I was in a doozy of a bad mood earlier in the week. It started with a couple of nights of poor sleep. (That is my Achilles heel.) It downgraded from there. I know how important it is to do what I can to lift myself out of it and into a better frame of mind. I began by doing some in-the-moment stress techniques, which provided a bit of buoyancy, but not enough to lift me out of that murky mood. Off to the pool I went. Surely a vigorous swim will send me soaring. Nope! *Grumble!* How about a Holly dog walk in weather I love - brisk and sunny. Apparently, I had lead feet. Yes, I was still in the depths of the despair.
I needed to finish writing an article, so I sat down in front of an empty document, willing the words to magically appear on the screen. *Sigh!* "Oh, yeah, I want to find out about Gregorian chants." (I had recently finished reading The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny. It was set in a monastery in the Quebec wilderness, where the monks claim to fame was singing Gregorian chants.) Time to visit Mr. Google for some examples of Gregorian chants. I found a Youtube station and let the voices wash over me while I worked. Soon I was happily typing away. Shortly after, I noticed the rotten mood that had plagued me for most of the day had lifted.
A Bad Mood = Stress
Besides feeling emotionally awful, a bad mood impacts you mentally, as is evidenced by my inability to come up with a coherent and meaningful article that I was writing for HealthCentral.com. Simply put, a bad mood = stress. When you are under stress, there is a lack of coherence between the various systems in your body, including the cardiac system, the respiratory system, the hormonal system, etc. To get an idea of what this incoherence is like, imagine an orchestra, where each member is playing their own music from classical to jazz to rock to blues - all at the same time. What a cacophony of noise!
Now, imagine the conductor, who applies his knowledge, training and vision, to lead the orchestra in such a way that brings about order and harmony. What was once a discordant space is now filled with beautiful music.
Consider that your heart is the conductor that encourages a harmonious connection between all your parts.
Sometimes You Have to Change Things
I learned that sometimes a change in routine, coupled with good ol' time, can help lift you up from that rough field of despair. On that day, it was the beauty of those Gregorian chants that did the trick. Another day, it might be Tina Turner, Blue Rodeo or The Eagles. The constant is that it's something I love.
So, love - people, places or things - can help bring about a change in your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the way in which your heart speeds up and slows down. The rhythm it creates is the difference between stress and stress-free. A jagged rhythm is stress and energy-depleted. With practice, you learn to change the rhythm into one that is smooth. Like a car that is well-tuned, your system (you), run more efficiently.
About those Gregorian chants
Gregorian chants are sung to the Pentatonic scale. The Power of the Pentatonic Scale has this to say:
A Belgian research found the pentatonic scale could be heard in the vocal interaction between babies and their mothers. And whoever has listened to children on a playground, can recognize the so-mi / la-so-mi patterns in their chants. This natural use of the pentatonic scale by children lead music educators including Zoltan Kodály and Carl Orff to largely use the pentatonic scale for pitch-matching and improvisation in their music education approaches. Not only babies and children seem to gravitate towards pentatony though: military cadences, used to keep soldiers in step while marching or running, also typically use pentatonic scales.
Next time you're feeling glum, atune yourself to the pentatonic scale. Your heart might just thank you!
If you're interested in improving your HRV, I can help with training programs and technology. Email or call for more information.