Go Red for Heart Month
In February we turn our attention to our heart health. Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans and diabetes increases your risk. In keeping with my holistic view of how the body works, I thought I would frame the heart into the three parts of the self – body, mind and spirit. Both the heart and the color red have meanings in all three realms. Let’s take a look.
Red Heart of the Body
In our physical body the color red represents two very opposing concepts. 1) The red of healthy, well-oxygenated blood flowing through blood vessels bringing life giving oxygen, nutrition and immunity to all cells in the body. The heart is the central organ insuring that blood flows to each and every cell in your body. The physical body has a rosy glow when it is happy, well-fed and well-oxygenated.
Red is also the color of inflammation. Tissues that are injured, irritated or infected appear reddened and swollen. It is a chronic inflammatory state of our cardiovascular system that is a precursor to heart disease. Inflammation in the blood vessels disrupts blood flow, roughens up the lining of blood vessels and creates conditions where blockages become more prevalent. When blood flow is impaired the tissues and organs supplied by the damaged vessels suffer as a result.
Red Heart of the Mind
In our mental self, red again has two opposing meanings. We have the red of love, flowing from the heart, connecting individuals and creating feelings of acceptance, safety and kindness. It’s no coincidence that Heart Month is in the same month as Valentines Day. It’s the time to celebrate our connections to those we love and build bridges where love may be absent. There is no greater healer than to feel loved and accepted just as you are.
But if you have watched the movie Inside Out, you might recall that red is also the color of Anger. We use the color to describe different levels of anger or danger; “red hot”, “seeing red”, “red flag” or “red alert”. Much like inflammation of the mind, anger is an inflammatory state of your internal world.
Psychologist Tara Brock states that anger is always about an unmet inner need. Things like a need to feel safe, a need to be seen, a need to belong or a need to be respected. If you feel a person or situation is preventing you from meeting a need, anger will show up. Anger creates and uses a LOT of energy. It can motivate you to action or drain you when not satisfied.
When your inner red of love isn’t met, the result is often the outer red of anger.
Red Heart of the Spirit
When I speak of spirit, it is the most pure essence of your uniqueness, and it is the vast connectedness of the universe. The red of your spirit can be thought of as your passions, the pull that moves your towards your destiny and the creativity that burns in the deepest parts of you. Who knows from where your passions come, but they give you power and vitality. They allow you to be free to create and move into the unknown and supply you with unlimited energy that burns from within.
Not surprisingly there is a contrasting red of the spirit. It is your root chakra represented by the color red and located at the base of your torso and spine. The energy of the root chakra keeps you grounded, connects you deeply to mother earth and is solid and stable. It represents safety, your basic needs and your sense of trust. It is
Red of Diabetes
Each of these aspects of self describe the dichotomy and opposing forces of diabetes. The desire to have a healthy body, with the reality that our imperfect blood sugar control puts us at risk for cardiac disease. The desire for love and acceptance, in a world where we can feel cheated, misunderstood and afraid. The desire to pursue your dreams and passions, tempered by the necessity of safety and stability of your food, medicine and technology.
If we take a lesson from nature, we are reminded that these conditions can exist in balance. Each of these states have purpose, there is a rhythm and a flow from one to the next. The key is to allow the transition, notice when we get too fixed in any single stage and move through it. You body will have periods of health and illness. Your emotions will flow from love to anger. Your spirit may soar to great heights or root deeply at its core.
Diabetes is woven into the fabric of ourselves and our lives. Not just our bodies, but our minds (emotions, thoughts and feelings) and our spirits (passion, purpose, beliefs). Each part of our “self” plays a vital role and a “Better Diabetes Life” requires attention to each part of us. We are more than just glucose readings.
As I send this post on Valentine’s Day, I hope each of your safe passage through whatever season this finds your in. Notice which red heart of your body/mind/spirit is beating and tend to it accordingly. It is in this self-care that you will find true healing.
PS – Not sure how to get started? My 5 Step Program can help you improve how you care for your diabetes and your “self”.