02/12/2009 05:12 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Calm Your Heart and the Rest Will Follow

You can actually make your body systems function more efficiently by regularly taking a little 90 second break to focus on calming your heart. What goes on in our hearts affects our entire bodies. The heart's electromagnetic field far out-powers and out-ranges that of the brain or any other body system. Calming the heart calms the circulatory, nervous and respiratory systems, not to mention a host of others like the digestive and excretory tracts. If we're calm in our minds and emotions, our overall level of physical functioning is enhanced and improved. If we're frequently or chronically stressed or upset, our overall level of physical functioning is reduced. "Emotions such as tension, frustration, and sadness can trigger a drop in the blood supply to the heart," say Childre & Howard of Heartmath. When we're under stress, the body assumes its survival is threatened so it releases adrenaline into the bloodstream which in turn activates the body's fight or flight response. When this emergency response becomes chronic, that is if our stress response gets revved up too often throughout the day, the actual beating rhythm of our heart, our "heart rate variability" can become deregulated and chaotic which then throws off all of the body systems that the heart impacts.

Take a Heart Conscious Break
Because the heart is such an efficient organ, we can use it's effective and intelligent functioning in our favor if we are conscious about it. If we adopt strategies to calm our hearts, our whole body will calm down as well in a matter of seconds, not only will we reduce stress, we'll enhance healthy body functioning.
Activities like consciously relaxing, meditating or praying nourish and calm the heart and hence, the rest of us. These activities produce what's called, the relaxation response--a physiological state that is exactly the opposite of stress, a state that reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to the heart. Not only does this calming create feelings of peace and serenity in our minds, it creates them in our bodies as well. To experience the benefits of this "intentional heart focus," try the following next time you're feeling stressed:
• Take a break and mentally disengage from the situation.
• Bring your attention to the area of your heart.
• Meditate or ponder for a moment on those kinds of thoughts and feelings that make you feel calm, peaceful and relaxed or recall an experience in which you felt those feelings and "go there in your head".
• Re-experience these feelings while keeping your attention on your heart. Let your breathing be relaxed and regular.

This little 90 second to 3 minute break done throughout the day can actually keep you healthy as well as happy. Don't let stress build, the more you consciously focus positive feelings and relaxation on your heart the more you'll strengthen and expand a reservoir of peace and calm within you. While you're eating your omega 3's, olive oil and veggies, don't ignore your heart, conscious calming is heart smart living, too.