BE KIND TO YOUR HEART: REMAIN IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
Reflecting on previous heart month blogs, I decided to be a bit different this time around. We’ve talked about diet, supplements, exercise, blood pressure, cholesterol, hormones, anti-aging and specialized laboratory testing. Those are all topics dear to me, but today I wanted to center on something so basic; living in the present moment.
Over the last 2-3 years I’ve produced several videos that can be found both on my web site (www.heartwise.com) and on my YouTube channel. One my personal favorites was the one entitled 'LIVE YOUR PASSION, BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT'. which can be viewed here
In this video I lead by example. Despite my busy and often hectic work schedule, I keep doing what brings me joy. Whether it’s bodybuilding and challenging myself physically, dancing, singing or writing, I am 100% engaged in whatever I’m doing. It’s critical to my sense of well-being.
I guess you can say that I bring passion to whatever I do. When patients used to say,” Dr. Elkin, you’re different,” I didn’t know how to react. Now I get it! I live my life with passion and gusto as if this was my last day on earth. It doesn’t matter if I’m counseling a patient about diet and stress management, performing a coronary intervention on a heart patient at the hospital, or enjoying my time off at the gym or dance studio. I bring that passion with it and me simply works.
Remaining present while actively pursuing your passion keeps our mind out of worry mode. So find your passion and keep your flame going. Yours may well be different. It may be gardening, playing chess or bridge, or crafting.
Use this month to truly be kind to your heart. If some of your favorite pastimes have gotten away from you, this is the time to seek them once again. If you’ve neglected doing something pleasurable because of your busy schedule, find the time. Create the time--ESPECIALLY for family!new grandchild!
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You might ask, what does this have to do with my health? To that I say everything! It’s a known fact that chronic stress negatively impacts our immune system. Ever take care of an elderly parent or loved one, constantly run on empty and then come down with an illness yourself. It’s called setting yourself up for disEASE.
When we are constantly running and leaving no time for ourselves, we enter that fight or flight mode. Our adrenals, our barometer for both physical and emotional stress, take a huge hit. Before long we are eating poorly, sleeping poorly and become majorly fatigued. This is surviving, not thriving.
There is one other aspect of remaining present that is certainly dear to my heart; daily meditative practice. Formerly I was sporadic when spending quiet time with myself. I would meditate and work on my breathing for a few weeks, and then when things got tough, I cast it aside. I simply didn’t have time for such frivolous activity.
But I was wrong. When I needed it the most, I abandoned my meditation practice. I distinctly recall this after my less than optimal back surgery several years back. Returning to that practice proved invaluable to my recovery.
Being human, all of us tend to spend valuable time worrying about the past. Since we can do nothing to change it, we need to accept it and move on. Then we obsess and fear the future. Here, too, we are putting ourselves in a worry mode, which simply doesn’t serve us.
I’m as culpable as anyone else. But because we are talking about being kind to our heart during Heart Month, we all need to set aside some time to simply breath and be in the moment.
Being a morning person, I start my day propping myself up in bed. For 20-30 minutes I work on my breath. After several minutes I start visualizing myself attaining any physical or career goal that I seek. I’m creating a present moment of personal victory. This can be a very empowering. Finally I end with a prayer of gratitude while asking my higher power to help those in need, be it family members, friends or patients suffering from an illness.
This is the system that works for me. There are scores of books, tapes and videos on creating your own meditative practice. I write about it my upcoming book in the chapter entitled; “YOU GOTTA BREATHE.”
My wish is for all of you to avail yourself this opportunity during Heart Month 2017. Learn to appreciate and embrace the present moment. Live your passion and do what brings you joy. Take the time NOW to work on your breath. To quote one of my favorites Dr. Jon Kabat –Zinn, professor and mindfulness training coach, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”
Taking this time to truly take care of your heart will benefit you in a multitude of ways.
Happy and healthy Heart Month to all of you!
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE / DISCLAIMER: I am offering—always—only general information and my own opinion on this blog. Always contact your physician or a health professional before starting any treatments, exercise programs or using supplements. ©Howard Elkin MD FACC, 2017.
*Originally Published Friday, February 17, 2017