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      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 to hypertension.
      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.

Emotional Aspects
      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 these pressures.
      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.

Wing Lifting
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 together.
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.

       
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