Caring for the Heart–A “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective

It used to be that the topic of breathing was interesting mostly to followers of New-Age movements and Eastern-inspired thought systems. But in today’s Wall Street Journal, breathing was featured as a main article (Sumathi Reddy, “Breathing for Your Better Health,” 27 Jan 2015). According to the author, “slow, deep and consistent breathing has been shown to have benefits in treating conditions ranging from migraines and irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety disorders and pain.” In this article, I discuss breathing as part of “heart care”–that is, all those rituals and habits that we cultivate in order to take good care of the heart area of the body.

Heart at the Spring of Day

In the “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective we divide the day in four parts, as follows:

03:00 AM – 09:00 AM — Sping time of the day
09:00 AM – 03:00 PM — Summer time of the day
03:00 PM – 09:00 PM — Autumn time of the day
09:00 PM – 03:00 AM — Winter time of the day

We manage our seasons of the day as follows:

Spring: care of the heart;
Summer: care of the stomach;
Fall: care of the brain;
Winter: a time for unity

In this article, I focus especially on the care of the heart at the spring time of the day (3:00 AM – 9:00 AM). Controlled breathing is a big part of caring for the heart. Today’s “people of color” and the less developed regions of the globe play the role of “heart” in the world. Such is the role, for example of Africa and South America. It is no wonder that singing constitutes an important part of the culture of these parts of the world–both in Africa and in South America.

Contrast that with culture of North America and Europe, where “playing instruments” in a studied, methodical, and polished manner is such a strong part of the culture. Both singing and playing instruments will create sounds of music, but the person who sings will naturally tend to focus on breathing, but not necessarily the person who plays a musical instrument (e.g., piano and guitar).

Thus, those cultures who favor singing as opposed to playing musical instruments also favor controlled breathing, natural relaxation, and all the benefits that they entail. Another aspect of the culture of North America and Europe is that the people in those parts of the world tend to make extensive use of computers. According to the Wall Street Journal article, “research has found people working on computers often hold their breath, an action referred to as screen apnea.”

But to counteract this tendency, the author tells us that “a San Francisco technology startup recently launched a wearable device called Spire that tracks breathing patterns and tells users when they are too tense or anxious.” This is a way to use hi-tech to achieve goals that naturally come to those who practice meditation or breathing disciplines. The article author points out that people can use breathing coaches in order to “unlearn dysfunctional breathing habits,” but this “requires practice and exercises.”

In the “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective, we encourage people to engage in three rituals for healthful daily living: Every day dance; every day tell a joke; every day sing.” And singing will developed better breathing.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
January 27, 2015

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