“Can you help me doc? I’ Feel so stressed out?”
I was teaching a stress reduction seminar, called, “The Connected Heart,” and during the break a woman with sad eyes had approached me. Claudell was a thin woman with stark black hair, and a light complexion.
“Two other heart doctors have told me that I need open heart surgery,” she said, her voice quivering. “I have a heart valve that is leaking severely. I don’t want open heart surgery. I’m too afraid. Do you think you can help me.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I asked her to make an appointment to see me in the office. We finished the seminar, and two weeks later she showed up with videos of heart and her other medical records. After a careful review, I agreed with the other cardiologists. Her mitral valve was leaking severely. Symptoms of congestive heart failure were making her legs swell and giving her a sense of breathlessness. She needed surgery.
“I can’t have surgery,” she explained. “Two of my close relatives have died during similar surgeries for leaky heart valves. Are you willing to work with me to deepen my heart connection to see if this will heal my heart?”
Although stress has been shown to cause weakening of the heart muscle, something called Stress Cardiomopathy, I had never heard of stress causing leaky valves. I was hesitant to agree. Because she refused to have surgery, I agreed to work with her for 6 months, but if she didn’t get better she would have to consent to have the surgery.
Over the next six weeks I did six intensive sessions with Claudel, teaching her how to connect more deeply with her own heart. Most people think that the heart is just a pump, but it’s much more than this. Within and surrounding our heart is over 40,000 nerve cells. These nerve cells work like a mini brain, acting independently of the big brain inside your head. The heart’s mini-brain helps control the circulatory system your blood pressure and heart rate.
Your heart can also feel. It perceives emotions. It retains memories. Like other people who hire me for lectures and seminars, Claudell had heard that I was an expert who champions a different way of dealing with stress. This is the secret that few people know about. Your heart has the ability to help you heal the stress in your life.
It carries a wisdom and knowledge that you can learn to tap into to get the stress relief you deserve.
And this is what happened with Claudel. After just six sessions of working together, learning how to connect more fully with and open her heart, getting rid of the torment of guilt and sadness- her leaky valve was healed. It went back to normal.
Although my ears told me this when I listened to her heart in the office, I couldn’t believe it. I performed an ultrasound confirm what my ears were telling me. The leakage was completely gone.
Amazingly, she didn’t need to have open heart surgery. Ten years later, she still hasn’t had to have
her valve fixed.
This is the powerful secret of stress reduction that I wanted to share with you. Your heart has what you need to help you relieve the stress in your life. All you have to do is learn how to connect more deeply to your heart in order to gain access this healing power.
So today I wanted to give you three simple steps to help you finally get a handle on your stress.
To help you start this process. So find a comfortable place to begin working…
Step Number one: Use your breath to start feeling relaxed.
Whenever we feel stressed out our breath will be rapid and shallow. Controlling the breath is the place to start to reduce our feelings of stress. The way to do this is to take a deep breath in through the nose and blow it out. Fill your lungs completely on the inhalation and then forcefully expel the air and deflate your lungs. Repeat this for a total of three breaths in and three out. As I said, stress and breathing are connected. Deep breathing can help reduce stress.
Number two: focus on your heart
It’s well known that whatever you focus on expands. If you focus on your heart you’re going to become more in tune with your heart. You’re going to be able to connect more easily with your heart. As I said its a hidden secret- that creating a deeper heart connection is a powerful way to take charge of your stress
So STEP #2 is to focus on your heart. Your physical heart to lies just left of your breastbone. I like to have people place the right hand over the heart to get that feeling of connection started. Bring all your concentration down to this area that lies beneath your hand. Block out everything else around you and concentrate on your heart.
Third: remember some event or situation that makes you feel tremendously relaxed.
Let yourself go back to an experience where you felt totally relaxed. It could be when you were on vacation or had a good time on the weekend. Whatever that memory is just allow it to come into your heart region. Let yourself get totally relaxed with this memory. Let it go deeper and deeper into and feel it in your heart. It should be a feeling that really makes you feel relax . Let this memory, this feeling just percolate inside your heart.
Now notice your stress. At this point your stress should be less.
Using this method can be a dramatic way to bring calmness and peace to your heart. You’ll want to practice it every evening before bed to start the process of training you heart connection.
Remember, your heart knows what you need to be stress free. Trust your heart. Connect and trust- doing these two things will make a difference in your stress level
So this is the secret I wanted to share with you about stress reduction.
Dr. Kirk Laman
The Wholehearted Cardiologist and Stress Reduction Expert
Seek. Knock. Open Your Heart.