The Power of the Mind

Last week I was due to go and see my EP 30 miles away. I'd been feeling so well and thought I don't want the stress of driving there so postponed my appointment for another 3 months. Very soon after I cancelled my appointment things started to go down hill (I think it was on the very evening that I cancelled it). I became aware of odd heartbeats again and knew something was brewing - how right I was. I ended up having a period of AF and tachycardia, one of the worst ones I've had for about 18 months (heart was jumping in body).

Now my question is: Why does this appear to happen as soon as the reassurance that I'm going to see a professional has passed! It has happened so many times now that it can no longer be thought of as just a coincidence. Surely it has to be me and my thoughts causing my heart to race and if this is the case then there's a chance, that hopefully, I could cure myself by controlling what goes on in my head.

We often talk on this site about having no AF symptoms when wearing a heart monitor. There has to be a reason for that too. Do we create our AF somehow?

What are others thoughts on this?

58 Replies

  • Absolutely agree jeanjennie - I think the mental safety net being removed affects the subconscious and the safety net's presence - the heart monitor, seeing the medic or even the feeling of taking control of symptoms can seem to keep them at bay. I think this must be how CBT and similar therapies work so well for some people.

    One of my best ways to feel better is to make an appointment - doctor or dentist, doesn't matter - and the symptoms lessen, leaving me wondering if I should cancel rather than starting the conversation with the words 'I used to have toothache, backache etc but now it's gone ....'!!

    I hope you are feeling better and can perhaps bring your cancelled appointment closer than 3 months.

    Best wishes

  • Yes, I agree with what you've written too. I can go to my GP feeling ill, but after I've seen him I feel so much better, I could skip home!

    The question is what can we do, or what do we need so that we can feel well all the time?

    Wonder what it's like being married to a doctor?

  • Jean you are so right. It's happened on a few occasions I have an appointment with whoever and feel so well I cancel it and then hey presto..... Within a few hours off I go.

    The number of times I've posted on this site saying how well things are going - that's the kiss of death. Is it psychological ,coincidence or Sod's law ? I'm now reluctant to say anything and tempt fate.

    Hope you're feeling better


  • Hi Fi - I know exactly what you mean. I never say things like my car's really reliable, or I haven't had any spiders in my house!

    If it is mind power that's behind how our hearts behave then how on earth can we get it into our heads that we do not have AF and feel extremely well?

    Ohhh, somebody help us pleeeez!

  • It does make sense because stress is a known trigger, and even if you're only stressing subconsciously the same physical things are going on. I do wonder sometimes whether hypnotism could be the answer.


  • You may have hit the nail on the head there Lis. Now I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried hypnotism. Perhaps we should hire a theatre and have a huge cure AF session with a hypnotist. It certainly makes you think!!!

  • I like that idea... Imagine if we all walked out cured!

  • You are absolutely right Jean. I have stopped cancelling appointments now no matter how well I am doing as, bingo, it all kicks in again. The power of the mind is huge consciously or subconsciously . Yes I agree that hypnosis may well be a treatment worth undergoing.

  • It looks as though the answer then is to take control of our minds (if that's possible). I have a friend who is a homeopath and I can remember her saying, What comes first the symptoms of a cold or the 'thought' that you may be getting one.

  • I have often wondered about the heart monitor thing I must admit!

  • Perhaps the cure is to always wear a heart monitor and be connected to a medical control centre, so that they can see what's happening. It does make you think!

  • I agree.......I have been trying to use a bit of meditation - only 10 minutes mindfulness - every day to keep myself calmer (when i can find the time to do it..ha! ha!). Not sure it it working or not...but my thoughts are it can't do any harm!!

    Similarly, I have also wondered about these "yogis" (no funny comments please!) who are strict buddhists or whatever and can slow their heart rate down by breathing control.....I am sure I haven't imagined reading about can see where I am going here.......any thoughts on this?

  • Hmm, yes interesting re the 'yogis'. Now I live not too far away from a town called Totnes, which is known as the resting place of the hippies. I'm wondering if they have any Budhist style of meditation groups in that area. I feel sure they will and will think about looking into that.

