If Seneca Had a Heart Rate Monitor

I’m gradually recording posts onto Soundcloud for those of you who have difficulty reading, check out the Audio page (top right). Now I’m doing this, some posts might become chattier in style, on the assumption that you can listen if reading is a barrier.

You’ve probably realised by now that I’m fairly open minded about the approaches I use to heal ME (I tend to refer to this as Accepting Sceptic in review posts). I’m not passionately attached to one particular approach and by open minded I don’t mean ONLY alternative therapies, which is actually just another form of being closed minded. If a prescribed drug does the job without prohibitive side effects I’d give it a go. For example, I took Amitriptyline for years on and off to help with body clock reversal and it made a big difference, but the side effects became counterproductive. Now valerian helps me sleep (and various other techniques mentioned on the blog) and that’s fine unless they also produce side effects – being natural doesn’t mean no side effects as I expect you’ve found out.

Anyway, what can become interesting is the way we individually combine different approaches. I notice myself doing this as I take onboard new ideas. When I started recording my own self hypnosis tracks I used standard hypnosis scripts mixed with mindfulness style body scans with content I’d learnt about my body from the nutrition side of the Optimum Health Clinic and binaural beat music in the background. This type of combination probably isn’t that unusual.

At the moment because I’ve got into modern stoicism at the same time as looking into heart rate monitor pacing I’m finding that I’m sort of amalgamating these two very different approaches. I suspect I may be the only one doing this as both are unusual in their own right. An example of my daily rhythm is:

  • take my morning resting heart rate

  • use the stoic morning guided meditation to plan my day and this is initially based on my morning heart rate as well as planning for setbacks if my symptoms are bad or heart rate unusually high for standard activities

  • have the mindfulness bell go off every hour or two and do the Right Now activity to quickly assess how I’m doing fatigue wise and remind myself of my Stoic plan for the day

  • use the afternoon meditation to get my attitude in line

  • use the evening stoic meditation to assess my pacing through the day and maybe make journal notes on my heart rate through the day.

Today when I was thinking about this it occurred to me that this may not be such a strange combination. What would Seneca, Epictetus or Zeno do with a heart rate monitor? Obviously the ancient Stoics didn’t have access to this technology but I think it does have something to offer their practices. Stoics are very into separating out what you can control and what you can’t. I don’t completely agree with their ancient idea that the only things you can control are your own thoughts and emotions (not your body) and I think that Seneca with a heart rate monitor would become quickly convinced that his heart rate was indeed within his control. It could be influenced by strong emotions and physical actions. The heart rate would be quickly taken on as a measure of control over emotions and self discipline in exercise.

Rocio from Modern Stoicism Course

Which seemingly unrelated approaches have you combined and has it produced a deliciously flavoured fusion dish or a kitchen sink soup?!

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