Your heart is much more than a biological muscle. It signifies energy, vibrancy, life, love, hope, happiness, vitality, strength, and spirit. When we examine our lives and the priorities that we place on our routines—careers, finances, relationships, successes, and failures—none of them carry much importance if we do not have our health as a base to support everything else. We strive to continually improve the quality of our lives, our sense of well-being, our energy levels, and our mental capacities.
Life is a gift, and good health and a good heart should be our most prized possessions. Yet too often, we fail to treasure our health and our hearts until those blessings are gone. Many of my patients seem to live in a state of constant chaos. They perceive their lives to be problem-filled, busy and unsettled, and they lurch from one crisis to another.
Sandra is one such example. A busy single mom of three young boys, Sandra works full time. She drops her children off at school each morning, picks them up at the end of the day, rushes home to prepare a meal, and barely has time to help them with homework before it’s time to get ready for bed. Hers is a busy life that many of us can relate to. She is constantly stressed and worried, fearful of the next crisis around the corner. Sandra’s life is out of control. It is no wonder that she is on several blood pressure medications and is constantly in my office with chest pain and palpitation.
Living in a constant state of chaos serves a purpose for Sandra. By keeping her attention and energy focused on putting out fires, she avoids facing the root causes of her stress. If external events are to blame, she does not have to assume personal responsibility for her actions or behaviors. This is the common thinking pattern of many. We defer to the chaos and allow it to sap our energy, disrupt our relationships, feed our addictions, and subject us to long-term health concerns.
But we have much more control over our lives than we give ourselves credit for. We may not hold sway over the many external events that seem to pitch our lives into a constant state of crisis. Yet we have power over something just as critical: our own reactions to those events.
Health and a vibrant, vivacious heart are not wholly physical things. The life we desire, the health we desire, and the quality of our hearts and bodies are first created within our mind’s eye. I share many effective techniques with my patients to help us manage stress, bring order to our chaotic lives, and find deep and lasting peace with ourselves and with the world around us.
– Build sources of renewable energy. Your body responds to stress with adrenaline, but adrenaline is a fast-burning fuel source that leaves you depleted in the long run. Renewable energy is a long-term well of power that you can draw on repeatedly. How do you build renewable energy? Spend time with family, friends and loved ones, doing things you enjoy. Nurture your soul with art, music, dance, and beautiful things. Love yourself first, and you will start to build boundless reserves of energy from within.
– Lower your stress response. Meditation, nature walks, and quiet times will help you focus on the present and release stress. Play a musical instrument. Go dancing. Tour a museum and embrace an unusual piece of art. Breathe. Rather than letting stress be a source of agitation, train your physical body to relax. Let stress be a minor element of your day, rather than letting it define the whole day.
– Connect with your inner self. Mindful meditation creates the right state of mind that will allow you to develop a relationship with your inner guide. Take an honest look at who you are inside and listen to your inner voice. Develop a relationship with your true self. Engage in a conversation with yourself. You may not always be aware of your inner voice – but it is always aware of you.
– Learn to become present in the moment. This is perhaps most important of all. Focus on a single moment in time. Become aware of that moment. Savor it. Appreciate it. Fill your senses with it. Let the past go and don’t worry about tomorrow. All that matters is today, this moment. Embrace today, one single moment at a time. Don’t even try to capture it on camera – just be content to let it reside in your memory. Each moment is precious. Savor it.
By building peace within, you will create a powerful defense against the demands of a chaotic life. You will turn things around and regain control of your choices, instead of letting external events control you.
A strong sense of inner peace is something that no external factor can disrupt. More importantly, your inner peace will become a source of renewable energy that will keep nurturing you no matter what. You will have boundless energy and endless vitality that no amount of stress or chaos can take away. Make the right choices, and celebrate your vibrant heart!