Hypertension, the technical term for high blood
pressure, can be caused by dietary im-balances or emotional stress.
Various extremes or excesses of these factors can cause or contribute
Regarding dietary factors, there are tension-producing foods and
tension-releasing foods. Eating a lot of salt, for example, has
been shown to be directly related to high blood pressure. It hardens
and constricts the arteries, impeding the blood flow. Thus, the
heart must pump harder to circulate the blood through the restricted
vessels. Salt tends to stiffen the muscles, creating muscular tensions
which also hamper the blood flow. Meat, which contains both salt
and animal fats, contributes to hypertension. Since virtually all
packaged, canned, processed foods contain salt or white sugar (often
both!), they should be avoided. These should be replaced by fresh
vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and various other natural foods.
When people are under a lot of pressure, either from internal or
external conflicts, they get charged up for action. This is a normal
physiological response that provides us with extra energy to handle
a situation by automatically shifting our metabolism into a higher
gear. These days we aren't facing the physical dangers that require
this shift, but unfortunately, our bodies still automatically provide
it. By constantly "revving our motors," emotional stress can wear
us out. Since a state of high blood pressure is one element in the
shift, it can become a chronic problem if we are constantly under
a lot of stress, especially if we have difficulty letting go of
Hypertension is a symptom, a manifestation of imbalances in the
body. Whether dietary or emotional factors predominate, we must
look deeply into ourselves and our lives, going beyond symptoms,
and looking for causes. Hypertension can never be completely elimi-nated
until the underlying cause is handled. Holistic health involves
looking at ourselves as integrated wholes, and looking beyond symptoms
for underlying causes, imbalances and patterns of weakness. In order
to achieve radiant health, you must take responsibility to change
whatever aspect of your life is causing your imbalances. This can
involve changes in your diet, exercise, or work habits. It can mean
getting individual help from practitioners of Holistic Health methods.
It also requires you to work on yourself, through self-help methods
such as meditation and Acu-Yoga. The following story illustrates
all of these aspects of hypertension from a holistic perspective.
I used to give Acupressure sessions to a successful and wealthy
man who had a bad case of high blood pressure. One time, he relaxed
so deeply that he fell asleep for a few minutes so that his session
ended a little later than usual. However, he had a doctor's appointment
soon after that, which he had neglected to tell me about. When he
woke he realized he'd be late and started frantically rushing around
to get ready.
The Acupressure session had lowered his blood pressure, but I was
sure that it had soared back up again from all his rushing around.
The next time I spoke with him I was surprised to hear that his
doctor said that he had had a normal blood pressure reading for
the first time in years. Blood pressure is one of the few medical
tests that I had access to that could measure the benefits of Acupressure.
Consequently, I had my client's wife take his blood pressure before
and after the Acupressure session so that we could measure the difference.
His systolic blood pressure was 162 mm before I worked on him-over
40 mm above normal, which is about 120 mm. After the one-hour session,
it had dropped 38 mm to 124 mm. Even though Acupressure clearly
lowered my client's blood pressure, it is only a limited temporary
measure unless he looks into what is causing his condition, and
begins to deal with that. For example, he had been drinking to "help
himself relax." He decided to stop drinking for awhile because he
thought he was going to have a heart attack if he didn't, and he
was also learning new, constructive ways to relax through Acupressure.
His hyper-tension actually vanished as soon as he stopped drinking.
In the following Acu-Yoga exercise, "Wing Lifting,"
points in the shoulders are stretched to release muscle tension
and emotional uptightness that con-tribute to hypertension.
1. Sit comfortably and clasp your hands behind your back with your
palms facing each other.
2. Press your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are pushed
3. Inhale, raise your shoulders up toward your ears, and let your
head drop back.
4. Straighten your arms and lift them away from your buttocks.
5. Exhale, and come to the resting posi-tion, as in No. 1.
6. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5 five times. Work up to repeating the
exercise for one minute.
7. Let go of your arms and relax. Lightly shake your shoulders.
Remind yourself to breathe slightly deeper than you usually breathe
throughout the day.