Hmm…was my general reaction to the Fourfold Path to Healing’s chapter on heart disease. Hmm, as in that’s an interesting take. I read/research what seems to be non-stop, what tends to be challenging is deciphering what to take and believe is true. Health, in particular seems to have so many conflicting viewpoints (mostly because evolving science, plus the drug and food companies fund the research studies that are seen by the public, plus people there are so many variables to take into consideration and the body is really a complex mystery). I do like a challenge and I love to learn, so going into any new book or idea I try to keep an open mind- allowing myself to see what the author is trying to convey. Seeing as I tend to be quite (or extremely) free thinking, this is easier. I really found this chapter captivating, contradicting much of the things I’ve been conventionally taught in school, but captivating all the same. The book is definitely more of a homeopathic solution to health, which I like as I’m not very fond of modern medicine. As I pointed out to Dr. Sharifi last night, these kind of treatments (notably ancient Chinese medicine) are still seen today (and I actually think they’re on the rise, or maybe I’m more aware of their presence than before or maybe they really speak to the kind of person I am). With this in mind, I am going to now get rid of my opinion and provide you with the information of the chapter, but I would like you to keep one thing in mind: keep an open mind and then decide what you believe. Take it all or take bits, but find what works for you, as with all health and life in general. Now as I am also very in rapture with poetry at the moment, I will present the poem that Cowan provides by E.E. Cummings:
Cowan’s first task is to take on our currently taught conditioned thinking that the heart is a pump. He goes into a lengthy explanation of this, but part of my job is to simplify and take away key notes, so here is what you need to know:
The heart is more comparable to a dam, holding blood until it’s time for the ‘gates’ to open and blood to be dispersed to the rest of the body. A hydraulic ram, rather than a pump, would be a more fitting description. Pumping is then initiated by the energy of the water.
If we believe this, then Cowan points out, the heart actually has little work to do except openning these gates. That explains how it is able to do it routinely day-in-and-day-out for our entire lifespan. Next concept that Cowan presents is that the heart is a listener (this I found rather interesting, and part of that may be because we’re getting ready to look at some of my new peaked fascination with mythology). That the heart takes notes and catalogs what’s in the blood, responding by calling forward the appropriate hormones to maintain homeostasis. Steiner (Rudolf Steiner is a big contributor to this chapter and the pumping notion), thought that the heart actually senses and integrates thoughts and emotions. Bring on the mythology: poets have long believed Earth is the center of the universe, correlating with the heart that rests between Venus (venous system) and Mars (arterial system). These two systems are named after the symbols for female and male impulses. That means the heart is the mediator between our male and female aspects. Cowan says, ‘The heart has the monumental task, acting as a kind of tireless therapist- integrating, sorting and processing all of our impressions, trying to create harmony and rhythm out of all that happens in our lives.’ I am aware that this may be a stretch of the imagination, but keep that open mind, because I think it’s cool regardless if its the truth.
Next up we begin to examine who is the circular problem child. For this we have to point the finger at osmotic pressure, because it is our ‘pump’. Differences in water pressure (gradient) from artery to vein in what allows that ‘pump’. To move blood, we need to then increase the gradient. How can this be done? Cowan points out water liberation: 10 grams of proteins releases 4 grams of water, 10 grams of carbs releases 6 grams of water, and lastly 10 grams of fat releases 10 grams of water. Do you see the possible problem we face? Ah, that’s right, we live in a country that has demonized fat the last 40 years (like we needed another reason to see how royally we screwed up). That’s why those traditional societies that were grubbing on so much fat (Swiss, Inuit, African cattle herders, etc) had some of the healthiest heart system. Cowan, then suggests that a whopping 80% of caloric intake should come from fats (notably saturated-you know our friends coconut and butterfat). This really got my attention: how to know if you’re getting too little or too much fat. General signs of fat insufficiency is coldness (as fat warms the body), cravings, poor circulation, dryness, or even tiredness. A sign of too much fat would be nausea (if you experience with eat more bitters and fermented foods). So get the ideal amount of fat, and consistent walking, and you’re on the path to a better heart. Let’s us know look at the 4 arenas (food, therapeutics, movement and meditation):
- Food: Of course as we’ve already discussed increase dietary fat. Honorary fats include: mostly animal fats, olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. And for goodness sakes stay away from the crap the government heedlessly promote: polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Of course you’ll also want to stay away form processed foods that you don’t even know what are them and theat take away from optimum health. Liver will provide B12, bone broths for calcium, leafy greens for magnesium, and raw animal foods for B6. Oh and don’t forget your cod liver oil.
- Therapeutics: get the book
- Movement: the heart is central to your three planes. Individuals that struggle with their heart system tend to hold on to things. Let it go and practice movements that open you up. Exercise can mimic the heart’s rhythm, so stick to the swimming, dancing and walking in moderation. Sorry chronic cardio lovers, but jogging and running don’t really fall into this, and can actually be detrimental to individuals that have serious cases.
- Meditation: keep it simply and literally follow your heart.
Next week continue onward with diabetes, tomorrow we’ll look at mistletoe.