  • Hi, I have been having CBT for generalised anxiety problems which I know have contributed to my AF. After attending for a number of weeks now, and wondering if it was doing any good, just this week I have noticed that within a few moments after waking up my heart no longer starts whacking along as it has done for a long time and palpitations, of which I have many, now seem much less. It is not easy to change your thought patterns that have been long established but hope this is just the start of a more peaceful heart time. It all makes you think that treatment of AF for some people should be be approached in more of a holistic way. Best wishes Kath.

  • That's so interesting re the CBT and the fact that you've noticed a difference in your heart. I may have a word with my GP about that. Do you have a one to one session or is it with a group?

  • Hi Jeanjeannie, I have a one to one session and have had about 7 sessions so far. I went for something less intense, prior to this last May but the practitioner felt I needed CBT. It is helping me to rationalise my thinking to help me stop reaching an awful conclusion to my worries and is helping me to deal with uncertainty which I find hard. I went along thinking it would teach me how to not worry at all and felt at first the whole thing was a waste of time as I still worried, but slowly I have found myself working through the worry. I realise now I will always worry but am now working towards not letting it take over my life. This last week I realised that ultimately it is down to me to try and get my life back on track and slowly throughout the week I have realised that palpitations are much less, I can't feel my heart pounding as much and that I am waking up without my heart racing as it usually does. I am trying to think positively that this is a result of the therapy. I would say go for it there is nothing to lose and a lot to gain if it works. My best wishes Kath.

  • Totally agree, and very much my experience as well. The mind is immensely powerful and if you can get some control, it'll help with AF and no doubt many other conditions.

    I used to get the same with hospitals. I felt calm and safe, and when I left I sometimes sensed a concern inside, or at least I did when it was all new to me.

    Not so bothered now as I think this forum has removed this problem for me, maybe because I don't feel alone, unsafe or out of control. Not sure how to describe it, I suppose a bit like a safe pair of hands available any time. Just brill.


  • So true about the support of this site making us feel so much better. I'm just looking for the key to how I can be totally cured. There are some really some thought provoking responses to my post.

  • I agree. The power of the mind over the body can be phenomenal. Someone on another forum put up a poster with the words ‘Sometimes you have to be strong when you feel like giving up, have to fight when you want to run away. Because it is all you can do to keep going,'

    I added a proviso to this with the following paragraph which shows what control the brain can have over the body. It’s a great pity that we don’t understand it more.

    “You also need someone or something to be strong for. Those who are alone, or who just feel alone, are at a great disadvantage. When I had an SCA whilst driving (70mph on a crowded motorway), everything went black and I seemed to be falling into a little vortex somewhere at the bottom right of the darkness. It’s difficult for me to put into words what happened, but it was a real life or death battle - one which I expected to lose, either to what I assumed at the time was a heart attack or to a horrific car crash! I was convinced that I was about to draw my last breath, when from nowhere came – “I can’t die yet, I haven’t said goodbye to my loved ones”. That somehow allowed me to tap into an almost superhuman strength which kept me from the complete collapse and loss of consciousness which normally happens when someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest. It really would have been so easy to let the blackness take over and slip into a deep sleep, but somehow with that thought at the forefront of my mind I managed to battle against overwhelming odds long enough for my heart rhythm to settle back to normal. Without that extra power surge I am certain that I would have died, and taken a few more with me too.”

    I did put the experience into words actually - 8 pages of them – so I guess it will become a part of the family history one day!


  • What a fascinating story Cyril. Would love to read the 8 pages you wrote. There's so much in this world that we don't understand. I guess if everyone talks about their experiences, each one is another little piece added into the solution puzzle of AF and indeed life itself.

  • The 8 pages are not only about the SCA’s Jean. They cover the events leading up to them, the hospitalization and what I did when I got back home. To date only two people other than me have seen it, none of them family members. If you really are interested, then I can e-mail you a copy if you let me have your e-mail address. Tissues at the ready though probably!

  • Hi Cyril. I'd be really interested to read that too if I may. I'll pm you

  • Hi Cyril. I'd be really interested to read that too if I may. I'll pm you

  • wow! Now THAT'S and incredible story to tell the grandkids Cyril!! How awful scary that must have been for you and yes, I agree with the'surge' of determination NOT to give in.

