Most of us have probably considered references to the heart as poetic symbolism or anecdotal metaphor rather than the organ that circulates blood throughout the body. Even the biblical uses of the heart such as “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” or “Trust the Lord with all your heart” and “Do not harden your hearts in rebellion as in the wilderness” mean “heart” as the spiritual equivalent of the intention of the mind. The heart is much more than a symbol or metaphor.
The heart has an electromagnetic field 60x higher than the cerebral brain and can reach about 4 feet beyond the body. The heart is a source of wisdom and intelligence that gives us balance, creativity, and intuition. Historically, the heart has been claimed the seat of emotions, courage, compassion, perceptions, insight, strength, health, and love as well as “heart-ache” and disappointment. It is directly connected to our autonomic nervous system (ANS) and immune and hormonal systems. We know that stress and our way of thinking can impact the health of the heart. We have learned that our external environment can affect the way we think and act both physically and emotionally.
A fascinating resource of our heart activity is the free online book Science of the Heart, an ongoing publication by HeartMath Institute (HMI), founded in 1991 by Doc Childre, with the vision of learning about the heart, aimed at caring for people through finding solutions to heart challenges by connecting them to their heart. Their research is continuously updating its discoveries; an endless list of articles can be found in this free downloadable book. It is not a “d-i-y” heart medicinal guide to replace your heart doctor; it is fascinating information about the physiology of the heart.
The heart plays a critical role in our mental functions, happiness, and energy as well as our life balance and resilience, basically our self-regulation. This is based on the electromagnetic field of the heart that is 60-time more powerful in amplitude than the electromagnetic force of the brain. There are four different ways the head and heart connect:
- Neurological communication (nervous system) – This is the direct connection between the heart and the nervous system via the vagus nerve with the brain. The neurology here is the cardiology of the heart or neuro-cardiology imbedded in the Intrinsic Cardiac Ganglion that plays the controlling role of all the heart functions, working with the brain through the ANS. (Chapter one of the book)
- Biochemical communication (hormones) – The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, when a new hormone produced and secreted atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), and atrial peptide, nicknamed the balance hormone that plays the role in fluid and electrolyte balance and helps regulate the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and many regulatory centers in the brain. It was later discovered the heart contains cells that synthesize and release catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine) as well as oxytocin, the social binding hormone. (also from Chapter One)
- Biophysical communication (pulse wave) – The biophysical communication runs over chapters 2 – 5 and covers details about heart rate, heart rate variability, emotional responses, self-regulation that cover the regulatory domains of resilience – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – including coherence and integrity, which encompass the stability and harmony of the body’s regulatory systems during any period of time. (Chapters 2 – 5)
- Energetic communication (electromagnetic fields) – The heart’s magnetic field, which is the strongest rhythmic field produced by the human body, not only envelops every cell of the body but also extends out in all directions into the space around us. The heart’s magnetic field can be measured several feet away from the body by sensitive magnetometers and is an important carrier of information. These same rhythmic patterns also can transmit emotional information via the electromagnetic field into the environment, which can be detected by others and processed as internally generated signals. (Chapter Six)
This brief summary overview of our incredible heart touches only the partial activities of our marvelous, like-sustaining organ that is so much more than a physical pump for our coronary blood system. It is important to recall that the vital heart brain is likewise the “middle brain” between the cerebral brain in the skull and the gut-brain of the microbiome. These three brains work together to enhance our life, not only to keep us alive but also to help us enjoy our precious life. This is who we are, connected both within ourselves and with the rest of the universe that pulses with the vibrations of rhythmic electromagnetic fields. This has eminent importance for our communications with one another. We are in sync with others through empathy, compassion, and oxytocin.
Take away: Stay connected within by “using your head, listening to your heart, and trusting your gut” and stay connected to the world around to enjoy the surprises of nature; this is most fun when done with a friend/spouse/close significant other.