How many times have we watched or listened to something that really ‘touched our hearts?’ Or, how many of us have experienced or knew someone who suffered from a ‘broken heart?’ Not to forget someone who is just ‘heart-sick’ over what happened. Even when we are faced with a seemingly impossible decision someone will invariably say, “What is your heart telling you?”
Often we touch our hands to our hearts when we feel especially loved, complimented, accepted, or overwhelmed at the generosity another person has shown. Conversely, when we feel wounded, we also feel that wound in our hearts. The hurts, pains disappointments, delayed hopes, and broken dreams of our life are all hidden in the deep chambers of our hearts.
To overcome these hurts we must come to understand that our thought process cannot heal a wounded heart. The brain cries out for understanding, to make sense of the ordeal but the heart searches for love, appreciation, joy and peace. The brain needs to know that the heart really does understand the depth of its own suffering. To understand the depth of our own wounds, we each must learn the language of our own heart.
When the brain remains in the driver’s seat, the heart—the soul, the seat of emotions—can be abused, wounded, exploited, and end up filled with hurt and pain. A heart that is filled with pain is a heart that is stressed, and often depressed.
Your heart is the real you. Even before the brain of a fetus forms, a tiny heart begins to beat. Medical practitioners do not know what makes the heart begin to beat. Researchers believe the brain controls the timing of each beat but the heart does not need the brain to continue a steady, rhythmical beating. When Doctors do a heart-transplant, they sever the nerves running to the deceased person’s brain. When they put the heart into another person they do not know how to reconnect the nerves of the newly installed heart to the brain, so that connection is lost. Nevertheless, the new heart that is jump-started continues to beat.
We know that the heart has memory and has its own independent nervous system. In other words the heart is more than a biological pump. These nerve cells give it a thinking, feeling capability. Researchers have found that while the brain may send instructions to the heart through the nervous system, the heart doesn’t automatically obey. Instead, the heart seems to respond at times as if it is considering the information that it has received. They have come to the conclusion that the heart seems to have an opinion of its own, which it communicates back to the brain.
What is more interesting is the messages the heart sends back to the brain were not only ones that the brain understood but obeyed. In effect, the heart and brain hold an intelligent dialogue. At times the heart submits to the brain and at other times the brain submits to the heart. The ultimate ‘real you’ is a composite of what your heart tells your brain, your brain tells your heart, and what your will decides to believe, say, and do. What is our heart saying to us? And, How can we communicate back to it?
Here are four practical ways in which we can begin to recognize
and learn to listen to our heart.
We need to tell our brain to listen to the heart! The brain is the taskmaster of the body—it never shuts up. It is designed to be on some level alert at all times. Even as a person dreams, the brain attempts to sort out perceptions and emotions and make sense of life so the person can respond diligently. Because the brain is primarily programmed to seek success and not the connection the heart craves, it barely tolerates the emotional language that the heart speaks.
- ¨ Communicating with your heart! We don’t have to go far to find others who learned the healthy art of communicating with their hearts. King David talked regularly to his own heart. In Psalm 42:5 he writes, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him…” David used three steps in communicating with his heart. 1. He admitted that there was a disturbance going on within him. 2. He said out loud that he was going to put his hope in God not in the circumstances that surrounded him. 3. He said out loud that no matter what, he was going to give Him praise for his continual presence despite how things looked on the outside.
Get in the practice of asking your heart:
- What is it that you are really feeling?
- Why are you really feeling this way?
- What good things are you really hoping for?
- What good thing do you want to see done?
Give your heart the benefit of communicating its wisdom to your brain.
- ¨ Can our heart remember? During a conference on the heart a physician described the following story of one of her patients. “I have a patient, an eight-year-old little girl who received the heart of a murdered ten-year-old girl. Her mother brought her to me when she started screaming at night about her dreams of the man who had murdered her donor. She said her daughter knows who it was. After several sessions, I just could not deny the reality of what this child was telling me. Her mother and I finally decided to call the police and, using the descriptions from the little girl, they found the murderer. He was easily convicted with the evidence my patient provided. The time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore, what the little girl he killed had said to him…everything the little heart transplant recipient reported was completely accurate.”
- ¨ How our heart communicates to the body. A seventeenth-century clock maker discovered a fascinating principle that we can apply to this matter of the heart’s beating. Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum clock, and with great pride he manufactured a collection of his clocks to sell. One day as he lay in bed, staring at his clock collection on the other side of the room, he noticed that all the pendulums were swinging in unison, even though he knew with certainty they hadn’t started out that way.
Huygens got out of bed and restarted the pendulums, purposefully setting them at different times to break the synchronized rhythm. To his amazement, in fairly short order, the pendulums began swinging together again. Later, scientists discovered that it was the largest clock with the strongest rhythm that was pulling the other pendulums into sync with itself. They gave this phenomenon the name “entrainment,” which is apparent throughout nature.
The fact is, the strongest biological oscillator in the body is the heart. It acts in a way similar to Huygens’s clocks. The heart has the ability to pull every other bodily system into its own rhythm, whatever that may be. When the heart is at peace or filled with love, it communicates harmony to the entire body. And conversely, when toxic emotions have triggered the heart to beat in an irregular way, to beat harder, or to beat faster, the heart communicates the very opposite of peace to the other organs of the body.
Spiritually speaking, when you experience God’s peace, the heart communicates peace to every fiber of your being. Each and every organ experiences that rest. When love fills your heart, your entire body begins to physically experience health and wholeness.
There are many labels on our food’s these days stating that they are “heart healthy”. We believe in this New Year that our Lord is teaching us what it means to be “spiritually heart healthy”. That living in and practicing His presence in our life brings peace, love, and joy and that this is the best solution to heart health and total wellness.
February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Let’s give ourselves and those around us the gift of a truly healthy heart!