    It all makes me wonder though if in my own case my AF is a phsycosamatic thingy? Lordy its real enough when I'm in AF....and scary as I do live alone. Will await the next outcome of this attached monitor...the one thats itching me like crazy!!! Stay well.

    Blue :-)

  • When it was happening, I didn’t have time to be scared. The number one lesson to be learned though is obviously ‘don’t panic’. It's only when you look back on these things that you realise the enormity of the situation.

  • This is the vagal nerve I believe, it affects me also. The way I am using to try to overcome it's impact it is I tell my wife I am going to my 'monastery' and for up to an hour most evenings I practice mindfulness, Qigong and prayer.

    The problem won't be removed but I am a great believer in some reduction can make a lot of difference. I also find changing routines generally can reduce the Pavlov reaction.

  • Yes, that Pavlov reaction is an interesting point. Perhaps we feel those extra beats in our heart which we then react to, by going into full blown AF. So much food for thought in all the responses to my post.

  • agreed. great post Jean. sorry you are struggling - hope posting helped!

  • I think the answers to my post have been amazing, so much to think about now in my search for a cure for AF. I'm convinced the mind is the culprit!!

  • Power of the mind.

    Excellent question Jane. I had a major RTA over twenty years ago and had lots of therapy etc.

    1 The power of metaphors: think what the pain or the discomfort feels like: say gravel on a path and so gritty when using the wheelbarrow: invent brush and brush off the gravel: Magic: the pain disappears!

    2 The power of not breathing: breathe in, out and then hold off the next breath for five to ten seconds. Then in: out: hold again for five minutes. My wife and I tried to do it every hour and we both managed to lower our HR every time.

    3 If you can't manage to change your habits try This site makes your life into a game but you set yourself your own 'tasks/habits' which are difficult. Change can be achieved with the game and motivation is via Guilds which build community.

    Thanks to support here I bought the Alivecor app for my iPhone: great to get a sense of control via measurement.

    One final idea: 'distraction' is a great pain management technique so ... Stop obsessing and get on with life! ... If only I could follow my own advice!!

  • I know what you mean. We're all good at giving advice to others, but when it comes to ourselves we appear to go into an infant mode and cannot see a solution. I have just copied the link you have given and will certainly have a look at it. I think it's amazing how you can reduce your heart rate.

    In your post, section 2, second line, should that really say hold your breath for five 'seconds' and not 'minutes'?

    I'm amazed at the things I've discovered in answer to my post. Thank you for your helpful response.

  • Oh how I agree, when family or friends ask me how I am doing and Im feeling well and say so, almost always that evening I develop one of the `bad heads` that some from time to time. Happened this week and every tea time I have felt one building up to a crescendo about 9pm. Im on Pradaxa and a beta blocker, heart starts jumping and takes a couple of days to settle. Hey-ho

  • Deep down I've always had the feeling that there is a simple cure for AF. From what's been written in answer to my post I have the feeling our minds have a lot to answer for.

  • Totally agree

  • I totally agree with you Jean. Anxiety is a big factor in AF - just sitting waiting to see medic causes me to have symptoms including higher blood pressure when normally it's fine. I had a event recorder for two weeks with nothing to record!

    Hope the ticker has settled down now for you. The power of the mind is a strange thing!


  • I feel the mind has a lot to answer for. Perhaps learning how to control it is the solution. Thank you for your response.

  • I think the worst thing one can do is sit/lie worrying about it when in AF as that just makes us feel even more anxious & hence make the HR even more erratic (mind over matter) but easier said than done - I know.

    Ok deep breathes everyone! Think fluffy clouds LOL

  • Agree with Ally. I suffer from white coat syndrome big time. I do not find hospitals at all reassuring and they do not make me feel calm or safe.

  • No, being in hospital doesn't make me feel calm and safe either. Have had some awful experiences in them, which really point to neglect. I think trying to take our minds off of AF can really help. Well it does for me, especially if I go and shower and get ready to go out despite my heart hammering away.

