfortably in a chamber and breathes normally. The pressurized chamber supplies 100% oxygen. Most sessions last from 45 minutes to two hours, with the person relaxing inside while breathing normally and listening to soothing music. This therapy is used extensively in Europe and in Russia, with positive results. It’s not as widely available in the United States yet; fewer than 400 American hospitals offer HBOT. But it is available.
Doctors and researchers have discovered that HBOT:
➢ Increases oxygen concentration in all body tissues
➢ Improves blood flow, even in regions with arterial blockages and also to compromised organs
➢ Stimulates growth of new blood vessels
➢ Enhances white blood cell action
➢ Successfully addresses chronic degenerative health problems.
For these reasons and others, HBOT is used around the world to treat a vast array of ailments. Conditions that have been successfully treated by this method include traumatic brain injury, stroke, fetal alcohol syndrome, coma, multiple sclerosis, autism, and sports injuries. More and more it’s being used for cardiovascular cases.
Spend some time researching Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on the Internet. If you feel you might benefit from this form of therapy, then print the information that you find most useful and take it to your doctor. Discuss with him or her the potential benefits in your particular situation. This form of therapy is approved by Medicare for limited uses, including peripheral artery disease. Know also that private clinical services are available.
Let’s Talk About Water
Next we move on to water, another basic element that does wonders for your health and wellbeing. Over the years, you’ve repeatedly heard that it’s a good idea to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Why is this important? Because the cells of your body, including your heart, need water to work properly. Your body is composed of water, and you lose water through natural functions like perspiration. It’s important to replenish this water daily.
Sufficient water intake helps with your digestion, keeping your skin hydrated, helping your body absorb nutrients from food, and detoxifying your cells. In addition, drinking enough water can stave off a wide range of maladies, from headaches to exhaustion to even kidney stones!
What’s more, drinking plenty of water can lower your risk of getting heart disease for a number of reasons. Here are several:
- Being marginally dehydrated affects your blood’s viscosity, or thickness, which can raise blood pressure and increase heart attack risk.
- When the body doesn’t get enough water, it “closes off” some capillaries. This restricts the flow of blood and causes blood pressure to rise in order to keep the blood circulating through.
- Water contains minerals, such as magnesium, which help keep the heart healthy.
- By drinking plenty of water, you flush toxins out of your system more quickly. This, in turn, helps keep your blood cleaner, so to speak. Healthier blood circulating through your body keeps your heart healthier, too.
A study conducted by the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California found that drinking enough water every day significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Findings showed that healthy men who drank at least five glasses of water a day had a 54% decrease in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease compared to men who drank only two glasses of water. For women, the risk was lowered by 41%. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that drinking plenty of water thins the blood, which reduces the risk of developing blood clots.
Tap water is good, so long as you filter it to remove harmful substances such as fluoride and chlorine. A faucet-type filter can remove most impurities and you’ll need to keep it clean.
It’s best to drink plain water; juices, milk, teas, and sodas do not have the same effect as plain water does. They do count as part of your daily consumption unless they are diuretic in nature. Bottled water is also a good option for drinking; although, it has some negative implications for the environment. Make the choice that makes sense for you!
Keeping your heart healthy makes it a timekeeper for your life. Your timekeeper requires more than just taking physical care of your heart and body. In my last post we looked at how to have a healthy heart. In my next several posts, I will share taking a more holistic approach to heart health.
Think of your heart as a physical entity, affected by physical, mental, and spiritual factors. Keep in mind also that the mental association between love and your heart is so powerful that you can use this concept for your benefit. As you read this, remember PEMS – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Know that the connection between love and your heart is so great that it can generate powerful chemical changes – a physical manifestation that originates from a feeling of love.
These chemical changes, in turn, produce cellular relaxation that results in cellular regeneration. Cells always have two possible states: open or closed, expanding or contracting, renewing or dying.
- If you had a choice about the state your cells were in, which would you choose–robust or atrophy?
- And how would that benefit your heart physically?
As you explore physical ways to keep your timekeeper healthy, keep your thoughts positive and encouraging. Keep your feelings grounded in love. Do this, and you will renew the physical cells that make up your heart.
Reducing Stress on the Timekeeper
Reducing stress is critical to restoring and maintaining a healthy heart!
