Appreciation and the heart

Physical complaints disappear when a person falls in love.

Many years ago I began to date a young woman who had a breathing problem. As we fell in love we both remarked at how her breathing cleared. But then as the months passed her breathing returned to the way it had been before.

It turns out that physical complaints often disappear in the few weeks after someone falls in love. It may be temporary, but not always.

This column is about harnessing the healing power of the heart. Being in love involves the heart much more than at the metaphorical level.

Authors of self-help books often advise, “Follow your heart.” Very few of them actually explain how to do it or why it’s important, but clearly two people who have just fallen in love are following their hearts.

We have learned a lot in the last 30 years about the role the heart plays in emotional, spiritual and physical health. The heart does much more than pump blood.

With negative emotion and stress the heart still does the job of pumping blood, but instruments show patterns of incoherence in electrical output. Positive emotions such as appreciation, love and caring help your heart beat calmly in a more coherent pattern.

When heart rhythm is coherent, other bodily systems, including the brain, tend to fall into coherence.

So how do you follow your heart? To start with, when you are feeling stressed and overloaded, take a moment to get out of your head and drop into your heart by deliberately feeling one of the heart emotions of appreciation, love or caring. It helps if you can “breathe into your heart” as you feel the appreciation. Then hold that feeling for 15 or 20 seconds.

The first few times you try to feel appreciation or love you may need to go to a memory of a past situation where you felt intense appreciation. With a little practice you will be able to feel it at will. This little exercise of getting into your heart via a heart emotion has the effect on the heart of making its rhythm more coherent. Then when your brain falls into coherence with your heart, you experience greater clarity of thought and increased sense of well being. You have more energy and are more at peace.

However, the benefits don’t stop there. Besides the fact that your brain is functioning more efficiently, your immune system functions better and you have better hormonal balance.  Your digestive system works better and you have fewer aches and pains. In general your health is better.

So the old exhortation to follow your heart had meaning far more profound than most ever realized. To truly be in sync with your heart is to be in sync at all levels of your being, body, you mind and spirit. Acting from the heart is about being whole and being open to communication at all levels, not just at the head level.

And the key to harmony with the heart is appreciation.



You can reach Registered Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill at 250-752-8684 or through his website


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