“The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system, with a network of vessels taking blood around the body. Oxygen and other essential nutrients are taken to every cell via the arteries, while de-oxygenated blood is carried back in the veins. The heart is the center of this system, and its symbolic relationship to love is deeply entrenched in our collective psyche. That the heart represents love is the one part of the bodymind we all, univerally agreed upon. The blood represents the circulation of that love, the giving and receiving seen in the constant flow to and from the heart.”
HOW THE HEART WORKS
The heart is no bigger than your fist but powerful enough to squeeze itself at about 75 times each minute. It works like a pair of pumps……each having its own chamber. The lower chamber called the ventricles, does most of the pumping. Above each one is an atrium which works to temporarily store the blood. There are also one-way valves at the exit from each atrium and ventricle which stops the blood from flowing backward. Amazing!
The heart is covered by bags of protection called the pericardium. It is a multilayered sac filled with slippery pericardial fluid which prevents the heart from bursting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericardium
The muscle wall of the heart is called the myocardium. There is no other muscle like it in the body. If it was left to beat on its own without the input of our brain it would beat at about a 100 beats a minute! It is our nerve impulses which actually slows it down to about 75 beats a minute or speeds it up depending on our emotional state at the time.
At the start of every cycle of the heartbeat, the muscles relax momentarily……blood pours into the right atrium. As the atrium contracts the valve known as the tricuspid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricuspid_valve
opens and blood surges into the right ventricle. Blood vessels channel the blood around….the arteries carry blood out from the heart and it is our veins that return the blood to the heart.
It takes about 6 heartbeats for the blood to go all around the lungs and return to the heart. When the heart muscles relax, blood, rich in oxygen from the lungs whooshes into the left atrium. Blood gushes down from the atrium through the mitral (bisuspid) valve and into the left ventricle. While all this is going on the right atrium squeezes a bit before its partner on the left. When both atria squeeze they force blood down into both ventricles….the mitral valve closes and the left ventricle contracts. This forces blood up and out through the aortic valve into the aorta.
The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. As blood enters the aorta from the heart, it starts a pressure wave along the arteries. This wave is seen as a pulse and travels faster then the blood……arriving at the wrist in about a 10th of a second!!! It is the arterial pulse a doctor or nurse feels at the wrist and can also be felt in other areas of the body too…eg., the neck, the the pelvis, the knee, etc.
YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
‘Normal blood pressure’ is about 120/80. Blood presses against the walls of the blood vessels and reaches a maximum at the aorta but is lower in the arteries and lower still in capillaries and veins. To check your blood pressure, a physician inflates a cuff around your upper arm and slowly releases the compression until he/she can hear the blood pumping through the blood vessel. When the sound is first heard, it is recorded as systolic pressure. As the cuff continues to deflate the sound fades away until it is no longer heard. The reading at this point is called the diastolic pressure. The systolic reflects the greatest amount of pressure in the blood vessel and the distolic represents the least amount of pressure which happens during the resting phase of the heartbeat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_pressure
So, the pumping action of the heart is one of contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole) and as we have learnt is followed by a brief interval. It thrives on motion and demands stimulation. That’s why it is important to exercise, walk, swim, dance, etc. We need to have enough physical activity every day to increase our rate above its normal 68-75 beats per minute. Many have told that a good exercise routine that raises our pulse rate to above 120 beats per minute is important to keep the heart muscle strong and keep fat from from building up into the heart muscle and hindering its operation. When we don’t exercise our heart loses its ‘tone’. A normal heart rhythm also requires the balance of calcium, sodium and potassium in the blood and tissues.
This is one of several topics related to the heart and how it is affected by our emotions, anxieties, stress, weight gain and diet and exercise. In this section we will learn how this muscular organ continually beats and circulates blood around and through our bodies. The chapters following will focus on the heart chakra, the thymus gland, the astrological sign associated to it, the psychological causes of heart disease, high blood pressure and much much more.
It is truly a miracle how a bunch of cells somehow come together and start the first organ of the body, the heart to start beating. I still remember the ultrasound with my first child and watching in awe the pulsing light on the computer screen. I am sure this experience was one of the many motivations that lead and connected me to the path of healing.
Also, my first child was born with a hole in his heart which prompted me to seek out, comprehend and understand why this happened. My father as well suffered heart problems which started in 1941; he not only suffered a heart attack in the armed forces but while in a military hospital contracted scarlett/rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever damaged the valves of his heart, affected his nervous and immune system as well as causing arthritis in his joints. (When the heart valve becomes deformed by inflammations as in rheumatic fever, the blood may leak through them in the wrong direction!) Through all this and much more, he lived to the age of 83. My dad believed commitment and responsibility are the first steps in taking control of one’s life. The 2nd step is being optimistic and confident that we can beat back any disease and live a normal life.
The Heart chakra is where you begin the journey of converting your raw emotions from the 2nd chakra……self awareness from the the 3rd chakra and converting these gut-level emotions, tenderly and vulnerably into ‘how I truly feel’. So easy to say, so hard to do. (more on this later)