How I Use Meditation to Relieve My Heart Palpitations

Tom August  —  April 30, 2015 — 10 Comments

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

Meditation is (or was) a foreign concept to me. Prior to heart palpitations I never tried it. It seemed like some mystical aspiration for gurus or hippies. But after developing heart palpitations, I kept stumbling on to articles extolling the calming virtues of meditation. And then I saw an article that said Jerry Seinfeld credited much of his success to his daily meditation. Really?! Seinfeld! That sealed the deal. I had to check into this whole meditation thing. So I tried it. And of course I loved it. Apparently there are a zillion different ways to meditate (ranging from bizarre to bare minimal) but I finally found a way that works for me.

How I Use Meditation to Help Relieve My Heart Palpitations

How I Meditate with Heart Palpitations

I already wrote about the breathing exercises I do (you can see that post HERE). I occasionally combine both my meditation and my breathing exercises, but I prefer to do them separately if I have the time.

Like my breathing exercises, I always have a hard time focusing when my heart palpitations are going crazy. So I use a massager and place it on my chest if I am laying down or propped up on my back if I am sitting up (this is the massager I use). The vibrations from the massager make it harder for me to feel each heart skip. Otherwise, all I can think about are the palpitations and my “meditation” time is anything but peaceful.

How I Prepare for Meditation

I also try to find a nice, quiet, comfortable spot in the house (sometimes I go into our closet where it is nice and dark and other times I sit by a window in the warm sunlight). I typically like to lie down, but occasionally I will bring a giant comfy pillow (like this one) and sit up with my legs crossed and my back against the wall or a couch.

I love good smelling candles, so I will also light candles when possible. I really think that certain smells can be comforting and bring us back to familiar, restful places. I love Eucalyptus & Peppermint candles (especially this one) and Cinnamon Candles (this is another one I’ve used and enjoy). The Eucalyptus candle is supposedly great for stress and reminds me of my house growing up, and the cinnamon candle reminds me of the Christmas holidays and just makes me happy.

How I Meditate

Once I get situated, I put my headphones on (this may be a meditation no no, I don’t know) and I start listening to music or pre-recorded reminders that I made. I use noise canceling headphones because I have a house full of boys and it’s pretty much the only way to ensure a quiet environment (if you are interested, here is the pair of headphones that I use and love. They are awesome).

For music, I typically listen to Explosions In the Sky since they are nice ambient music (It’s also great music to work to). I also listen to calming music on iTunes Radio, but I hate that there are occasional advertisements that chime in, so I have bought some calming music for my meditation playlist.

If I don’t listen to music, I will occasionally just take one thing and say it over and over like a typical mantra, but my absolute favorite thing to do is listen to a playlist of reminders/mantras that I have pre-recorded. This may sound silly, but since I’m prone to panic attacks when my heart palpitations get out of control, I like to remind myself of some of the things I have learned along the way (I will write another post about the actual reminders/mantras that I use soon) along with inspirational sayings and verses from the Bible that I’ve recorded. The verses are a great reminder that we have a purpose in life, God is good, He is the giver of peace, and he is in control.

To record my reminders, I use an app called Memorize Anything. It allows me to record a saying on my phone then put a tag on it. I have a tag called “Meditation” and when I go to meditate I can play all my reminders and verses in order or randomly (which I love). It’s been a great app for me, so I highly recommend it. You can find it HERE on the app store.

The goal for me in meditation is to eliminate the bad and put in the good. It helps me come back to center and focus on what matters.

When I Meditate

I try to meditate before the kids get up, but often times I find it even more helpful to do a quick 10-15 minute meditation break at either 10am or 3pm (or both if I have the time). It a nice break from the stress of work.

Some Meditation Tricks That I Have Learned

  1. Get Comfortable.
  2. I found myself fighting around a lot trying to get comfortable when I first started meditating. Find or invest in a good pillow or chair to help you settle in (personally, I love this one).

  3. Start Small.
  4. I started with just 3 minutes. I didn’t want to make a goal of meditating 30 minutes a day and then beak it after the first couple of days. Three minutes is nothing. It’s an easy way to start and you can build from there.

  5. Do it in the same place.
  6. Try to find a quiet place that you go to each time you want to meditate. I actually have two places and it works out well. One is in our bedroom closet since it is quiet and dark and the other in a room that has a lot of sunlight (I love sitting in the sun, there is something so peaceful about it).

  7. Track your progress.
  8. I started by making a spreadsheet and marking the time and quality of the meditation, but now there are plenty of apps that help you do that quickly and easily. Here is a cool one called Equanimity – Meditation Timer & Tracker

  9. Use Technology.
  10. I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode so I won’t be interrupted, but as I mentioned above I will often listen to music or listen to my reminders on my phone. But now a days there are also a number of really awesome apps and gadgets that really help you relax and monitor your meditation. One is called Muse. It is a headband that monitors your brainwaves and helps guide you back to a state of calmness. It’s a little bit of an investment, but really helpful! Here is their website and here is their headband.

