There can many advantages for mind, body and soul to being able to calm oneself to be more present and aware when trying to notice opportunities previously overlooked. Much of the guidance on meditation starts with focusing on the breath. I found it to be more effective to focus on the heart in a way where there is direct feedback. Also, a key to consciously changing your heart rate is to adjust your breathing.
After the Pacific pile drove me into the bottom of the ocean breaking 5 vertebrae, one shoulder, one collar bone and one rib, there was little for me to do other than lie in the hospital bed and try not to move hour upon hour, day after day. On the nightstand I could see the SpO2 monitor which showed me my heart rate and oxygen. I remembered my Tai Chi / Qi Gong Master, Lee Holden, had talked about consciously lowering one’s heart rate. So, for lack of anything else to do, I worked on keeping the oxygen at 90% while lowering my heart rate to 40. This also proved to be a great way for me to remove myself from the pain.
Since then, I have leveraged this ability to settle my breathing and heart-rate by settling my mind because it brings me into a state of tremendous inner peace and tranquility while also seeming to open me to a greater awareness – strange as that may sound. The direct feedback loop of having an SpO2 meter help greatly in trying yourself to influence your heart rate and breathing.
I later discovered an article in Scientific American: Psychology beyond the Brain, of all places, that speaks to insights into how managing your heart rate has a surprising influence on our abilities:
“Psychology’s recognition of the body’s influence on the mind coincides with a recent focus on the role of the heart in our social psychology. It turns out that the heart is not only critical for survival, but also for how people related to one another. In particular, heart rate variability (HRV), variation in the heart’s beat-to-beat interval, plays a key role in social behaviors ranging from decision-making, regulating one’s emotions, coping with stress, and even academic engagement. Decreased HRV appears to be related to depression and autism and may be linked to thinking about information deliberately. Increased HRV, on the other hand, is associated with greater social skills such as recognizing other people’s emotions and helps people cope with socially stressful situations, such as thinking about giving a public speech or being evaluated by someone of another race.”
The feedback loop enabled by an SpO2 meter helps in training yourself to control your heart rate and you will discover a keep part of that is slow, steady, deep breathing. There’s an interesting, article Neuroscientists have identified how exactly a deep breath changes your mind that speaks to how breathing impact brain function…
“Simply put, changes in breathing—for example, breathing at different paces or paying careful attention to the breaths—were shown to engage different parts of the brain…
..The findings provide neural support for advice individuals have been given for millennia: during times of stress, or when heightened concentration is needed, focusing on one’s breathing or doing breathing exercises can indeed change the brain. This has potential application to individuals in a variety of professions that require extreme focus and agility.”
Tai Chi / Qi Gong also solves for a healthier mind, body and soul through mind/body practices…
- Scientific Benefits of Meditation – 76 Things You Might Be Missing Out On
- Scientific American: Psychology beyond the Brain – What scientists are discovering by measuring the beating of the heart
- Quartzy: Neuroscientists have identified how exactly a deep breath changes your mind
- Neuroscience Has a Lot To Learn from Buddhism
- Scientific American: Mind of the Meditator
- Research on meditation
- Breathing for Life: The Mind-Body Healing Benefits of Pranayama
- More Calm & Less Stress Discover For Yourself Why Millions Enjoy Qi Gong
- A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi
- Mayo Clinic – Massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being. See if it’s right for you
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – Massage Therapy for Health Purposes