  • When I was first diagnosed with Af, I met a lot of interesting, highly educated and dedicated medical professionals from humble student nurse’s to esteemed professors,

    Many have spent many years diagnosing and treating patients with Af,

    Not one of them told me I could control my heartbeat by thinking differently, and believe me I have tried in vain! ,

    however they did tell me I had faulty electrical signals that could probably be fixed by having an ablation, which they did 18 months ago.

  • Did your ablation cure your AF?

  • Yes....... July 2013, so far all Ok, it transformed my life........:-)

  • Oh you lucky thing! Which EP did your ablation and where?

  • St Bart’s, London,

    Can’t remember who the EP was, it didn’t matter I was desperate, I would have let the cleaner do it.

    It wasn’t luck, it was persistence and hard work, it took me 2 .5 years to get an ablation, my business was bust, I was bust, because I couldn’t function, I had ground to a halt because of Af, my life was hell, the Af episodes became more frequent upto 3 episodes a week, 24/36 hour a episode

    I had private medical cover but it didn’t cover Cardiac, I’m a much wiser man now , I read the small print !

    looking back I should have pushed more and considered going to another health authority, way outside london where the waiting times are less I believe

  • If your ablation cured the problem, then thank goodness you didn't go anywhere else. So many people on here have not been cured by having ablations and I'm one of them. After having two I've been told that because the scarring in my heart is so extensive they can't do any more for me. I'm now left with bouts of disabling tachycardia that goes on for months and is usually only halted by my having a cardioversion. I started with AF about 9 years ago.

    I still think you are lucky to have been cured by having one ablation.

    Stay well.

  • I think you’re really brave having had two ablations only to find they didn’t solve the problem, life sometimes is just so unfair , now I fully understand why you say I’m lucky…..yes I am,

    I hadn’t really thought about the possibility of it not working for me or others up until now that is, I feel ashamed I’ve been so short-sighted, not fully grasping that it doesn’t work for, or that not everyone can have it done, I can only apologise to all if I’ve been offensive, or uncaring

    wish you good health..

  • Interesting subject and one I have studied, in depth, for some 20 odd years. My conclusions to days-:

    Newtonian mechanistic thinking led us into a trap ie that we can break things down and understand how they work. We can to a certain extent, but as the human mind can only comprehend 7 levels of interactivity, and there is just so much more in the universe that is still Great Mystery, we only really understand about 3% of what goes on.

    The mind is a manifestation of the body and vice versa. You cannot and should not speak of it as if it is separate entity to your body or spirit. You are a being which all events manifested internally or externally will directly affect your wellbeing.

    As you know I was a psychotherapist for over 20 years and what I used as a basis for my practice, both personal and professional, was Field Theory, very much simplified - what is of the Field will influence the Field.

    Body, mind and spirit are one it is just that we are so out of awareness and so taken up with our own thoughts that we have forgotten that we have body and spirit, until they jump up and down so loudly that they remind us.

    I could write for ever on this subject, very dear to my heart but if you would like to know more read Caroline Myss, she wrote a book called How some people Heal, and why some people don't, but has written extensively about health and wellbeing and mind and sprit and that you for remind me to read her again!

  • Interesting stuff CDreamer - I've taken note of the book you have recommended and will see if my library has, or can get, a copy for me. thank you for your response.

  • The power of the mind thread is an interesting post. To me the mind is the most powerful organ in the body. I have seen people destroyed by their mind ruining an otherwise idyllic existence and physically disabled people able to cope with their illness whilst still able to find joy in their life, form better relationships than those with mental incapacity and still have enough left to give to others.

    I fear the danger that lies in the mentality that says positive thinking can change physical reality (paralysis and dodgy heart electrics don’t always respond well – my CBT did nothing for my heart condition though being patronised by the medical profession may have increased my stress and blood pressure making it worse). Often state of mind can trigger physical symptoms; particularly stress and anxiety that afflicts many people but many times physical injury or illness is due to mere chance or circumstance and no amount of thinking it different can change that reality. Where the mind can and does help is being able to make decisions on treatment and support and also be able to cope and manage any new reality.

    Where the mind is most powerful is when fully engaged in taking in, evaluating and acting upon information. To discern the difference between those things that are best accepted and those that can be influenced is important. To take on board knowledge, but take account of the source and trust you have in that. To freely chose when to take account of others views and when to stick to your guns. When to act and when to resist acting (boy is that one difficult for some of us). To build relationships that offer the support and love you need. To recognise who you are warts and all and accept it, to know who means you well and who and what can cause you harm (and ideally act accordingly).

