“Through the door of the open heart the universe is known”
The Heart as the Primary Organ of Perception
Excerpted from Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery
Data enters through the heart first and is transmitted to the brain, which categorizes it and sends it to the body – including the heart – so that a two-way communication constantly occurs between the heart and the brain. There are four ways the heart communicates with the brain: neurologically (transmission of nerve impulses);biochemically (hormones and neurotransmitters); biophysically (pressure waves); and energetically (electromagnetic field interactions).
There are over 40,000 nerve cells in the heart as well as neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and dopamine (known emotional mediators), that the heart synthesizes and releases. “With every beat of the heart, a burst of neural activity is relayed to the brain,” Martin explains [Doc Childre and Howard Martin of the HearthMath Solution]. The heart senses hormonal, (heart) rate and pressure information, translates it into neurological impulses and processes this information. The neurological signals that the heart sends the brain have a regulatory influence on many of the autonomic nervous system signals that flow out of the heart, to the blood vessels, and to the other glands and organs.” The signals do not stop there though; they continue to the higher centers of the brain that affect emotional processing, decision making and reasoning.
Paraphrased [ANF – atrial naturetic factor is a hormone of the heart that effects the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and many of the regulatory regions of the brain. It inhibits the release of stress hormones, plays a part in hormonal pathways that stimulate the function and growth of our reproductive organs and may interact with the immune system.]
The energetic connection between the brain and heart is created by the heart’s electromagnetic field which Childre describes, “by far the most powerful produced by the body; it’s approximately five thousand times greater in strength than the field produced by the brain. The heart’s field not only permeates every cell in the body but also radiates outside us; it can be measured up to eight to ten feet away.”
The heart’s powerful rhythm tends to entrain other body rhythms. To entrain is to “draw along with or after oneself”…Entrainment was defined by a clockmaker that put a pendulum clock in a room with all of his other clocks. They all began to tick in harmony. This happened because the pendulum with the largest and strongest rhythm pulled or “drew” the others into synchrony so that they were all on the same wavelength. Entrainment can also happen in music so that when many different instruments are in entrainment a beautiful symphony ensues, but without entrainment there is dissonance. Among people, when entrainment occurs, there is connection and true communication. When you say, “Oh I get it,” entrainment is occurring, and it is only during entrainment that true learning and understanding can take place. When the heart, the largest oscillation or pendulum in the body, emits coherent rhythms and the brain entrains with them, “we’re at optimal functioning capacity,” according to Martin.
Positive Impulses to the Heart
It is only recently that the heart has begun to move out of the arena of sentimentality and take its rightful place as the primary organ – the pilot…There is an exquisite discussion of the head and heart in Glenda Green’s book, Love Without End that helps us to understand the head and heart relationship from the perspective of the Sacred Heart.
The abilities of the mind by itself are fairly limited. It is linear by nature in that it needs two fixed points of reference in order to function. It has no understanding of infinity because its two points of reference create polarities that result in dualistic action. The mind without heart brings about abstraction, causing a lack of connection to what’s real which leads to chaos. Comparatively, “the heart is a magnetic vortex through which the blessings of all essences and potentialities are received, integrated and focused into living. Through the laws of electromagnetism, that power is converted into life energy. By comparison to the mind, the heart is a function of intelligence based on the ultimate in simplicity and synchronicity. Its matrix is a synergistic center of awareness which perceives a unified relationship with all that is.” It is not my intention to badmouth the brain; I am suggesting there has been an overemphasis on its singular abilities, and how we use our brains is what we must reinvent..
When the brain and the heart work coherently, creativity flourishes, communication flows, and healing takes place. Childre and Martin’s research shows that the positive heart-based feelings of appreciating, love, compassion and care “generate the smooth and harmonious HRV (heart rate variability) rhythms that are considered to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance.” There are many “core heart feelings,” but the simplest and easiest to access is one of gratitude or appreciation. Showing appreciation elicits an immediate response in your body that lessens the stress response, causes entrainment with the brain, and affects the electromagnetic field around you with ordered coherence. It is easy to come into coherence while in a state of gratitude, because your heart responds immediately to any appreciation you can elicit even if it is not about the situation at hand. This causes your nervous system to naturally come into balance, lessens the burden of stress and frees up energy to be available for creative outlet. Gratitude is a highly magnetic state…when one is in the state of gratitude, it is returned to you easily. Many religions suggest that prayers are to be ones of gratitude instead of asking for this or that and that by nearly being sincerely grateful, blessings will come to you tenfold.
Another positive impulse for the heart is that of innocent perception. This is a state of nonjudgment in which your view is like looking through the eyes of a child…you see the world anew with freshness and are able to be present…Judgment is part of our fight or flight mechanism and helps keep us safe. However the dangers we face…are different than those of then thousand years ago. Constant judgment that creates a stress response is more harmful than helpful.
Forgiveness is harder to achieve. Forgiveness must begin with oneself before it can move on to others. But forgiving says Martin…”releases you from the punishment of a self-made prison in which you are both the inmate and the jailer.”