From the Heart!

Just recently, I reminded this writer that I exist and that I am important. He had taken me for granted for too long and been piling up his mental load on me so mercilessly that I thought it fit to give a missed call. It was a jolt that he would remember for the rest of his life, which of course depends on how healthy and happy I am. Just as well, though, for since then he has been trying to take care of me. Only trying, but that’s fine for a start because that shows my warning has gone home!

The problem with my ‘house-owner’ is stress. But many of my mates, residing in all such houses, too are not just ignored but assaulted by a range of weapons. Now to some heart-to-heart talk on behalf my tribe. Smokers scorch my skin and cloud my paths. They don’t realise that the pollution they cause to the environment is nothing compared to the damage done to their insides. Drinkers make me shrink, for alcohol is as bad. And worse, they make me an alibi for their booze binges by quoting unverified researches that moderate (?) drinking is good for me. This may be true for Europe, particularly the Mediterranean belt, but I am still an Indian at heart. Aah, it looks this fad for foreign stuff from the aforesaid areas is not confined to just cosmetics, fast cars etc, but also to bloodlines! No political pun intended.

But still, moderation is my motto. However, most of my bosses seem to care less. They forget that they are what they eat and resort to very unhealthy food habits. While what is not digested gets out, I am the one who handles what is ingested and that’s quite a job these days. Thanks to junk food and sundry other fancy, fast, fatty stuff, I come across more oil than could be drilled in the Gulf! Blood may be thicker than water, but oil and ghee are thicker than blood and leave their cholesterol-loaded sediments on my channels in the place of nourishing medicinal nutrients and minerals that I need most. Now, how can I not choke on that hefty diet? And when bad food joins hands with bad food-timings, you are surely asking for trouble from me!

The curse of gluttony can still be mitigated if only my bosses care to exercise. Instead, most compound my problems by their sedentary lifestyles. That is unfair. I work non-stop; rather, I start beating at embryo stage itself and do not stop till, er, I stop. But my bearers seem to have no such compulsions. Result is, the fat put into my domain without my permission only gets fatter. For, those who just laze not exactly idle; they tend to be depressed and also overeat, taking the cycle into higher spirals. At one point, out of sheer impatience and frustration, I give in! After all, why should I slog round the clock and calendar when the one for whom I work does not want to exert himself/herself one bit?

There are other villains like Blood Pressure and Diabetes. These two are known for their stealth and silence and often take me by surprise with nary a symptom. I am at their mercy just as my boss is and the only succour is medication, exercise and constant monitoring. But there is something else that affects me most, in both positive and negative ways, in comparison to all the above risk factors: MIND. The modus operandi of the mind is not my concern here and I would rather mind my business, ie, confine to the mind’s impact on me. To put it simply, mental stress releases Oxygen-free radicals which starve the blood and tissues of that vital source of life. To quote from cardiologist Dr Chockalingam’s book, Mind your Heart, ‘Positive mindset like mental peace, happiness and meditation effectively reduce the release of free radicals, pro-oxidants, and also potentiates the intrinsic antioxidants, thereby keeping the balance in favour’. Most of my observers have come around to the view that my biggest tormentor is the mind. If it is at ease and peace, I too am and for long. So, mind it!

Everyone must understand that I am also changing with the times. And as I said, my patience is running thin. For instance, it was once said that I start giving trouble only with ageing. In these fast, competitive and material times, I catch them young, too. It was also believed that I had a marked gender-bias and do not normally mess with women. Well, those days are passé. The flip side of the blurring of the gender-divide in modern life has also erased my sense of choice. That is, my ‘quota’ of women victims is on the rise, in tune with national trends. Also, traditionally, my misbehaviour has been blamed on genetics. It is true to an extent because heredity and history are critical factors in determining my current karma but a correct exercise of freewill can reduce those inherited perils too. For example, a positive lifestyle at a young age can mutate those disease-prone genes too positively and that person can avoid coronary problems even if the parent had suffered. And wonder of wonders, such a person’s children can actually be devoid of those inherited genes also. So there go some myths about me!

I may sound a little like the Almighty from now on. But I am not all that mighty, given my vulnerabilities. Still, here are some paeans and pangs. I pervade your life. From pre-cradle to pre-grave my presence in you is predominant. Without my beat not a cell in you can survive. You live as long as I live. But I am more than a mere fist sized internal organ. My external manifestations, albeit metaphorical, are many and profound. In that, I am superior to the mind, which doubtless affects me. Mind is the front for ego; I double up for the soul. Raw emotions mark the mind. Whereas, I am the ultimate expression of humanity’s finer feelings. Fear, jealousy, anger, greed, enmity, etc are matters of the mind. Compassion, peace, love and contentment are my portfolios. Mind excites the academic: I inspire the muse. Mind is often materialistic and transient. A smart mind creates an intelligent, prosperous world. But it is me who spreads goodness and makes it habitable. A change of mind could be temporary. A change of heart is lasting!

So have a heart for me! For, when I rule, your body and your world become safer!

e-mail the writer at [email protected]

Jawahar T R