Help Your Heart by Don Colbert, MD
Every Sunday morning I receive a weekly devotional email from LIFE Today. I eagerly anticipate these weekly devotionals, as they often offer profound words of wisdom and encouragement, or stories from those who have faced adversity that I can learn from and apply in my own life. This week’s devotional from Dr. Don Colbert on the power our thoughts can have on our health was so profound that I wanted to share it. Always remember to do your best to stay positive even in the most difficult of times. As Dr. Charles Stanley likes to say “Trust God and leave ALL the consequences to Him.”
Reframing your thoughts can have a very real effect on your body, beginning with your heart. The heart, unlike your other major organs, has an extensive communications system with the brain and exerts a unique and far-reaching influence on your emotions and body. The heart is much more than a pump; it also functions as a hormonal gland, a sensory organ, and an information-encoding and -processing center. The heart also contains approximately forty thousand neurons or nerve cells. With every beat, the heart transmits complex patterns of neurological, hormonal, pressure, and electromagnetic information to the brain and throughout the body that play a major part in determining your emotions or how you feel.
Your heartbeat is not monotonously regular, but it varies from moment to moment. Heart rate variability is the measure of the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate as the heart speeds up and slows down in different patterns. These changes are especially influenced by a person’s emotions and attitudes. When you experience stress and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, and anxiety, your heart rate variability pattern becomes more erratic and disordered, and it sends chaotic signals to the brain. This causes your system to get “out of sync.” The result is excessive stress with toxic emotions, energy drain, and added wear and tear on your mind and body. In contrast, sustained positive emotions such as appreciation, love, joy, and compassion, are associated with highly ordered patterns on the heart rate variability tracing and a significant reduction of stress.
In other words, toxic emotions such as anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, grief, and depression create excessive stress, whereas positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, love, and peace actually relieve stress. This can now be measured by an instrument called “heart rate variability.”
The heart has a magnetic field that is approximately five thousand times stronger than the brain and an electrical field that is forty to sixty times stronger than the brain. To illustrate this point, consider this story.
Christian Huygens was a seventeenth-century clockmaker who invented the pendulum clock. One night, while lying in bed admiring his clock collection, he noticed that all his pendulum clocks were swinging in unison with one another. He knew he didn’t set them that way, so he got out of bed and reset all the pendulums so that they were all out of sync with one another. However, after a short period of time all the pendulum clocks were back swinging in unison with one another. He never understood why. Years later it was discovered that the large clock with the strongest rhythm was able to pull all other nearby pendulums in sync with itself. This is called entrainment.
The largest clock pendulum with the strongest rhythm pulls all the nearby pendulums in sync with itself. The heart, by practicing gratitude and thanksgiving, is able, with its powerful magnetic field five thousand times stronger than the brain, to hijack the very thoughts of the brain and bring them into the pendulum motion of gratitude instead of the brain’s programmed emotions of fear, worry, anger, bitterness, grief, depression, and so on. That is why Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life. If we keep gratitude, peace, joy, and love in our heart, then it is able to control the brain, and gratitude, peace, joy, and love will flow out of our mouths.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Don Colbert’s book “The 7 Pillars of Health.”