The symptoms of heart disease aren’t visible. And, surprisingly, they aren’t always medical.
February 5 was “Go Red for Women” day and as I was getting dressed, frantically trying to find something that was 1) Red 2) Matched and 3) not in need of ironing, I began to really think about what the day meant, in terms of bringing awareness of heart disease – the silent killer for women. Often times, the symptoms of heart disease go undetected until it’s too late.
This is heart disease in the medical context. But I thought deeper, what about heart disease in the mind/body context? If you follow any sort of spiritual or religious mantras, you are likely familiar with the following:
Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (NLT)
In Chinese, the word for heart and mind are the same.
Buddism refers to all things are preceded by the mind, led by the mind and created by the mind. It refers to heart and mind as one word. Only in English is it two words for clarity.
So could such a concept as a “mental heart disease” exist? Consider the belief that all our actions are a result of our feelings, perceptions and thoughts. And feelings, perceptions and thoughts manifest in our heart. Stress, anxiety, anger, and judgment fester in the heart, and no matter much we think we are hiding them, are revealed in our actions. When we believe a story that someone is rude because of a set of experiences, our resulting actions toward that person are driven by the thought story, which creates the feelings in our heart, and impacts our behavior.
So then, the state of the heart = our mindset. And, mindset = actions.
How do you guard your heart? Guarding your heart is not closing yourself off to other people, experiences, or emotions. Guarding your heart is the awareness that you have a conscious choice to allow what experiences and perceptions you choose to believe.
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Guarding your heart begins with the mindset that what other people do or say is never a reflection of you. It is a result of their own thinking, perceptions and experiences. Just as, what you do or say is never a reflection of what other people do or say, it’s a result of your own thinking, perceptions and experiences.
The good news is you have the supreme ability to control this. We are all exposed to a series of events, people and experiences that have contributed to our “heart disease.” Some people have allowed in more disease than others, by allowing their heart and mind to be infected by their thoughts and judgements of themselves and others.
Here are some simple, but not easy, ways you can begin to heal your “heart disease.”
- Your Facebook Newsfeed. Who do you follow? When you review your daily newsfeed, is it filled with uplifting messages and updates? Or, is it filled with drama, calls for attention and negativity? No matter how you’ve assessed your newsfeed, I urge you to take a social media fast. While positivity may be flowing, you may not realize how much you are comparing your own life against the 1% of what others choose to show about theirs. Additionally, we often make general assumptions about what we see, which are rarely rooted in reality. These “my life vs. what everyone else has” thinking affects our heart just as much as negativity by creating stories of envy, comparison, idolizing, and striving for an unhealthy picture of false perfection.
I took a 10 day social media fast and my social media habits have never been the same. After going social media cold turkey, I admit now how much of my life I compared to others, only to lead me to create (false) stories about how much happier others were than me.
So, the state of my heart = envy and thus, mindset = I am not enough, and actions = not competent enough to start project xyz.
Wow – what a story full of lies based on what I’d let into my heart as a belief! How many lies are you believing that keep you from taking action?
Another surprising outcome was how much we use social media as a “mind pacifier.” Bored? Scroll. Anxious? Scroll. Feeling anti-social? Scroll. Sad? Scroll. What the “mind pacifier” does is similar to a painkiller. It numbs the emotion, but doesn’t deal with fixing the root cause. The root lives deep in your heart, and the social media scrolling simply diverts your attention from dealing with it. When I put the phone down, I was forced to face any current emotions head on, and make the conscious choice to deal with it, so it no longer impacted my mindset.
Remember, heart = mindset. Mindset = actions.
- We never stop to question our thoughts. Questioning our thoughts is truly the backbone of guarding your heart. And, it provides you POWER in your life. When you feel pain, suffering and anger toward someone or something, you are believing a story that is untrue. You are letting an emotion take root in your heart that will impact the way you treat people.
Here’s a great video that describes how we respond when someone cuts us off in traffic, and how quickly an emotion like anger infects our heart. Our initial reaction is to cuss, flip them off at a stoplight in front of our kids or attempt to seek revenge through a creative car chase. That emotion permeates our actions for hours, even days as it impacts the way we treat others.
When we have the mindfulness to stop and question our thoughts, that is the superhuman response that allows you to truly have power over your life – to guard your heart, to choose a mindset that focuses on success, happiness. Questioning our thoughts and stories eliminates the limiting beliefs that hold us back from achieving the results we really want in life.
Here’s a second challenge for you to take back the power of your heart and mind. Commit to a weekly yoga session. It has been proven that yoga and meditation help you take control of your present moments and improve your power to question your thinking. Visit www.omahawellnessdirectory.com for a listing of the best Omaha locations to try it out now.
Heart = Mindset. Mindset = Actions. Your choice in what to believe and let into your heart is your ultimate superpower.