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Natural Awakenings

Poetic Art for the Heart: Healthy Poems

It turns out that reciting poetry with a good beat can give our heart a break. German researchers discovered that walking around a room breathing in time to a poem with lines long enough to afford a long, full exhale can calm our heartbeat. It also works to enhance how well our heart rests and recuperates from daily stresses. According to the International Journal of Cardiology, the latter signals decreased risk of out-of-rhythm heartbeats and even heart attack or stroke.

“Recitation links body and soul–mind, breath and body–in a unique way,” says researcher Dietrich von Bonin of the Institute for Complementary Medicine at the University of Bern. He suggests using verse comprised of long lines with “three or four repeated rhythmical stresses throughout each line.” Rhyme is optional.

Samples of effective poems include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha,” almost anything by Charles Kingsley or modern poems with the requisite long lines and rhythmic pattern.


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