Matters of the Heart

The Secret and Science of Love

Heartbroken, Heart sick, Heart sore, Heart Felt, Take it to Heart, Heart of the Matter, Remember by Heart    Why are these so important?

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”Oscar Wilde

“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love. Henry Miller

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” The Buddha
“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." Dr. Seuss

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” Sophocles

Why do so many of us have a difficult relationship with love? Perhaps it started with over reliance on  thinking and reason; "I think therefore I am". Perhaps it began with the Age of Reason sweeping Europe that was a rebellion against rule by the Church and Monarchs. Science and skepticism became favored over faith and servitude and reason became the primary source of authority and legitimacy. Eventually this trend gave way to Romanticism in Europe as art and beauty were needed to balance the rational mind.

It seems America is long overdue for a similar reawakening as our true and loving self took a backseat to the intellect and let it became the guiding force. This extended out to our world as we became overly reliant on and reactive to external events. This created a nation of rugged individualists ready and willing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but left many bewildered and alone.

These factors were ever more exaggerated for those who grew up in dysfunctional families and environments as we often lost touch with our heart, instinct, intuition, ground of being, and very soul. The mind, brain, and thinking became all powerful and important. Rationality and reasoning became God as we became addicted to thinking like an alcoholic is to drinking, so for us "think is our drink". Yet the love in our hearts, fire in our belly, and lightening in our veins never went out completely.

Our separation and isolation can also be said to have a biological basis as the mind receives information from two eyes, two ears, and two nostrils to judge space, distance, and threats stereoscopically. The mind also separates things to create inner and outer, here or there, and us or them thinking. Conversely as the head separates the heart unifies, and makes all others, life, and creation one. Perhaps we can let the mind or the heart take the lead when prudent and necessary. 
A happy heart affects our health many ways. For instance happy people have one third less heart problems, live longer, and have less risks of all kinds of illness. Intense anger makes a person five times more vulnerable to heart attack and three times more vulnerable to stroke. Intense grief at the death of a loved one makes us twenty one times more vulnerable to heart attack for the first twenty four hours, and six times higher for several weeks. Experiencing extremely stressful events (PTSD) also significantly raises risks. Scientist have discovered the heart can also sense, fear, learn, and remember, and heart rhythms affect the brain and body in many ways.

Heart specialist Dean Ornish states in his 2004 TED talk that ninety nine percent of his heart disease study patients improved significantly, and many dramatically after switching to a healthy lifestyle of good diet, rest, moderate exercise, and supportive community. Normally heart disease only gets worse. It didn't matter how old or sick they were, as the determining factor was how much they were change, and the more they did the more their health improved. The well being of these people improved in many other areas as well.

Many of us  have been living an "out-of-body" experience for decades as our soul and spirit seemingly moved into our heads and our "being" was overcome by seeking, doing, and possessing. Our hearts passion became ego ambition endlessly seeking possessions and pleasures to "complete" us and fill the emptiness we felt as we ran from pain and discomfort and after our desires.
The brain tends to monopolize our attention with its 86 billion neurons. Mind functions can be broken down three ways if we acknowledge the triune/three brain concept of the reptilian, mammalian (limbic), and higher order neocortex brains. This adds a very powerful and interesting dimension as under stress we default to the lower order functions of fight, flight, or freeze. Reptiles tend to be more combative than cooperative so we are wise to find ways to avoid stressing out and losing our minds and hearts to a lizard like existence.  

One psychologist has patients sit in one chair to speak from the heart, and another chair to speak from the mind. Patients often find this exercise very enlightening and gives an interesting representation of how we consider the heart and mind to have differing natures and input to our lives. Although we often consider them separate entities, they can be good partners working together for us as a whole. Some, perhaps wiser cultures see no separation or contrast between heart and mind, as they find them to work as a unified whole.

While we are looking at the head and the heart it is worthwhile to consider the gut as well, as biologically this was our first "heart" or home, as the gut is also how some of the earliest and most basic life forms came about and still exist; like tiny stomachs munching away at their environment like a Pac Man video game. Higher functions came much later. The gut even has a "mind" of its own with 100 million neurons, and sends more signals to the brain than it receives. This is also true of the heart with its 40,000 neurons.

Personally it was our first home as we spent our first nine months in our mothers belly in the womb.  We were even fed our life energy through the umbilical cord to our gut. This physical connection also went from our mother to hers, and hers, and hers, and so on, so as stunning as it seems, each of us has a real and true life connection going back for millions of years.

Intuition is also in the gut as "gut reactions". Perhaps this is why we say "go with your gut", or "trust your gut". Eckhart Tolle teaches that if the head and the gut feel differently about something, trust the gut as it somehow knows intuitively what is right. This is also true of the heart. You may also easily imagine Higher Power residing at a gut level as we do, as the wise and powerful energy of intuition.

This emphasis on head over heart was a necessary evolutionary cycle for us to survive and thrive but it has served its purpose and gone too far. Like the prodigal child it is time for a homecoming. We now need to spend at least as much time in our hearts as we do on our heads. Finding this center, source, and essential home again brings a peace, joy, beauty, and uniting love that is primordial and preverbal, so beyond description.

This is true power, true life, and true love manifesting through our internal essential self and being, our True Self. This love is our anchor and safe harbor, and the sound foundation upon which to build our lives. Hopefully this understanding will help you feel the hands, heart, and wisdom of a deeply loving power in your gut, heart, and mind, and carry it out to the world through your eyes, words, and hands.