Great news here. You have plenty of non-drug stress interventions to choose from. They include deep breathing, biofeedback, yoga, support groups, vacations, hobbies, even your family pets! What is required is for you to set aside a time for your activity and to establish a regular routine or ritual around its performance.
It requires an act of self-love for you to follow through on your plans. Yes, you must put your health in a place of importance in your life. Can you care enough about your life to gain more of it?
This is a great time to take out your journal and seriously consider this question. As part of the emotional and spiritual maintenance that is necessary for heart health, ask yourself whether or not you are worth it? What’s stopping you from keeping your heart healthy? We often sabotage our own health for a variety of reasons. You need to examine these reasons if you want your timekeeper to stick around!
“Guided imagery is a very powerful psychological tool which can be used to achieve a wide variety of health objectives: enhance well being, expanded awareness, facilitate psychological growth and integration, evoke inner wisdom, increase empathy, expand creativity, increase memory, facilitate optimal performance, evoke a more positive attitude, and accelerate the learning of subject matter.”
-Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Imagine Well Being
Increase your well being by using your imagination. Think about this scene! It’s a bright and warm Friday afternoon. You left your office a little early this day to get some cash at the ATM machine for the weekend activities. You check your bank balance to find the astounding sum of one million dollars. All those zeroes flash on the screen.
Surprise lights up your eyes. Awestruck, you stare at the screen one more time to make sure that what you see is right. Passion wells up and laughter rolls through your body! Now hold that feeling. Breathe several deep, full connected-breaths and switch to another image for well being.
Carry that passionate, thrumming feeling into a scene from your life in which you were successful, on top of the world, and doing all you wanted to do. Remember the success. Breathe in the passion. See the success. Feel the emotion. Continue to breathe the passion in deeply and fully.
This exercise is an example of how mental imagery creates a sense of well being by pairing an image and evoked emotion. When you merge images and feelings that work for you, you can direct your energy and empower your results. Mental imagery makes you aware of your energy. You then choose how to direct your energy and intend a clear sense of health and well being.
The thoughts about how you view the world are not just housed in your brain. Your thoughts resonate in the magnetic field of your nervous system and throughout your whole body. Like a tuning fork, you resonate energy and well being because your body is a dynamic processor of energy.
Think of an image as a powerful emitter of your message to your environment. For example, you focus on an image that supports your intention of joy—you smiling, children laughing, ocean waves caressing the shore. You broadcast this image out into the world. Like any emission of energy, it will spread itself around, and your magnetic field will attract it back to you. So the question to ponder as you read this chapter is: What do you want to send out through your energy field and manifest in return? What dynamic do you want to empower?
WHAT IS IMAGERY?
Imagery is the ability to visualize or mentally create pictures and feelings. You can use this technique to empower success, joy and balance the same way an athlete envisions winning. Earlier chapters showed you that thoughts and feelings are not separate from each other. A thought triggers a biochemical response in your body. A feeling or sensation triggers a corresponding chemical response in the brain. Imagery lets you empower your awareness and direct your body into skill development and positive emotional states.
Mindbody science has shown us that thinking about running a race can trigger the same physical feelings as the physical act of running. Obviously running the race gives you the elation, physical exercise and tension release. What imaging the race before hand can do for you is set the stage by focusing your goal and preparing the physical body. In the same way, imaging success can empower your intention of joy and anchor triumph in your body.
Lynn Joseph, Ph.D., a professional speaker and founder of Discovery Dynamics, calls “guided imagery a thought process that directs and focuses the imagination and involves the body, the emotions and all the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste and touch. Even if your predominant sense is not visual, you can still use guided imagery effectively by feeling deeply and sensing acutely. Imagery is the powerful language of the subconscious. By choosing your images, you can program your subconscious mind for health and wellness. In fact, the subconscious mind does not know the difference between an image you ‘see’ in imagination and an image you see in the physical world.”
Have you noticed how life has a unique sense of humor about the topic of happiness. Why else would happiness be something that almost everyone wants and covets, yet only a few ever realize in their lifetimes?
Happiness is a mental and emotional state characterized by feelings of well being and contentment.
