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Kathi Casey
The Healthy Boomer Body Expert

Kathi is an author, coach, popular speaker and talk radio show guest, writes monthly columns for the South Shore Senior News, Life After 50, Boomers Forever and Retirement Living Magazines, produces her own TV show called To Your Health" in the Berkshires and owns the Healthy Boomer Body Studio in Otis, MA. Her programs combine good fun and humor with simple yet powerful techniques that fit easily into busy schedules.

Is Valentine's Day One Of The Causes Of Heart Disease?

February is American Heart Month. Once again the shops are filled with boxes of milk chocolates shaped like hearts, the bakeries have red velvet cakes shaped like hearts in the windows, and restaurants are advertising special Valentine dinners that include red cheesecake deserts. I'm struck once again by the dichotomy of this month.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the US. And all of the above treats and goodies that are so closely linked with the month of February are bad for our hearts…

February is also National Grapefruit Month – bet you didn't know that one! Grapefruits are much healthier than milk chocolate and cheesecake. Perhaps the grapefruit growers should hire a better PR firm to get them some national publicity. Maybe they can advertise ruby red grapefruit halves cut into heart shapes!

OK, I'll stop the rant now. Timing is right for a few heart healthy tips though, so here you go!

Stress is inevitable in today's fast paced world. And while we can't avoid stress, we can surely change our reaction to it, which will not only improve our heart health, but also our mood.

The best way to beat stress is through a daily meditation practice. According to best-selling author and renowned therapist Dr. Brian Weiss, “Meditation makes our minds more sensitive to what's truly important.”

Now don't be afraid of the M word. Meditation doesn't mean that you have to sit for an hour with your legs in a pretzel shape and a completely blank mind. There are many ways to meditate. Let me list a few:

•  Sit or lie down for ten minutes and count your breath backwards from 57.

•  You can do a walking meditation. This consists of a slow, mindful walk where you focus your attention on placing each foot down directly in front of you and roll your foot from heel to toe. It's not an arm swinging, calorie burning, aerobic walk, but a slow walk with focus and concentration on the steps. Think of it as a sort of walking Tai Chi. It's more fun out in nature than on Main Street, but it can be done anywhere. I have done it on a sidewalk, and others joined in; after several minutes we looked like a procession or parade. It was great!

•  There are plenty of guided meditation recordings on the market. You can find them in all different lengths and styles. Most stores today let you listen to a sample track or two so you can test a few out and find one that you enjoy.

•  Another trick you could try is to repeat a “mantra” or a phrase that appeals to you, over and over, and think only of your phrase. For instance, you could repeat “peace” or “I'm safe” or “relax” or “I feel great” or “beauty”. As thoughts try to creep into your mind, watch them come in and watch them go out. Try not to become engaged. After a while of practicing this, it becomes easier and easier.

•  Visualization is another good meditative technique – especially if you have a dream or a goal you're trying to reach. For instance, if you dream of owning a sailboat, you can close your eyes for ten minutes and visualize yourself sailing from Block Island to Martha's Vineyard (or anywhere else you fancy). Feel the wind blowing your hair and see the waves rocking your boat up and down and up and down… Imagine that dolphins join you for part of the trip or that you pass a large cruise ship and wave at the people on deck. See yourself heading toward Edgartown Harbor, or anchoring in a little cove and jumping in the water. You get the idea. Your ten minutes will be up in no time and you'll feel so much better!

Meditation is a way to clear and calm your mind. When your mind is clear, concentration improves, and you'll be surprised at how much more you actually get done on that to-do list! Taking ten minutes a day to meditate will prove well worth your effort and you'll more than make up those ten minutes with increased productivity. When you are calm and collected, unexpected stressful situations don't make you nearly as anxious as they once did.

I recommend starting a new practice of meditating for ten minutes each day this month and by March, it will be a habit, and you'll have far fewer stress hormones running around in your body!

For all of my readers, here is a link to an mp3 download of my favorite ten minute guided meditation – Enjoy!

Best of Health,

Kathi

 

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