And that’s about it. I guess I don’t really get to some higher state of enlightenment, but meditation does help me come back to a state of calm and peace, which is essential for battling heart palpitations.

How about you? Do you meditate? What types of meditation have you found helpful for heart palpitations?

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DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind I am NOT a medical professional and this is NOT a Medical website. I am just a guy who got sick and tired of dealing with anxiety, stress, and benign heart palpitations and started blogging about my journey. Hopefully some of that information is helpful to you. But what works for me or others might not work for you. Please do not do ANYTHING described or recommended in this website without the consultation and consent of your Primary Care Physician or Cardiologist. After all, this is your heart we are talking about. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission that goes toward supporting this website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

10 responses to How I Use Meditation to Relieve My Heart Palpitations

  1. As an encouragement to other sufferers, i thought i would post a quick thought… I have commented on hear before and given my acount of how i have tried to live with these terrible things for years. One thing I have realised lately is that exercise has a massive effect on their frequncy for me. i went through stages where i was not exercising for whatever reason – i saw a marked increase in the number of palps I would get. I have recently started running again and the palps have all but ceased. There must be something with the extra enegery running creates burning up these things and stopping them misfiring? Anyway, for me a reality – not only do they reduce while exercising, which is common knowledge – but rather, they reduce outside of exercise times, when i have exercised that day or the day before. hope this helps some.

  2. It’s funny you mention the massager and how it works for you, when my palps are bothering me I like to run the shower right over my chest. Same effect you’re talking about.

    But the massager is a great idea for when you’re lying down. I really need to buy one.

  3. Hi there, am new to this only been suffering since March this year, am finding it really hard to cope 😥.
    Not only do I get the palps but I feel like am going to pass out.
    Am currently seeing a Dr at our cardiology department, just finished a wk of spider monitor which was a nightmare, I had an allergic reaction to the pads.
    Next step is an echocardiogram on the 18th, any advice tips or general help you guys can give me I’d be very greatful.
    Kind regards

    Gemma

    • Gemma

      I know exactly how you feel. “Hard to cope” is my situation as well, when they get bad. The only real answer is to hear it from your cardiologist that your heart is in good health, your palpitations are benign and that your heart isn’t going to stop you from living a long, healthy life.

      I’ve been dealing with them for years, and it’s sheer misery the moment you let it get to you. You can let them control you or you can control yourself. The worry, the stress, the fear, and the anxiety, those are much harder to deal with than a heart which skips beats here and there.

  4. Thanks Tom, I just discovered your site. I am going to spend some time reading your posts but thought I’d mention my story.

    I started getting palpitations about 6 months ago, I think I was having them for a little while but didn’t notice until I decided to take my pulse one day and did the standard freak-out ER trip. I actually attribute the onset of these to weight lifting, as it’s the only thing different I had been doing for a few months leading up to the palpitations. My cardiologist says there’s no logical reason why that could be the case but the whole thing seems illogical to me.

    They actually went away after a few months in which I did all the standard tests and found nothing wrong. They were gone for about 2 weeks and then came back while I was helping someone move (which supports my weightlifting hypotheses). Again they resolved for a good 3 weeks but came back again while weightlifting and this time seemed to stick. They have calmed quite a bit perhaps due to some breathing exercises (google for Dr. Weil and the 4-7-8-Breath) and lots of vitamins but they have not gone away this time. I think I’m done with the lifting this time but will continue to run (no palps at all while running).

    I’m also taking Metropolol (6 months to a year) which I am tolerating okay and seem to have further helped return my heart to regular beats but I can still tell they are frequent at night. My cardiologist says that the heart can get used to an improper rhythm and get stuck that way. I have not read anything like that have you?

    The good news is that it has really brought to light some issues I can concentrate on to make myself better like diet, reducing anxiety, learning proper breathing, exercising more, etc. I have tried meditation a few times and was pretty blown away but I didn’t have enough willpower to make myself do it every day. I may take another stab after reading this. Best of luck to everyone!

  5. Tom,

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been having heart palpitations since I was 14 (I’m 54 now). For the most part they’d last a couple of weeks and then go away, often for months at a time. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I finally started to believe that they wouldn’t kill me, which certainly helped (but did not eliminate) the anxiety.

    I’ve had them pretty consistently since my battle with breast cancer two years ago (I’m fine now). A recent Holter Monitor showed more than 500 extra beats in a 24 hour period.

    I learned years ago that meditation does help lower the autonomic threshhold, thereby reducing heart palpitations. I’m curious, do you find that meditating decreases the frequency and severity of them? Does it help you immediately after meditation, and does the effect last for any period of time?

