Getting to the heart of your stress, starting with your heart

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-02-08 08:15:40 -0600
Started 2010-11-08 12:31:55 -0600


I counsel individuals who are facing chronic and catastrophic medical conditions and their families and caregivers. I recently worked with a wonderful, vibrant young woman who was stricken with a virus that affect her heart, and necessitated the installation of a pacemaker. By the way, she has had some adventures with her pacemaker, but is still a energetic and vibrant, and moving forward with her life, with some adjustments and accommodations here and there, but nonetheless at full speed.

You might be interested in a stress reduction technique that I introduced her to, and have used personally as well. It is called HeartMath, and you can find out more about it on the Website of the Institute of HeartMath, They have books available that are inexpensive and easy to read. Their tagline is "Connecting hearts and minds."

I can't do this technique in a few words, but the idea behind heartmath is to calm yourself in the moment of stress by directly placing your hand over your heart while you use breathing and visualization techniques. Basically, you are applying love and compassion directly to your heart, and encouraging your heart, in return, to experience a sense of peace and calm, which radiates throughout your body. There is solid research behind this technique.

As you know, it is really important for anyone to manage their stress levels. For individuals with heart conditions, stress management is even more important.

I am always using new stress management techniques with my clients, and am therefore always looking for opportunities to learn new techniques, and share what I know about stress as well. I am also very interested in mindfulness and compassion, and how developing these qualities can benefit anyone facing health issues.

So I would be really happy to hear from you — questions, comments, techniques.

Thank you!

5 replies

koyuki_hime 2012-02-08 08:15:40 -0600 Report

Wow this is interesting technique. I should have try it myself when i am in stress cause sometimes it tends to quite stressful with all the business in the wards and all. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous 2011-03-09 15:09:25 -0600 Report

Thank you for the advice. I will definitely try it. Right now I don't have heart disease but I have complained of my heart skipping a beat and my heart feels heavy. I know that the heart feeling heavy is stress related. This method makes so much sense for me because it seems like I paying attention to my heart and my soul.

tankmom 2011-03-08 17:49:31 -0600 Report

Very interesting and so simple. I have never heard of this and will definitely try this next time I find myself stressed. Thank you

bluroz 2010-11-09 23:41:19 -0600 Report

I have heard of that technique, and it is also possible for another person to assist by placing their hand over another's heart and visualize sending love and compassion to the other person. It becomes more effective if both people will coordinate their deep breathing of inhales and exhales in unison. This will also work with a small child to calm and soothe when they are upset or ill—but sometimes the child will not control their breath—but if you continue to control your breath they may, and often will, start slowing down their breath and thus reduce their stress.

I have practiced yoga, tai chi and meditation, and these are extremely effective in reducing stress. Try taking a cleansing breath by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This will slow your mind and bring a calming effect to both body and mind. Then after 6 or 8 cleansing breaths, inhale through your nose and allow your abdomen to rise up with the breath, then slowly exhale through your nose. Placing one hand on your abdomen will let you know if you are breathing correctly. This breathing technique can be practiced anywhere.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2010-11-11 10:46:24 -0600 Report


Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your experiences and insights.

I am glad you hear that you have tried this approach and found success. Using the HeartMath technique with another person is a great idea. It's like a double dose of love and compassion. What's better than that? I can also see where children could benefit from this, in part from the concentrated concern from a parent.

I'm glad you are also working with other body-mind-spirit practices. Increasingly the research is showing the value of these approaches to lowering stress and increasing the sense of well-being. I have also used the cleansing breath technique with clients. It really does work.

Thanks again. I hope a lot of other Heart Connect members will read your post and give your breathing technique a try.

Stay in touch! And have a great day!

Next Discussion: LOW BLOOD PRESSURE »