Since ancient times humans have had the innate knowing that the human heart has a mind of it’s own. The heart feels, thinks and remembers. Everyone has experienced literal heartache from emotional pain, a heaviness of the heart when something is wrong, or an exhilaration, and lightness of the heart when experiencing love, joy, or gratitude.
Modern Western science has put great emphasis on the human brain as the primary organ of the body which is responsible for dictating all bodily functions. And although, for the past few hundreds years science has told us that the brain is in command, sayings such as, “follow your heart,” “I know this by heart,” “Their heart is in the right place,” “A heart of gold,” or “A broken heart,” are still commonly used in everyday conversations.
“The Little Brian in the Heart”
Today there is scientific proof of what we have always intuitively known. Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s visionary physiologists John and Beatrice Lacey dedicated their research to finding proof that the heart thinks independently and sends messages to the brain as well as receives them. Their discoveries showed that the messages sent from the heart to the brain profoundly affect how we perceive and interact with the world around us.
Building on the Lacey’s discoveries, J. Andrew Armour, M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues conducted further research into the anatomy of the heart itself. In 1991 they discovered 40,000 specialized cells in the heart which comprise a complex and intrinsic nervous system. This nervous system contains synapses and neural pathways just like the human brain. Armour called it “The Little Brian in the Heart.”
In 1991, Doc Childre founded the non profit, Northern California based, research and education center HeartMath Institute. This forward thinking organization is dedicated to studying the heart brain and educating the world on how to utilize its full potential. Scientists have discovered that the heart and the brain are in constant communication with each other and that the heart actually sends more messages than the brain. HeartMath Institute states that the heart communicates with the brain in four ways:
Neurologically- sending transmission through nerve impulses
Biochemically- through hormones and neurotransmitters
Biophysically- via pressure waves
Energetically- by electromagnetic field interactions
HeartMath Institute Director of Research Rollin McCraty states, “The heart is a sensory organ and acts as a sophisticated information encoding and processing center that enables it to learn, remember, and make independent functional decision.”
Harmonizing the Heart and the Brain
Through disciplined practice, one can harmonize the heart and the brain. Working in harmony allows the wiser heart to fully communicate with the brain without the interference of doubts, judgments, or ego. Researchers McCraty and Dana Tomasino explain, “individuals can effectively initiate a repatterning process, whereby habitual emotional patterns underlying stress are replaced with new, healthier patterns that establish increased emotional stability, mental acuity, and physiological efficiency as a new familiar baseline or norm.”
The heart and the brain working in harmony unlocks full body and mind potential. Studies have shown that when the bodies’ systems are working in harmony stress hormones decrease, while mental focus and capacity, information processing, perceptual sensitivity, anti-aging hormones, immune system, and physical performance are all greatly enhanced.
Emotions and Heart Health
Dying of a broken heart is more than a metaphor. Negative emotions significantly affect heart health. Feelings of intense anger or stress increases the risk of heart attack and stroke by three to five times. Grief is even more damaging to the heart, as illustrated in a study published in the journal, Circulation. Researchers Mostofsky E., et al., found that after the loss of a loved one, risk of heart attack increases twenty-one times, and for several weeks after the loss remains six times higher.
Conversely, Positive emotions such as optimism and gratitude reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. A study conducted by Yanek LR, et al., showed that in people in high risk for developing CHD, those who expressed satisfaction with life and feelings of relaxation, cheerfulness, and energy, experienced one-third less events of heart attack. Interestingly, those at highest risk of developing CHD who expressed a positive outlook and emotions experienced an even greater fifty percent reduction of having a heart attack.
Heart Energy Field
Science now knows that there is an energy field that connects everything within our universe as well as energy fields produced by our bodies, thoughts, emotions and even the words we say [insert links to my related articles]. Of all the energy fields produced by our bodies, the heart’s is the strongest. Using SQUID-based magnetometers and sensitive electrostatic detectors, Scientists E. Green, et al., were able to measure the heart’s electromagnetic field (ECG) all over the body as well as reaching several feet away from the heart.
The heart’s electromagnetic field is also the most powerful rhythmic energy field generated by the body. Studies conducted by the HeartMath Institute have found that an individual’s heart ECG can be measured in another person up to five feet away. When an individual is experiencing positive emotions and is in a heart-coherent state, the heart’s ECG becomes more organized. The transference of positive energy is the basis of energy medicine.
Heart Transplants Reveal Memories of the Heart
A fascinating case study of 73 heart transplant recipients gives undeniable proof that the heart holds memories. Dr. Paul Pearsall, clinical neuropsychologist, clinical professor at the University of Hawai`i, best selling author, and highly demanded speaker and consultant, conducted ground-breaking research on the connection between the heart and mind. In fact, his research displayed in his book, The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Energy: The New findings about cellular Memories and their role in the mind/body/spirit connection, spurred the creation of Cleveland Clinic’s Heart/Mind program.
Pearsall’s analysis of the 73 heart transplant recipients show that the cellular communication that takes place throughout the body continues to occur even after an organ is transplanted into another’s body. One of the most astounding cases Pearsall features in his book is that of an 8-year-old girl who received a heart from a 10-year-old female donor. After the surgery, the recipient began to have nightmares about the donor’s murder. From the recipient’s description of the murderer a forensic artist was able to make a composite sketch. Police officers brought the man in for questioning. The recipient remembered many details about the murder, location, and even the words the assailant spoke to the 10-year-old victim. During Police questioning, with no knowledge of the recipient or her testimony, the suspect admitted to the murder and even repeated the same words the recipient had previously told the officials. The man was convicted and sentenced for the murder of the 10-year-old donor, all because her heart remembered.