Heartful of Love

Originally written and posted on huffingtonpost.com


“The heart is considered the emperor of a person’s life, setting the intentions and tone that organize the body’s functions, says Westchester, NY-based classical Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Charmaine Oakley, explaining that the energy of the heart center is called Shen, and that energy affects every organ in our body, from the brain to the liver.

She continues: “You could think of strong Shen as the clear and loving expression of a person’s unique way of being in the world. Health depends on Shen reaching into all areas of our body and mind, even ones we’d like to ignore. You could say that the emperor heart is both the creator and conductor of a person’s life symphony. We need all our instruments participating under the guidance of our Shen.”

We’ll soon be hearing a lot about the heart. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. February is also “Go Red For Women” month, so we’ll be hearing from the medical experts.

We all know heart health relies on healthy eating and lifestyle habits, such as getting more exercise, increasing uninterrupted sleep, stopping smoking and not drinking to excess, but we also need to be mindful that wellness isn’t just about the physical.

When one part of your life is out of balance, the whole body is affected. Just as there are many types of wellness, there are many “feel-good” ways for your heart to benefit from a bit more lovin’!


Have you ever experienced physical or emotional responses to music, such as a jolt of energy or a sharp breath or even becoming misty-eyed when someone strikes a musical note? That’s the heart sending you a message, most likely one of love.

Music calms, excites, soothes, heals and creates a sense of overall well being.

Albert Einstein was widely known as a brilliant theoretical physicist, but many also knew him as a violinist, and he used to talk about the strong connection between music, mathematics and science. One of his well-known quotes is: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician,” he said. “ I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

According to a report by Harvard Health, both our brains and nervous systems are able to distinguish music from noise. We sing, hum, sway, dance and bounce, and it provides peace and happiness and stress reduction. Science has pointed toward music improving cognitive ability because musicians have been found to have highly developed mathematical abilities

You certainly don’t have to be a physician to know that music affects the heart and circulation. In fact, a few years ago some recent heart attack patients in Wisconsin—all of whom were still in the Intensive Care Unit—were given music, and it was found that as soon as it began, heart rates and breathing rates started to drop to optimal levels.

This is understood by Byron Metcalf, who has been a professional drummer since he was 15. Today he is not only a drummer but also a percussionist and recording engineer with a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology. Byron combines five decades of music experience with various healing arts, inner exploration, breathwork, shamanic journey work, body-oriented therapies and meditation. His latest music collaboration, They Were Here, is inspired by America’s wild horses, combining their beauty with his tribal-shamanic drumming and the powerful vocals of shamanic practitioner, Jennifer Grais. As fate would have it, Jennifer’s own beloved horse, Solo, was in the process of transitioning from this life during the recording process, which seems to be captured in the heart-expanding music.

Byron shares, “Once we began working on final mixes, it occurred to us that the achingly beautiful performance on the track – which we eventually titled “Song for Solo” — had an emotional quality that resonated with Jennifer’s love for Solo and her grief related to losing him. At that point, and after we decided to name the song, the song itself began to take on the role of supporting Jennifer’s healing in a more profound way when Solo crossed over. “

Many have said that horses have big, beautiful, generous hearts and, as a spirit animal, the horse represents our instinctive life force, with power, wildness and the freedom we all crave. The musical interpretation is a combination of power and potency, especially as we witness the heart-wrenching fate of today’s wild Mustangs. They Were Here is a touching, rhythmic and highly-spiritual sound healing and tribute.


1. You Gotta Have Friends. Bette Midler made the song famous, crooning:

“And I am all alone. There is no one here beside me. And my problems have all gone. There is no one to deride me.

But you got to have friends the feeling’s oh so strong. You got to have friends to make the day last long…”

For years, scientists have been studying the link between social isolation and increased risk for death. Now a recent study by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) show changes in heart rate variability among people experiencing the stress of loneliness.

Go Red For Women, from the American Heart Association has linked dementia and heart disease.

2. Boost that “Love Hormone.” Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone or cuddle hormone” and we want a lot of it. You don’t need to go for any injections or pills because it’s totally free and natural. All you need to do is spend time around flowers or plants, pet animals, play with kids—or just do whatever makes you happy and raises your vibration, because everything, including us, is made up of energy.

While cortisol is good in small doses—preparing us for a big test or some major event—it can get out of balance and also result in stress, sleeplessness, negative thinking and all the things we don’t want. Oxytocin is a powerful neurotransmitter that reduces cortisol, stabilizes moods and gives you an overall feeling of well being. It’s sometimes even called the “trust hormone,” so any social anxiety is alleviated which, as you may remember, has been linked to heart rate variations.

3. Find Your Life’s Purpose. No one knows about this better than Patrice Tanaka. A happy brain makes you healthier, smarter and more productive. That makes for a fit heart. Throughout her career, Patrice co-founded three award-winning PR agencies, led her fellow shareholders through mergers; was caregiver to her seriously ill husband for 17 years, and was deeply affected by the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City.

Simply put, “I was fried,” she said.

Today she is “Chief Joy Officer” of Joyful Planet, a consultancy focused on helping individuals and organizations discover and actively live their purpose to unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their lives, their businesses and their communities.

So how did this “all work and no play,” Type A Driver personality end up as a Chief Joy Officer?

Simply, when she was burned out, she went to see an executive coach who asked her to rethink her purpose in life, and what brought her joy. “Dancing,” she answered instantly and both her personal and professional life transformed.

Patrice explains it in her book, Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me A Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO.

Here’s a take-away from her book: One of Patrice’s dance teachers, Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine, told her “Focus on the present step, and do it full-out and fearlessly, because your present step is what’s going to produce the next step or your future. That’s a nice variation on something we often hear, “put one foot in front of the other until you reach the Land of Milk and Honey.”

Sometimes we focus so much on our worries or past mistakes we aren’t really concentrating on the present, creating stress, anxiety that can even lead to social isolation—all recipes for lack of heart health. It’s not all about balance but, rather alignment. Often, we group all of our functions together and work hard to balance them so nothing falls. Each part of your life should be working to support the other—just like dancing—so you can remain present while moving towards your goal.

4. Stick To Time Management And Say No When You Have To. Isn’t it funny how we can be swayed when someone insists we do something immediately, even if it doesn’t seem all that urgent to us? Of course, some things will always be urgent, such as when your boss calls for a sudden meeting or when some bill needs to get paid. But if you constantly give in, such as answering every phone call immediately or responding to an email the minute it comes in, you’re going to be stressed, anxious, and your heart will probably flutter.

5. Smile. Sounds simple enough, right? Every single one of us has also heard the old cliche, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but smiling boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure, helps us build better friendships, decreases stress, relaxes the body and might even help relieve pain. The Mayo Clinic also says smiling is associated with positive emotions—and that can make for a longer life.

So start 2018 in good health, and with a little bit more music, hugs and laughter to give your heart the love it needs to stay healthy and open! As we move toward Valentine’s Day, you can find just the sound your heart desires in heart-focused releases from conscious musicians. It could be the musical love story in Kiss the Quiet by Michael Whalen, the soaring soulfulness of AONKI: Gateway of Love by Anaya Music, or, a more relaxed groove with After the Rain by Neil Tatar.

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