'Mind in control'-An evening with Dr. Gil Heart
By Pamela Ruben
Our daily lives are filled with stress; we are faced with stressors in the workplace, stressors on our commute as we make our way home, and family stressors as we walk through the front door. On Sunday, Oct. 19, Chabad of North Orlando presented Dr. Gill Heart who delivered a seminar on taking control of these stressors that impact our daily lives. Dr. Heart, who holds a PhD in biomedical engineering, honed his skills in stress management on the job as a special operative of the elite IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), in which he served for six years.
Dr. Heart began his seminar, titled "Mind in Control," with a harrowing tale of a covert but declassified IDF operation that took place in the late 1980s. Several experienced and well-trained IDF agents were on a special mission. They had just minutes to complete an operation that had been rehearsed hundreds of time, but this time behind enemy lines. Dr. Heart shared that these agents were "just regular people, like you and I." Yet, they were able to control their pounding hearts, and frayed nerves to complete their mission, and then to disappear without a trace. Dr. Heart stated, "Few of you will ever experience this kind of extreme stress, but daily stressors take their toll on all of us. Mind in Control uses techniques adapted from IDF training to help control the triggers of stress."
Dr. Heart explained that while we cannot control our daily stressors, we can control our own emotional responses to stress. "Rather than responding emotionally to internal and external triggers, we can learn to minimize the impact of these events," he said.
Dr. Heart led the audience of approximately 85 through interactive exercises throughout the hour-and-a-half-long workshop, simulating both stress and stress relief. During the first exercise, Heart distributed 32-ounce water bottles to members of the audience. Participants were instructed to hold a heavy water bottle in each hand while extending their arms. Nervous laughter filled the room as audience members quickly tired. Heart noted that just a few minutes of discomfort, can put stress on our entire bodies, down to the last cell. Later, Heart introduced exercises to disconnect the brain connection causing the physical discomfort. He noted that simple tasks like smiling and taking deep breaths interrupted the stress, allow the mind to remain in control. Heart shared that many of his concepts were rooted in his torah and cabbalistic studies, and that members of the IDF prepared for their operations using similar techniques.
Throughout the seminar, Heart increased the stress on audience members. Dividing the room into men and women, he had partners press their foreheads and noses together, creating stress by violating the concept of personal space. Once again, de-stressing exercises were practiced as well. Participants smiled and sighed as instructed, adjusting more rapidly between tasks.
As the evening concluded, Heart received a hardy ovation. "A truly brilliant man, and a pleasure to speak with. He gave me some wonderful mind-control techniques and ideas that can really help me be a better person, and therefore a better Jew," said audience member Fred Schulman.