Where the Heart Goes, Life Flows
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
The brain is brimming with intelligence yet life is confusing. The heart sparked into existence before it all, yet we don't know how to listen. What happens when the heart-mind and the brain-mind converge?
Are We Aligned with What We Seek?
There are many areas within one’s life that seem to constantly be at odds with each other. We want ease, comfort and joy, yet frequently feel difficulty, discomfort and anguish.
Take any relationship we have - whether it be romantic or platonic - there is at least one that isn’t completely free of friction.
And what about the moment-by-moment tussle with ourselves? The streaming voice-over of the mind in the background? Well most of the time we don’t like what we hear.
So then how is it that despite a lack of harmony or flow with oneself or with another that we will still continue to take part in that very thing causing the strife? How is it that we somehow sustain and give life to those conditions that keep leading us back to sorrow or friction through our participation?
Therefore there’s no wonder that we can’t seem to find a groove... a flow... and most of all, bask in the contentment and joy that we so desperately crave. If we’re not following the signs then it is because we are using the wrong instrument of navigation: the mind.
The default mode of the mind is to try to understand why anything is so. Discontent to simply accept why it is so, the mind will instead be tricky and question ‘why should I accept why it is so?’.
We suffer because of our over-thinking, our meta-cognition.
Which of our magnificent organs is behind the wheel? Well the brain of course.
Attuning the Mind to a Different Organ
The Brain will think that ‘changing’ is synonymous with ‘ending’. Where-as the Heart will feel ‘change’ as the ‘beginning’.
Let’s envisage that each every encounter with these inner and outer relationships appears to us a kind of sign-post. Each encounter represents a clear message that is directing you and telling you where you need to go or what you need to do. Each person, each thought, each event is a signal for you to read.
If a relationship is jarring to the mind it will interpret that it is a challenge to be met, eschewing the message. The mind, it thinks, will ultimately ‘rule over’ that, yet what happens consequentially is that this notion perpetuates the situation and serves to cause more decay in an already fragile relationship.
The Heart, or the Heart-Mind, will interpret the sign posts as something that is not presenting itself as a challenge nor as a force against us that we must rise to, but rather it is a force that is compliant with us, that we must flow with.
Heart Brain Imbalance
The heart, like the brain, has its own independent complex nervous system sometimes referred to as “the brain in the heart”. Unlike the mind in the brain, the mind of the heart is not complicated despite being complex. It will not ‘try to understand’ it just understands.
The mind with which we normally use, operates through analysis, deconstruction and codifying. In terms of evolution it’s necessary... but for a regulated mental, emotional and physical coherence - it’s often our pitfall. Again, our mind ‘over-thinks’ and it results in us overlooking the clear signs given to us in life time and time again. It’s why we justify bad relationships, negative behaviour or bypass the consequences of our actions.
The Katha Upanishad, dated from the 4th or 5th century BC, refers to 101 Nadis (energetic conduits/channels) which originate from the heart and spread throughout the body in all directions. The channel that ascends from the heart to the head is specifically pointed out as the passage by which one can reach immortality or in other words, escape suffering (different traditions call it Nirvana or Moksha).
What the text is referring to is the heart’s ability to ‘shed light’ on things. The heart allows us not to feel limited, even choice-less but rather to feel expansive and open.
We anticipate that there are a whole series of possibilities. The heart opens up the narrow gaze of the brain. This is not merely wishful or even metaphorical thinking but reiterated when we delve a little bit deeper into this vital organ of information and wealth.
Language of the Heart
Our heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in our body, producing an electrical field that measures
about 60 times greater in amplitude than the activity produced by the brain. It sends us emotional and intuitive signals to assist in guiding our lives.
In-fact as an unborn fetus it is our heart that developed first, before the brain. The heart being auto-rhythmic literally sparks itself into life. So then, if we had an emotional brain long before a rational one, how is it we don't know how to listen to it? Why are we not guided by it as default rather than the mind of the brain?
Refining our awareness and tuning in to the Heart-mind is not as abstract or difficult as you may think.
The Breath and the Flow State
One very simple way is through coherent breathing.
When we breathe in a slower, calmer manner and focus on reducing our breathing rate from anywhere between 17 - 20 breaths per minute to 5 - 7 breaths per minute, the heart rate slows down, so too do brain waves producing meditative frequencies which for the sake of description here we can generally state will leave you feeling less determined in your attention and more open receptive.
Importantly blood flood to the brain increases (remember the main Nadi stated above?) and the Autonomic Nervous System along with its functions, including circulation, fall into a state of resonance meaning that all is working with efficiency and easy.
This is physiological part, but consciously how do we interpret these heart signals? Well as we allow the intelligence of the heart to be sensed into, the encounters, the frictions and the so-called challenges of life are approached differently.
We don’t think-that-we-know-what-we-should-maybe-possibly-do. We just know, despite the brain's computability - and we accordingly proceed or change course. We feel assured and certain above all else. This great intelligence is working through us. That’s why the Katha Upanishad speaks of immortality. It is only through the attentive heart that we are boundless and free to choose.
Threads Within, Threads Without
Pragmatically none of this is suggesting to negate the brain or mind - we need it - especially if we make a choice based on the heart’s request in order to figure some logistical stuff out!
Rather it means we allow the language of the heart to restore harmony in a world where we tend to over emphasise and overly give credence to the language of the mind: thinking. Like learning anything new, it takes time, but it is there. Rest assured it was there even before your thinking mind remember?
And the rest assured, the relationships that before were unharmonious or jarring, both within you and without you, merely fall away. Dissipate. No longer are they present in our lives. This, we don't need to 'try and understand', this is what we simply begin to 'understand' as we watch it all begin to unfold and flow.