This morning before I headed out the door, I donned a red shirt and red socks. It goes beyond liking the vibrant, energizing, fire-y color and stands as a symbol of something vital. Today is National Wear Red Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association. The purpose is to bring about awareness around the issue of heart disease in women in particular. The symptoms of a heart attack present differently for women than for men. Sweating, pressure, nausea, indigestion and jaw pain are common warning signs for women. Often they ignore them, for several reasons; perhaps because they don’t know what to look for and also likely because women tend to keep on keepin’ on, putting others before them. Such was the case with my sister who had many risk factors AND she ignored both the internal prompting and the external haranguing of people who love her. She waited 4 1/2 hours following the onset of symptoms before she called 911.
I am facing the reality that my sister had a heart attack last week and I have been riding a roller coaster ride with her as we speak a few times daily to get updates on her progress. Today brought more complications and required another cardiac catheterization. What it evidenced was something that should respond to medication. I am amply aware of the medical circumstances, but even more so, the psycho-spritual implications. The heart is far more than simply a pump or muscle. In many traditions, it is the seat of the soul. It is where we locate our deepest emotions and longings and we use metaphors such as being ‘open hearted’, ‘closed hearted’, ‘big hearted’ or ‘broken hearted.’
Not coincidentally, I took a CPR/First Aid class today that is a requirement for my job. In it, we were reminded about the absolute neccesity to act quickly when if cardiac crisis arises. The lively, animated instructor had us laughing and smiling about the miracles he has either heard about or witnessed with regard to immediate and persistent response. He shared a story about a doctor who rescued a 17 year old from a hotel pool and began CPR immediately. A nurse who happened to be at the hotel, ran up and asked to assist. He sent her to call 911 instead. He kept it going for 15 minutes; likely exhausted, but his adrenalin probably kicked in and allowed what could be considered a superhuman feat. The ambulance arrived, took the young man to a local hospital where he remained in a coma. One day, the doctor came to visit him and he miraculously came to and asked for breakfast. He was astounded and realized he had participated in a miracle. Our instructor liked to share the story and in a training shortly aftwerward, he had another eye opening experience, as a woman in the class raised her hand and announced “I was the nurse.”
If you were to have a dialog with your heart, what would you say? How would you respond? I would ask mine, what it is that it wants. What arises is the answer “Expansiveness. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Trust. Allowing. Surrendering. Slowing down.” All of these things would assist in calling in my deepest heart dreams and desires and help me to connect heart to heart.
www.goredforwomen.org To learn more about heart health.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwT1L-FSzEo Heart of Gold-Neil Young