Meditation: Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind

We have all heard of the benefits of meditation when it comes to our health. It allows us to learn to breathe better, be more mindful and connected with our bodies, and have another outlet for our emotions, whatever they may be. And this is especially important for heart patients who have to learn not only to deal with the challenges of having a heart that’s not working correctly, but also the anxiety that goes along with not knowing when the next episode might happen.

Alaska PeaceFor some people it’s a matter of turning to anxiety medication or anti-depressants to help them deal with the day-to-day challenge of the not knowing. And for other’s it’s learning the art of meditation to help calm before the anxiety kicks in, and to give the body a chance to heal itself.

It’s for those reasons specifically that we recently held a session with a group of patients at the Cavanaugh Heart Center at Banner Good Samaritan. Most of the patients who attended had some type of heart rhythm problem that can be possibly be controlled by medication, implantable pacemaker/defibrillators and now a new tool, meditation.

The session was important because many of those in the room were trying to live “normal” lives but having to face the challenges of never knowing when their heart would go out of rhythm and when they might be shocked by their defibrillator.

So, this panel was set up with myself, Sue Green, a heart patient and Kathleen Todd, a counselor and therapist who has been working with meditation for decades. I had been shocked by my defibrillator before, and I have to say that attempting to live a normal life, never knowing when it would happen, is a challenge. But it’s a challenge that I had been coping with through the use of meditation. Which I felt had been a big help.  This is the reason why I brought in Kathleen to talk to this group of special people with some unique needs. We need to feel in control of something, and meditation allows us to do just that.

Kathleen talked about the benefits of meditation, some of the challenges, and how to get started, which for some people is the hardest part. We sometimes think that if we take a pill it should fix everything, but it doesn’t always work that way. With the meditation, we learn about how to actually recognize when our bodies are under stress, (a prime time for a problem to arise), and how to calm ourselves before we get into trouble.

At the bottom of this post you’ll see the slide show we used gathering information about the basics of meditation from Kathleen’s experience, as well as the experience of others.

The slide show includes a few of the points we spoke about, and there is also a great short video that talks about how we can do a meditation in just a minute.

This fun little video is based on Martin Boroson’s book,  One Moment Meditation: Find a Moment of Peace, Right Now.

Some people get scared off by the idea that meditation means you sit down and commit an hour to being quiet, but we spoke about the benefits you can achieve by just doing it for a few minutes, and how it can get us out of trouble when our heart begins to experience problems that we can try and immediately control before it gets out of hand.

We hope you enjoy learning about the use of meditation to get out of trouble before you get in trouble. And if you have any questions about meditation and its use as a tool to help us get in better touch with our bodies and become healthier, please don’t hesitate to contact Kathleen Todd.

This post is by Susan C. Green, who practices meditation and has taught meditation and relaxation techniques with Kathleen Todd. 

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