In human evolution, the mechanisms that alert us to danger, the motivation to survive and reproduce are how we think of the humans who preceded our lives and time. Today we are still attuned to danger and sensitive to negativity, and much of our attention is not focused on fun or pleasure that reward the brain’s pleasure centers. To be happier, we have to intentionally focus on being happy and shifting into that emotional feeling. Would you be willing to ignite your brain’s reward center through happy feelings and train your brain? That question is food for thought.
Another similar joke that life plays on all of us is that happiness is often achieved by those who stop looking for that good feeling. This may seem counterintuitive at first. Yet when you read the common beliefs shared people who are happy, you’ll understand how those who don’t seek happiness are the most likely to find it!
Strategies For More Happiness
An Attitude of Appreciation is needed when we take certain parts of life for granted. We might take our basic foundations like our homes, educations, or foods for granted. Perhaps our lifestyles seem so normal to us that we forget the freedom our lifestyles provide.
People who are happy, seem to be content and appreciate of whatever they have.
While our ancestors’ aggression and alert instincts helped them survive, the positive emotions like feeling satisfied, happy, or content support our larger connection to members of our family, friends and communities. Perhaps one way to gauge your level of happiness is to cultivate a mindset and appreciation for happiness.
- The mindset in which you take nothing for granted will usually require no more than a shift in attitude. You won’t have to change anything about your external circumstances.
- To remind yourself to be appreciative, make it a point to reflect on everything that you’re thankful for once a day. Doing this as you fall asleep each night helps to brush your cares away as you fall into restful slumber, preparing the way for a great day tomorrow.
Be realistic about achieving goals. Expecting success overnight, unless you have just won the lottery, is a sure recipe for disappointment. Happy people are realistic and pragmatic when it comes to setting and achieving their goals.
- You can understand exactly how much time and effort may be required to achieve a goal, and if you fall short, you then put in the necessary additional work required to succeed
- People who are always happy also know that life offers no guarantees. As you put in additional time and necessary work to complete a task or goals, , remind yourself that the journey is enjoyable. Enjoying the journey practically predicts that you will be amazed with happiness as you work on the tasks. The completion or achievement means even more to you now.
- This may sound pessimistic, however, this is merely to state that they are aware of the possibility that external factors outside of their control could easily change outcomes. Being aware of this can help lessen the blow when unforeseen circumstances arise.
Put others first. Achieving happiness can sometimes be the opposite of what you might think. You may be wondering how you can bring yourself closer towards achieving happiness if you put others first. Putting others first is a normal trait for persons with Adaptive Supporter temperaments. Temperament traits such as creating, achieving, supporting, or problem solving are characteristic of each of the four temperament styles. Thus, if you are not of the temperament to put others first, then know that your ability to be happy is that you follow your inner motivation toward your goals.
- Putting other people first automatically requires you to have a more humble and appreciative outlook on life. In addition to this, making others happy will invariably bring more happiness into your own life.
If you take some time to begin integrating the above approaches into your daily living, you’ll find that happiness has always been just around the corner – waiting for you to discover it.
Why Happiness Is Elusive to Some People
Most Disney movies and young children’s storybooks end with “happily ever after.” If only real life mimicked the story book endings, but it does not. The busier and more complicated life has become over the last century, happiness seems more tangible, but also still elusive. Parents are not always the happiest when their children are toddlers or teens, the ages when kids need and needle their parents the most. Certainly more income or less income or earning ability defines happiness, but researchers have shown that this does not hold any weight. The point here is that most people have imagined happiness based on getting married, having more money, finding the ideal partner, and so forth. The imagined happiness scenarios are just like the Disney movies–fantasy!
The truths about happiness from solid research sources shows that good, lasting relationships make people happy. The connection with those you love prove that feeling safe, appreciated, and treated with respect are factors in why relationships support happiness. Experiences with others you enjoy create happy memories
Focusing your energy on making those experiences happen will also make you happy. So what about money, and great vacations, or a brand new wardrobe? Won’t those “things” make you happy? The answer is perhaps fleetingly. The focus of true happiness is still about…
- Investing in the relationships that make you happy.
- Spending money on experiences that make the relationship better.
- Investing yourself fully in the relationship experiences.
You can practice these steps and find yourself growing in happiness. You can cultivate experiences to make others happy or just set and achieve the goals that make you happy. The key is to recognize the moments of happiness and then create them again.