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Under pressure?

Bharat Savur | Updated on November 03, 2012

BL_STOCK_HEART

A tender, loving heart can keep BP in rein.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, please don’t let fear consume you. Tell your family not to worry either. Fear and worry magnify things beyond proportion. Then, the body takes longer to heal. Take a few calming breaths and tell yourself, “I know this is temporary. And it will heal very soon because I’m allowing it to subside and become healthily balanced.” Besides, there are very effective medicines available today. They work faster than the older ones — in a matter of days as compared to months. It’s a good feeling to see the pressure dropping from 160/100 to 140/90 — and lower.

High blood pressure is an indicator that you’ve been travelling on a stressful route. If you say, “I’m not stressed”, it’s because you don’t know what relaxation is. There’s physical stress where you’re overweight, flabby, tired, an addict to tea and coffee, keeping late nights watching TV or partying. There’s mental stress where you hate your job and love only its perks and prestige, are in a rollercoaster relationship, want to do creative things but don’t have the time or resources, or just plain bored, feeling you are stagnating and getting nowhere.

Well, it’s time to take the right turn. It’s time to make lemonade out of lemons, turn drudgery into joy — make a life, not just a livelihood.

Making the right changes

The right turn is to follow the doctor’s prescription completely; no halfway house here. Keep your mind open and receptive, otherwise it will not hear what your ears hear. The doc’s ‘do’s’ are akin to a sage’s wisdom. He’ll prescribe a medicine. Take it. He’ll ask you to return in a week’s time. Return. He’ll advise you to relax. Relax. He’ll tell you to go for a walk daily. Walk daily. He’ll say, “Meditate.” Meditate.

Work towards making your whole life a meditation. You are already breathing, now breathe more consciously. Slow down your mind. There is no hurry if there is no emergency. Give your mind space and time to admire scenic beauty, otherwise it will see only dreary things. Look at the plants and see the sunshine in them — there can be no plants without sunshine. Inhale the coffee’s aroma before sipping it.

With your doctor’s consent, do stretching exercises. My blood pressure has been a consistent, healthy 110/60 ever since I started doing stretches with elastic terra bands. Here’s a how-to guide: Hold the ends and raise your arms above the head, then stretch the band sideways. Hold it like a bow and pull back like you’re about to shoot an arrow from it. Do from both sides. Hold the band behind your shoulders and stretch it. Do each exercise 10 times.

Increase your repetitions as you become fitter. Stretches calm the body and mind, and lower blood pressure. Don’t bunch up your muscles; stretch in a relaxed way, like a cat. Relaxed stretching also reduces those little inflammations that flare up in the body. You can stretch without terra bands too — reaching towards the ceiling with both hands, slow torso twists, sideways bends, each 20 to 30 times.

Keeping up the good work

You’ve negotiated the right turn successfully; now don’t turn back and retrace the stressful route. Don’t hoard your ‘offs’ — take all of them. You can’t postpone relaxation. The body and mind need peace. Leisure is not making hectic schedules or chasing visas to travel abroad and spend a frantic month sightseeing.

Leisure is being a nobody, needing nothing, doing nothing for hours, just being in the joyous vibrations of silence to find an undisturbed oasis amidst the disturbances of life. Sit by the sea, a lake, or river, on a mountain slope… Watch the waves, the sunshine on the ripples, a leaf floating, a line of ants straggling across a stone on the cool, moist soil… Thoughts will intrude — pay no heed. Pay attention to your inhalation, exhalation… Let your daily busy life recede. Chant your favourite mantra, sing your song to the trees, and feel your mind awash in freshness. The body will follow suit.

Now, follow this, your path of bliss, and move farther and farther away from high blood pressure. B-L-I-S-S is ‘Being Loving In Simple Serenity’. Show love to yourself first. Be gentle to your system.

No ungentle foods like sugar, oil, ghee, butter, salt, maida. Eat calming foods, kind foods — fruits such as apples, oranges, papaya, guava, mango, raspberry, strawberry, melon, plum, and peach; vegetables such as white pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, and cucumber.

Switch to cow’s or low-fat milk. Have 80 per cent vegetables and fruits and 20 per cent cereals, milk, pulses.

Avoid worrisome and tense situations. Socialise only with relaxed, good people, or choose solitude. Get a good night’s sleep. If you wake up too early — around 2 a.m. — don’t fret. Sit peacefully in your favourite nook. Then, when sleep beckons, go back to bed tranquilly. Another day is being silently, creatively, shaped for you to rise to in great health and good spirits.

The writer is author of the book Fitness for Life.

Published on November 01, 2012

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