As they prepped me for surgery, I watched the frenzy going on around me. I saw the anguish in my wife’s eyes but was not sure why. My brain could not comprehend even the simplest of questions asked of me during my evaluation, yet right before I was given the anesthetic that would send me into what could have been my final sleep, a sense of clarity and peace washed over me. I prayed to God that I trusted that my life was in His hands and if my time was up, then I look forward to being in His presence. God had other plans for me.
Not only did His plans include a miraculous recovery from a massive stroke but, two years later, He inspired me to write Optimize Your Heart as a practical guide to help others lower their risk for a heart attack or stroke. Those that know me well know that I am a faithful, albeit imperfect, follower of Christ. They also know that I am not the kind that will beat non-believers over the head with a Bible but instead follow Christ’s greatest of commandments:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
With that in mind, Optimize Your Heart is not written in a way that a non-believer should fear. I don’t have to continually quote scripture in order for you to see the miracle God has performed in my life. Yet, in the chapter about the importance of reducing stress, prayer and meditation is something that, anecdotally, many have found to be beneficial, but is also backed by science.
Prayer & Meditation – Spending time with God, or with your inner self, is a great way to block out the stress in your life and find peace. Prayer was the most important part of my stroke recovery and is key to Lisa O’Rear’s heart health, too. “Prayer and a relationship with God is what keeps me going,” explains O’Rear. “I survived my stroke because God is merciful and gracious. I do my best to cast all my doubts, worries, and fears upon Him.”
Heart health benefits also come from using meditation to help clear your mind at times of stress. A meta-analysis study led by Maxwell V. Rainforth, Ph.D. in 2007 found that meditation helped reduce stress, blood pressure, and lowered the risk of cardiovascular death by 30 percent.
The next time you feel your stress levels rise, find a quiet place, find a quiet voice, have a quiet conversation, and find a little peace.
P.S. When deciding to write today’s post I grabbed my own copy of Optimize Your Heart and opened it to a random page. Not so random, as the selected page was about prayer and meditation. 🙏🏻