Your Relationship With Your Heart
Your heart is a muscle located in your chest between the right and left lungs. The heart, in the state of contraction, is about the size and shape of your hand when made into a fist. Your heart is held in place by the pericardium — a sac of fibrous tissue — and by its attachment to the great vessels, which carry blood to and from the lungs and the body. The most amazing fact about the heart is that it never ceases to contract and relax as long as you live.
All the blood in your body passes through your heart every sixty seconds. The heart is divided into four chambers, two light-weight chambers above and two heavily-muscled chambers below. The function of the light-weight chambers, called "atria," is to pump blood into the heavy chambers and the function of the heavy chambers, called "ventricles," is to pump blood on to the lungs and to the body.
Imagine yourself to be a red blood cell. You are loaded with hemoglobin, a complex protein carrying an atom of iron in such a way that each hemoglobin molecule can bind oxygen with iron and release the oxygen to the cells of your body, all of which run on oxygen.
As a red blood cell, you contain one million hemoglobin molecules. You have just completed discharging your oxygen to some cells in need and this oxygen has made its way through the capillary wall. You have done your job, and you are pooped. You need a vacation.
The pressure from the heart, now far upstream, as well as the movement of your body pushes you through tiny vessels called "capillaries," which are thinner than you are wide. To pass through, you have to fold backward into the shape of a parachute.
Once through the capillaries, you enter the slow moving venous system. In this system you have nothing to do, so you take a little rest. This rest lasts about thirty seconds and then you find yourself in the first chamber of the heart, the light-weight right atrium. The right atrium heaves you into the right ventricle, and from there, on the next beat of the heart, you are blasted into the lungs. In the lungs, you encounter a massive amount of fresh oxygen. Your hemoglobin eats an enormous amount of oxygen, and suddenly you feel great — all fatigue has disappeared.
Now you find yourself in the left atrium, which quickly shoves you into the massive, powerful left ventricle. From here, you are rocketed out the aorta, a hose-sized artery looping behind the heart and feeding both the upper and lower parts of the body with fresh blood.
And that is what you are now — fresh blood — brimming with oxygen. Soon you find yourself surrounded by cells which need oxygen. You discharge your payload and take a rest in the venous system for a leisurely ride back to the heart.
This is hard work, but you are a sturdy red blood cell built to last, and you are able to last four months before you burst with fatigue. During that four months, you will have traveled much further than the best made automobile can travel before it falls apart. When you finally die, you release all the nutrients contained in your little body, and some of these are recycled; others are processed and then excreted. Some of these nutrients find their way to your bone marrow where they are used to build a replacement for you.
During your four-month lifetime, you had a powerful relationship with the heart, which is designed to give a lift to you and your buddies for over 100 years, providing it is treated right. You are glad to have served such a powerful organ. You lived out your life in great respect for this powerhouse, the heart.
The heart is the source of vitality for the body and the mind. When it is treated well, it is much stronger than required for ordinary needs and able to respond to emergency situations with ease. When not responding to an emergency, your well-treated, vital heart is a source of inner peace and well-being in times of rest, and the source of great courage under stress. The condition of your heart has everything to do with your ability to express yourself and to fulfill your destiny. It also generates a powerful field of energy affecting your ability to think clearly and relate powerfully with others. The heart is more than a physical organ. The effectiveness with which it can do its job, physical, as well as spiritual, is clearly connected to its physical condition.
The heart is made strong through use, like any other muscle. If you place it under stress, it responds by enlarging and becoming more powerful. This is reflected by a lowering of the resting heart rate. The unconditioned heart requires 70-100 beats per minute at rest to do its job. The conditioned heart runs between thirty and sixty beats (depending on age and condition) per minute at rest, pumping the same amount of blood as the unconditioned heart does at 70-100 beats per minute. Needless to say, the conditioned heart undergoes much less wear and tear to do its job than does the unconditioned heart.