Ah, the heart. Though considered the engine that runs the body, it’s metaphorically the very center of a person’s concept of themselves. It’s as if that’s where soul, intelligence, courage, emotion, and intention are found. It’s the “place” from which we love.
The heart is more than just a vital organ; it also represents spiritual character.
In the Bible and other religious texts, the heart expresses mental and spiritual attributes. Jesus said:
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matt 5:8)
Does the process of purifying our heart so that we can see God also change how we see ourselves and others? You bet. And, what proceeds from that process might give us a clue about how to keep the heart healthy.
Medical science has gone to great lengths to find ways to maintain heart health. The problem is that research, experts’ theories and outcomes aren’t always consistent, especially over periods of time.
In a recent change, guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology suggest that cholesterol numbers – touted for years as the key to heart health – are, in fact, not a good determinant of the risk of heart disease. They suggest that, rather than focusing on physical statistics, it is the whole person that matters – how we think and feel, and our lifestyle.
Current wisdom has described a three-legged stool for heart health: don’t smoke, eat healthy, and get moderate exercise.
But I’m thinking that there’s a very important fourth leg of the stool and that’s what comes from “within the heart.”
Many doctors agree that negative emotions and stress are hard on the heart. But positive attributes like helping others, being “light hearted” and fun loving make for a healthy heart. For example, loving your spouse is more likely, according to research, to give your heart a stronger and longer life.
Some go even farther and suggest that connecting with the Divine can cause a “change of heart” that has powerful health benefits. Mary Baker Eddy, a prominent 20th century healer puts it this way:
“…there must be a change from human affections, desires, and aims, to the divine standard, … This change of heart would deliver man from heart-disease, and advance Christianity a hundredfold.” (Miscellaneous Writings, 50)
The divine standard of loving and giving selflessly is the essential, unchanging ingredient to a healthy heart.