How Your Heart May Be Your Wisest Brain
Have you ever felt so touched by something that you automatically put your hand on your heart? Or have you made a decision with your “head” to do something but then felt your “heart” wasn’t in it?
We have all associated the heart with love and being an organ that pumps blood carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout our body, but what we haven’t understood until recently is that the heart is actually its own functional “brain” that also has an energetic influence that far outreaches the brain.
In my coaching practice, I have seen time and again how much happier someone feels when they tune into their heart and connect to life from this place of heart resonance where one can feel all the C’s: Calm, Curious, Compassionate, Caring, Connected, Creative, Confident, Clarity and Courage. Yet, we have largely been conditioned to lead from our heads and to focus on logical reasoning.
But newer research on the ability and effects of the heart on our overall functioning and well-being is now allowing us to put logic and science to why it may be better to listen to your heart when leading your life.
How Your Heart’s Influence Is Greater Than Your Head’s Influence
Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that we have a “heart brain” with a vast array of neurons that are processing sensory information on their own and communicating that information to our brain, nervous system and other organ systems. This means the heart is able to learn, remember, and make decisions independent of the brain. Proof of this comes from heart transplant cases where the person who has received the heart suddenly has memories, experiences, and emotions of their deceased donors.
According to the HearthMath Institute, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing.
It has also been shown that the heart generates the body’s most powerful electromagnetic field that is 100x stronger electrically, and 1000x stronger magnetically than the brain’s fields.
What does this mean? It means that through it’s neural (electrical) and magnetic fields, the heart has the most powerful ability to both take in large amounts of sensory information that influences our brain and internal system and it has the ability (with it’s expansive energetic/magnetic field) to influence our surroundings.
In short, the heart is a major resource for information, wisdom, and influence over our internal and external experiences.
The Negative Effects Of Stress On The Heart
The heart is incredibly powerful and most of us can experience its power through the emotions we experience. Strong feelings of sadness, grief and also joy and elation can come from the heart and also influence the heart.
We can all feel the effects on our heart under stress and strong emotions: our heart beats faster and our blood pressure rises. Studies have also shown that intense emotions, such as anger, have an adverse effect on the heart and can increase the risk of heart attacks. Intense grief can also affect the heart as shown in studies where there is a greatly increased risk of a heart attack after losing a loved one. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study further shows that early life stress can significantly increase the chances of cardiovascular disease later in life.
As stress can adversely affect the physical functioning of the heart, the heart can, in turn, affect the cognitive and emotional functions of the brain. Studies have shown that during stress and negative emotions the heart rhythm pattern becomes erratic and disordered and this sends neural signals to the brain to inhibit higher cognitive functions. This results in not being able to think as clearly, remember, learn, reason and make effective decisions. The heart’s erratic patterns send stress signals to the brain, which then influence the emotional processes of the brain to go into a stress pattern as well. It’s fascinating to understand that the heart can override and greatly influence the functioning of the brain.
Through the heart’s electric and magnetic field, information is not only communicated throughout the body and brain, but also to the external environment. This is why a strongly negative person can have the ability to influence our state or a very loving person can have the ability to shift us into a positive state. Our hearts have a huge magnetic field of energy capable of influencing those around us.
The Power Of The Heart Under Positive States Of Emotions
In more positive emotional states, the heart produces a more ordered and stable pattern, which sends inputs to the brain of positive feelings and emotional stability, thereby creating better cognitive functioning as well.
We can all probably understand this from a real-life perspective…When you feel good (more positive emotions), you can think more clearly, feel more motivated and learn better. Therefore, practicing positive emotions and feeling them from the heart (thus creating a more stable heart pattern) has the potential to greatly affect how you feel, think and perform, both mentally and physically.
If the heart has this powerful electric and magnetic field that can influence our brain, then we can learn to entrain the heart patterns to then influence the maladaptive patterns our brain may have developed from earlier life trauma and ongoing stress. In a sense, we have a window of opportunity to influence our overall well-being not only through brain rewiring but through heart entraining. In addition to the popular “brain training” methods, we can consider “heart training” too as another door into changing our emotional and physical health.
Many of us who have experienced trauma and chronic stress may not have a well-integrated brain, which can lead to more overwhelm, anxiety and dysfunctional behaviors. Well, entraining the heart can have a large influence over creating better functioning in our brains and nervous systems.
How To Lead From Your Heart
If the heart starts beating in the unborn fetus before the brain has been formed, then perhaps it is fitting that you lead your life from the heart?
We can see from the science that the heart is seemingly more like a second brain that is able to make decisions irrespective of your “thinking” brain, and in fact can override your thinking and emotional brain. The heart also directs and aligns many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another. Lastly, intuition is known to arise from the heart and it is considered the place from which authenticity and the truth of who you are comes from. From this perspective it would make sense to allow the intelligence of your heart to be the driving force of your life as it is from this place that order, knowing, peace, love, and creation arise (in addition to the C’s of life mentioned at the beginning of this article).
Leading from the heart in a way that has positive effects both internally on your mind, emotions, and body and externally on those around you requires entraining your heart to the ordered rhythmic patterns that then create a more powerful electric and magnetic field of influence. You can do this by engaging in heart-centered activities such as self-compassion, self-forgiveness, having compassion and forgiveness for others, opening your heart and practicing more heart connections with people as well as gratitude practices.
You can also do this by using devices such as Unyte’s iom2 device which measures your HRV through resonance and helps to entrain your heart rhythms through breathing and biofeedback. In addition, the iom2 journeys Relaxing Rhythms, Relaxing Rhythms 2 and Mindfulness Meditation with Tara Brach include compassion and forgiveness and can further enhance heart entrainment.
Lastly, you can get into heart resonance through deep meditations of gratitude and loving-kindness, and sometimes, simply putting your hand on your heart can stimulate a softening and opening that helps your heart move into resonance and connection.
For years we have been conditioned to lead from our logical brains, but we can see from the science and also through our own felt experiences that there is much wisdom to factoring in your heart when leading your life. In fact, considering the power of the influence of the magnetic field of the heart, it may in a sense be easier to create change and transformation through what may be our greatest energetic strength!
Afshan Tafler is a Whole Life Coach who helps you discover your power to transform your health and your life. Through a combination of Mind-Body Coaching and transformational, scientifically proven energy psychology techniques, her expertise is to help you reprogram your mind and body for optimal health. You can connect with Afshan at www.illuminateu.ca.