The Brain In Your Heart

Thoreau said:

Science is proving more and more that our experience of the world is first perceived by our heart, which thinks about it, responds accordingly, and sends information to the brain for further processing.

Around 65% of the cells in the heart are neural cells, clustered in ganglia and connected to the neural network of the body through axon-dendrites just like in the brain. The heart is a specialized brain hooked into the central nervous system making and releasing its own neurotransmitters and with its own memory. The neurons in the heart store memories. That’s why people who heart transplants experience new preferences and changes in behaviors and feelings.

In Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature, he explains that the neural cells in the heart have a direct connection to the brain and are constantly chattering back and forth with the brain and the two, together, decide how to respond to incoming information. Neurons in the brain alter their behavior according to the signals embedded in each heartbeat and send information to the central nervous system to make physiological and behavioral changes almost instantly.

The heart’s ability to perceive meaning from the world is called aisthesis which literally means “to breath in.”  Aisthesis is that moment when the life force of one living organism communicates with and moves into another one. We live in a world that’s alive with awareness and intelligence, and it’s up to us to acknowledge and allow this intimate exchange.  This communication is not unlike when the Navi in the movie Avatar plugged their tails into something to connect with it.

Even though we are trained out of using our heart as organs of perception early on, the skill still exists and can be developed. Think of what it feels like to see the Grand Canyon or any postcard-worthy scene. There’s a real, palpable reaction in the body as the energy, the power of the setting is experienced and absorbed.

The brain is an organic computer processing data and acting as a clearing station for central nervous system functioning. Unlike the heart, the brain is linear and to use it as the primary organ of perception reduces life analytically to a mechanical process with little meaning.

Because of a brain injury I sustained from a pill-popping suicide attempt, I was forced to rely heavily on the perception and intelligence of my heart and learned to trust and listen to it. You know what? I found that it’s much wiser than my brain ever was. Using heart intelligence and perception, I feel connected, know what is right for me at each turn, and have faith in my intuitive wisdom. I used to feel hopelessly disconnected, lost, and was always looking externally to others to give me answers.

Great power and wisdom exists in the world all around us. Our challenge is to notice, develop, and invite it to play a bigger role in our lives. To begin to use the heart as an organ of perception, intelligence, and communication allows us as a species to become, once again, a respectful, integral part of the web of life on planet Earth and allows us  to begin to live more fulfilled and authentic lives as individuals.

The problem is our heart intelligence is in kindergarten while our mind intelligence has already graduated from college. We have to get the two more in sync.

image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40033576@N03/

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14 Comments

  1. Debbie,

    What a wonderful post. brokenbrilliant wrote about the heart/ spine/ mind connection very recently and I've been thinking about it ever since. Did you read 'My Stroke of Insight'? The writer, a brain surgeon who had a stroke, writes about how her intuitive side took over when her rational side was incapacitated by her stroke. I've experienced something similar, though on a much more minor note, and I've found as I have (by necessity) redeveloped my analytical, rational side, the intuitive has diminished.

    In our hyper rational world, it's hard to find the stillness necessary to let the heart feel fully, particularly, as in my case, injury has lessened the barriers to distraction. But the heart/ mind balance is something to work towards . . .

    Tim

  2. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Tim, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I did read "My Stroke of Insight" early on after my brain injury, and it was so inspirational and gave me so much hope and motivation. I think it can do so for anyone with any condition, not just a brain injury.

    As a society, our rational, analytical thinking and intelligence has been so reinforced and rewarded. Our heart intelligence is like a super power we all have and have completely forgotten. Developing it and trusting it will help us find peace and survival as a race and meaning as individuals.

    We HAVE to find the stillness to encourage this. It is magical. Keep working towards it in your own life.

  3. Lori (JaneBeNimble) Reply

    Hi Debbie,
    When I read your writing, it absolutely stirs my heart. It exudes love. It is full of wisdom and a true sense of being on this Earth, of being fully tuned to it's rhythm.

    I enjoyed reading what Tim said and your response to him. And, I agree that finding the stillness and wisdom beyond rational thought is magical. Well said!

    Thanks for another wonderful post, Debbie. Keep up the great work! I'll be reading.
    🙂

  4. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Lori, howdy! Thank you for your oh so kind words, and I feel the same way about your writing. There is nothing like wisdom and compassion learned "in the trenches."

    The challenges in our lives have also been blessings as they truly have given us many gifts as well. One of my favorite sayings is "If you like where you are, then you can't complain about how you got there."

    It is a fascinating journey, and we all have so much at our disposal we don't even use. I feel like I have discovered super powers that everyone has and that I had all along. It is about taking a giant leap and always trusting your cape.

  5. Tony Piparo Reply

    In my time in the desert, Jesus taught me that to develop our Sacred mind that the ego must become a servant of the heart instead a slave of the mind. I guess he already knew the science of the heart. Great article. Thanks,

  6. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Yes, there is a natural, innate, comforting even feeling to move to the heart yet our society teaches us to do and values anything BUT that. Good for you for heeding this message and following that path early on and helping others to do it in your work. Keep on!

  7. Tony Piparo Reply

    Debbie, I would prefer that you called me a thin zero instead of a big fat zero. That I could handle. But to be a number above zero would be even more astounding. I would love to called a big fat 10 or 9 even. Thanks for the wonderful information. Keep up the tremendous work.

  8. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Tony, I don't think you meant to post here, but good to hear from you. You are a big fat 10 in my book!

  9. I love your blog and FB work…guess I should check Pinterest and see if you are there too…and I want to offer a suggestion. My WP blogs get better Alexa ranks when I use a plug-in called All in One SEO. Your work deserves to rank higher than I am seeing in Alexa, and this could help. Mike Logan

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thank you, Mike. I will look into it. At this point, I am happily unconcerned about statistics or SEO’s. I write just because I feel compelled to . I am, however, working on a book, and I know better rankings increase the chance of publishing. So, thank you.

  10. Since his recent transplant, I’ve been curious if Dick Cheney had a “change of heart”.

  11. Pingback: The Best Belly Possible? | The Best Brain Possible

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