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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Mindfulness for Heart Health

Celebrate Heart Health Awareness month with mindfulness, the simple, yet powerful practice of bringing kind and curious attention to what is happening here and now. Mindfulness can be thought of as a form of mental exercise that builds awareness, calm and resilience by training attention to rest with openness in this present moment rather than its typical focus on the past, the future or judgments about the present.

Research has shown that a regular mindfulness practice can yield a number of benefits, including having a positive impact on heart health. Studies have found that mindfulness-based interventions may moderately reduce blood pressure and contribute to improved heart rate variability, a measure of how quickly the heart makes small changes in the interval between each beat. Many experts recommend mindfulness as part of a heart disease prevention routine. There is even evidence that mindfulness practice can improve quality of life in people that suffer with existing heart disease and heart attack incidents.

The mechanisms for these heart-healthy benefits are thought to relate to the ability of mindfulness to reduce stress through activation of the parasympathetic, or rest-and-digest nervous system and to strengthen executive areas of the brain which help regulate anxiety and other challenging emotions.

In addition to directly influencing heart health, mindfulness can also jumpstart other healthy behaviors related to heart health such as supporting more balanced nutrition and proper eating, as well as encouraging intuitive movement and better sleep. Mindfulness is also linked to stronger relationships that support heart health and longevity.

Even a few minutes of practice per day can make a difference, and starting small is the best way to instill a new healthy habit. Here are three heart-healthy mindfulness practices to do in two minutes or less:

Breathe mindfully in a 4-7-8 pattern: Take a minute during a busy day to practice four rounds of the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, often called “relaxing breath”, by breathing in for four counts, holding the breath for seven counts and exhaling through pursed lips for eight counts. This practice can reduce anxiety, calm the nervous system and lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Take a 5-4-3-2-1 sensory brain break: Calm and ground the mind by bringing curious fresh eyes to our surroundings. Practicing the 5-4-3-2-1 technique will trigger a sensory treasure hunt to notice five things we can see, four we can hear, three we can touch, two we can smell, and one we can taste.

Practice random acts of lovingkindness: Boost heart health and cultivate compassion by sharing kindness with others around us. To practice a “random act of lovingkindness”, simply identify someone, recognize them as a fellow human being just like us and silently send them well wishes such as, “May you be well, may you be safe, may you be healthy.”

Dorsey Standish is the CEO of Mastermind, a Dallas-based corporate wellness firm. For more information, visit