    Thanks again for a great post. It’s really nice to know there are others out there who are going through the same thing!

  6. I’m just very grateful for all this wonderful information and no one is asking me for $100.
    Very refreshing! I’ve had heart palpatations on and off for years. Sometimes I get one a day sometimes thousands. Sometimes they go for almost a year and then come back out of nowhere. I think mine are due to my anxiety disorder. Too much adrenaline in my system. Exercise, yoga and meditation help so much!!!!

  7. I’m so thankful for this site and would love to hear more stories. They make me feel less alone with my palpitations.
    I’ve dealt with my “flutter” for over 5 years now. I’ve had blood work, heart rate monitor, and just recently had a CT scan that I requested on my own. The CT scan came back with 0 calcification which is so reassuring. Every other test came back fine but the monitor did indicate a PVC. Per my physician it’s nothing to worry about. That’s fine for him to say but of course I worry about it. I’m always worrying.
    My struggles with the flutter is a combination of anxiety causing the flutter and the flutter provoking the anxiety. I have had great success with deep meditation and hypnosis (which was more intense than the meditation). I now try to meditate for 10 min every day. Exercise is also a huge help. I try to work out 30 min cardio every day getting my heart rate up to strengthen the muscles. I’m still a coffee drinker but limit to about 3/4 of a large cup. I just know if I drink the coffee I’ll feel the flutter. I’ve also noticed the increase in flutter activity the day after I’ve had a few cocktails. So I limit myself, or try to.
    This site and others I’ve stumbled upon are just comforting. I thank everyone for sharing and hope that this can help others who feel scared and alone!

  8. It feels good to have stumbled upon this blog! It is indeed very comforting to know many others out there are experiencing this thing. I’ve been living with heart palpitations for 7 years now, I am 28 this year. Like a lot out there, I have gone through all tests possible (thyroid tests, thyroid ultrasound, 2d echo, ecg, holter monitoring) and all came back normal. At first I didn’t know if I should be happy about it or all the more upset (of not knowing where the palpitations were coming from). Until I realized that the palpitations will not kill me and embraced the fact that it is now a part of me, my palpitations now occur less frequently. Through the years, relaxation and continuous reminder to myself that each episode passes tremendously helped. I’ve also had a lot of episodes when I nearly fainted, and noticed that happens as my anxiety increases from fear of my heart rate going out of control. But really, it is just the anxiety causing it and not the palpitations. Overtime I’ve developed a lot of fears because of this condition (fear of being alone, fear of huge crowd and closed spaces, and a lot more) mainly fear of being put in any situation where it’s difficult to be rescued when an episode gets out of control and I might die. Family and friends tell me I might just be too stressed, tired, or thinking too much, but I know for a fact that’s not the case. It’s been palpitations-anxiety-stress and not stress-anxiety-palpitations. I am trying to find out now exactly what’s causing the palpitations and so far I’m learning that it is in most cases caused by a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. From what I’ve read so far, deficiency in Magnesium and B vitamins may mainly cause it.

    After reading Dr. Carolyn Dean’s articles and blogs on how Magnesium deficiency may be the root cause of many illnesses and that loading it back in your body is the cure, I immediately purchased a bottle of a magnesium supplement. What I bought was the chelated one (from mg oxide and amino acids). I’ve only taken it for three days as although i immediately noticed how it slows my heart down, I felt an extreme fatigue and sleepiness so bad it’s ridiculous. I felt very uncomfortable feeling that way that although I felt so weak and sleepy I couldn’t get myself to rest and had a crazy episode of heart palpitations, cold sweats, etc. as soon as the anxiety kicked in. When I have finally psyched up myself that Magnesium is the safest mineral one could possibly take (because the body only absorbs the Mg it needs and any excess will go to your urine), my palpitaions stopped. Though I still felt so sleepy. The next morning I was fine again. But i stopped the supplement. I still believe that Magnesium is the answer to this condition and I will continue finding the right brand/binding agent for me. I read one form may be good for others and another form for others. So, I will continue on the Magnesium research and probably resume on the supplement once I have seen a naturopathic doctor to get an advise. Anyway, from the 7 years I’ve had this condition, one that works ALL THE TIME is MIND OVER BODY. So, while you can’t figure out yet what the imbalance is in your body that’s causing it, learn to embrace it, eat healthy (whole foods), and keep a healthy mind.

  9. Thanks so much for this blog! I am 33 years old and male and I had come to many similar conclusions on my own when I had very similar symptoms start happening to me this year. I think psychologically accepting was the hardest part even after I started to really get the flutters under control with diet, exercise and relaxation. How long did it take you to psychologically start feeling “normal” again?

    – Josh

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