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Dr. C: Hey, there! Dr. Alan Christianson here, and I am joined by my friend, Joel Kahn. I am really jazzed to have him here today. He is a world-renowned cardiologist. I want to hear about his adrenals. What are his stresses by being in a complex, public life with his work and his practice? Also, what has been his biggest boon? What has really helped him keep stable, and keep the ship right, more than anything else? So, Dr. Kahn, thank you so much for being here.
Dr. Kahn: Really honored and so glad to talk to your amazing group.
Dr. C: Let’s start with the negative, if you do not mind. What’s the rock to your boat more than anything in your professional life?
Dr. Kahn: Well, when I am giving health advice so many hours a day, I am aware, as Steven Covey says, you have to “sharpen your own saw.” I am as prone to burnout as all the high executive patients I see and all the rest. I am very aware, so I monitor my sleep, my stress and my work. The biggest challenge in my life is time management and maintaining my own sanity and my own health. I put a lot of focus on stress management. That is important to me.
Dr. C: So, you are in a place in your career where I am sure you get plenty of opportunities and have plenty of things to do, and that can be a big part of it. It’s just having to pick and choose and not get overwhelmed.
Dr. Kahn: Yeah, I mean, literally, in the same way so many people that are listening now have a lot of responsibility, and then always being connected by email, texting and every other social media aspect that we use nowadays — just keeping up with it. I am working on my own brain and neuroplasticity to maintain calm and control. I am looking for ways to hack that. I am looking for efficient ways to optimize my brain power and optimize my skills. I’ve got to implement it, and then I can teach it to others more effectively.
Dr. C: Beautiful segue. Let’s go into what has been your biggest mood-changer overall. Of all your tools, of all your equipment, what do you find the most useful and of most benefit for you?
Dr. Kahn: Sure. In my own life, and as I instruct patients, it is always going to be nutrition and some combination of diet and fitness. I love yoga. I try to get my seven good hours of sleep, on average. It clearly does not happen every night. What I have found has been the best tool, and what I teach others, has become heart math. For those not familiar, it is an application for a smartphone, for a tablet, for a PC or Mac where you can download the software for free at heartmath.org, just like it sounds. Then you need to purchase a cable. The cable is about two feet long. There is a cable specifically for a smartphone and a different one for a PC or a full-size Mac. It is really an awesome system. I have my iPhone here, and one end of the cable goes into the charging portion of the iPhone. The other end is the magic. The other end is a clip that goes on your ear. Not only is it a heart rate monitor, but it is also a heart rate variability monitor. Heart rate variability is a measure of balance between the autonomic parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. These are high-power words that I am not sure if your audience is familiar with. The more balance you have, the better, and that can be accomplished with yoga, actually, as well as Tai chi and Qigong. Well, this little practice of ten minutes a day of breathing, monitored by your own heart rate and heart rate variability, has really been supported by 30 or 40 scientific publications. I just find it is time efficient, colorful and provides great feedback. It’s a really good training system that has helped me maintain that sense of calm and get my adrenals to be a little more resilient, with phone calls from the hospitals, demands and deadlines that you and I have, and I am sure a lot of listeners have.
Dr. C: Something I know about you is that you are not financially tied to this, and it is just something you are sharing because you find it useful and helpful. I just wanted to point that out. In the last minute, could you briefly provide a little more depth for our viewers who might not be familiar with this?
Dr. Kahn: I am just going to put it right out there. Basically, when you have the earpiece connected to your phone or your tablet, you will be instructed to breathe in and out, guided by colorful graphics (and even more amazing graphics if you are using a PC or a full-size computer). Those graphics will give you instant feedback, as you are breathing, with the feeling of calm or love if you are in a zone called “coherence” – if you have a balance between your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. It’s a place that is good to spend some time every day, even if it is just ten minutes. It improves immune function, your memory, lowers your cortisol (if it is at a high level from stress), and there is even some data that it may even affect your telomeres and aging. I just love that this is easy science and only ten minutes. I find my executives grab onto it. People that will never meditate, grab onto it, or the ones that are not ready yet for a full meditation.
Dr. C: So, I am looking at your graph right now, and it looks like you are telling the truth.
Dr. Kahn: Well, I had done this. Red means a little stress; blue means intermediate. I was doing this just before we logged on. I was getting green, and I was calming and getting in a coherent state. I encourage everybody to look at this. I have no financial ties, so look at heartmath.org as a tool, amongst many other tools, to bring some calm and sanity back into the very busy lives that we have.
Dr. C: That is awesome – very easy and practical stuff. I will provide some links for everyone. I think I have some discussion where I talked about the science behind heart rate variability and some more meaning on that, and I will link to those, as well. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Kahn. Look forward to seeing you real soon, and I appreciate your input.
Dr. Kahn: Have a wonderful day. Thank you.