    Every post I have seen on on this forum is from people who have a burning desire for life and better health. That in itself is a hugely positive thing and added to that motivated individuals who are willing to give their time and share their knowledge and experience to support scared, vulnerable, confused or newly diagnosed people to better manage their condition makes it a very valuable and trustworthy resource. Long may the debate rage about the balance between either the mind or body being boss; it means we are all actively seeking the best way to improve our own health and reality.


  • Well said Jo!

    I think if we have great trust in someone, be it GP, EP etc and believe that what they say as 100% the truth, that alone can help to heal/cure us. Unfortunately, I no longer have that trust and now try to follow my intuition with regard to helping my heart. I also sometimes wonder if some GP's etc have the natural gift of healing and that's why they feel drawn to that profession. so many times a trip to the surgery results in us almost skipping out feeling instantly better.

    If only more research could be carried out into what actually causes our ailments rather than finding a medical cure once we have the problem!

    I agree with you, the power of the mind is greatly under rated and is a healing source that needs to be tapped.

  • Very well said Jo. I strongly agree with your post. Sandra

  • Hello Jean - Yes I believe you are right. I too have proven that thoughts/feeling/fears etc trigger a "fight or flight" response in the body which among other things must give an adrenaline rush causing a rise in blood pressure and heart rate, which of course is a natural and necessary reaction in certain situations.

    Because it can happen subconsciously, it is hard to control and quite distressing. I am gradually training myself to totally relax and try not to think of "what could happen". I have chosen not to have an ablation for AF and I live in a permanent state of AF ( which my cardio specialist assures me is not dangerous). After a couple of weeks I found I "adjusted" and now I dont even think about it. Vigorous effort can sometimes make me feel a bit light headed for a short time, but other than that it is not a problem and I am very relaxed about the situation. I am on warfarin to reduce the risk of stroke ( my age is 65years). I am still very interested in the subject and a possible cure for AF but I feel the current options are only treating the symptoms and not the cause - probably because the medical profession don't know the cause. The options of ablation or the maze proceedure I find a little "barbaric". Incidently, when I first developed AF I was very symptomatic and used to semi-panic until I reverted to sinus. I am not sure why, but since needing 3 stents to repair restricted arteries about 18mths ago my AF symptoms are almost non noticeable. I am assuming that this is because maybe the restrictions were causing a "buffer"in the blood flow which has now been relieved. I hope this helps - Best Wishes - Derek - Christchurch New Zealand.

  • To whoever started this post...Jean Jeanie????..........its so long now, I have not got time to read them all........thanks for a great topic....I have really enjoyed reading everyones comments on the Power of the to look for a yogi on the isle of Wight!! : )

  • Hi Jean - even though I haven't been on this site for ages after reading your post I felt I had to respond. The power of my mind definitely works for me as instead of being anxious and worried all the time I've decided to accept that I have permanent AF and can do nothing about it. I've been told that due to my distended atria my cardiologist has decided that an ablation would only keep me in sinus rhythm for a few months before I flipped back. I've therefore decided to just live with it rather than fight it all the time and hope that I'll eventually die with it rather than of it.

  • I agree totally with what you have said Heather. I'm trying to do the same. It's just a shame that it takes a long time before we can realise that accepting our AF and getting on with life is the best way forward. I know it's taken years for me to come to this conclusion and stop wondering if an attack of paroxysmal tachycardia was going to be the end of me .

  • Fantastic and interesting topic Jean. Well done you for creating this great debate. I wonder if our cardiologists would agree with our mind power and acceptance of what we are living with or would they just prefer to focus on the clinical treatment line??

  • That sounds like it could be a post on it's own. Let's face it, if we could control our AF by mind power the EP's wouldn't have a job! I managed to halt my tachycardia early this morning by holding my breath in between taking deep breaths. Someone on this forum said they did this to bring their pulse rate down. Thank goodness for this site! I've learnt more on here than from the medical profession.

  • You are right l was told years ago that the body can repair its self if we let it but we don't listen Gordon

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