How Do We Choose the Path with a Heart?
It is important to make lifestyle changes to keep a healthy heart. We must also make emotional and spiritual changes. Research shows that these aspects of health are highly influential on the total well-being of a person. When choosing the heart-path, we choose to be LOVING and conscious to ourselves, our family members and our friends. We choose to eat balanced and nutritious meals, maintain a healthy weight, and be physically fit by keeping active. We participate in activities that make us truly happy.
“Love has consequences for health and well-being. The better we understand the concrete neurobiology of love and its possible secondary implications, the greater is our respect for the significance and potency of love’s role in mental and physical health. Love is closely related to the concept of pleasure and ‘positive psychology’, i.e., joyful mental states, and therefore has become a feature not only of thorough psychological but also basic science research – e.g., neurobiology –and clinical medicine…..Community, social support, health and survival (of the individual and the species) clearly indicate further beneficial properties of the biological love concept. Social support has documented health benefits, and the absence of positive social interactions or social bonds is typically associated with both physical and mental illnesses.”
Choosing the path with the heart means choosing the path of kindness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, peace, contentment, responsibility, and generosity. Choosing the path with the heart means loving life…ALL life. YOUR life, my life, his life, her life, animal life, plant life. The air, the water, the soil. Loving it all. When we choose the “heart path” of kindness and love, this effects our both our spiritual heart and our physical heart, bringing health and healing to the body.
This sounds far-fetched. Do you meant that there is a connection between a heartless world and a world with heart disease?
How Prevalent is Heart Disease in our Society?
Every year over half a million Americans die of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention most recent statistics:
- About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths!
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
- Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
- Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
When studying the principles of heart health, we know that heredity and genetic factors are major contributors to heart disease, but there are some things that we can change. Making healthy lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the risks of heart disease.
What are Some of the High-risk Lifestyles for Heart Disease?
So we can greatly lower our risk of heart failure and heart attack by making some life-style changes. But what does this have to do with choosing the “path of the heart?
“There are many paths to enlightenment.
Be sure to take one with a heart.” ~Lao Tzu
Research Shows Kindness and Love Help Prevent Heart Disease
According to multiple research studies, kindness and love create scientifically measurable chemical reactions in the body. These chemical changes in the body are “cardioprotective.” In other words, the chemical reaction that occurs when a person experiences the “emotional lift” during kind, loving, and heart-centered actions, protects our heart. According to Dr. David Hamilton, PhD, in an article entitled, “5 Side Effects of Kindness,”
“Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system.
Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure). The key is that acts kindness can produce oxytocin and therefore kindness can be said to be cardioprotective.”
Dr. Hamilton further explains that oxytocin also “reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system.” This reduction of free radicals slows down the aging process. Free radicals and inflammation play a major role in heart disease , as documented by D. Jezova, and M. Ondrejcakova of the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia. These researchers concluded that oxytocin has a powerful effect on free radical and inflammation levels, which have been proven to lead to coronary heart disease. Therefore, when we engage in acts of kindness and love, we are reducing inflammation in the body and reducing heart disease risk.
In his book, the “Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer cites scientific studies concluding that kindness both increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and strengthens our immune systems. When serotonin is released into the body, people feel less stress, euphoric, relaxed and happy. The biological, psychological and mental effects of kindness on the human body are expansive and not limited only to the “givers” or the “receivers.” Research has shown that an act of kindness not only increases the levels of serotonin in the recipient, but also in the person who is being kind, and in those who witness the act of kindness.
Multiple research studies show that love and kindness are key to health and healing. When we ignore our true heartfelt instincts, we can make ourselves ill. So why not listen to our hearts and love ourselves and your lives? Let our hearts tell us how to live our lives.
For now, let us always remember Lao Tzu’s words and choose the path with a heart. If we as a country and as a world, start making heartfelt choices in all we do, then we heal our bodies, ourselves and our universe and have a happy, healthy heart—mind, body, and spirit.
Bartels A, Zeki S. The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love. Neuroimage 2004;21:1155–66. (.pdf)
Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Babyak MA, Watkins LL, Waugh R, Georgiades A et al. Effects of exercise and stress management training on markers of cardiovascular risk in patients with ischemic heart disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2005; 293:1626–34.
Carter CS. Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1998;23:779–818.
Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, Muller, D, Santorelli SF et al. Alterations in brain and immune function
produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med 2003;65:564–70.
Dyer, Dr. Wayne, The Power of Intention, Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way, HayHouse.com
Hamilton, David R, 5 Side Effects of Kindness, May 30, 2011.
Velazquez, Barbara, A Review of Scientific Evidence Supporting the Link Between Altruism and Health, Taskforce for Humanity Coalition,
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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