Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lesson #13: The Power of the Heart

The heart is perhaps the greatest tool we have for clearing and balancing our energy and maintaining our physical bodies. But the heart is sometimes misunderstood. Let's take a few moments to clarify the function and explore the powerful influence of the heart.

As you know, the heart is a bodily organ, but it's also a major energy center. It is an intuitive feeling center, as well as the metaphorical seat of love and goodness. The heart is also the rhythm-setting apparatus for the other organs and for the entire body and mind. The state of the heart, both physical and energetic, sets the tone for how we feel emotionally and how we handle stress, which in turn has a profound effect on our physical and mental health.

The heart, whether as a physical organ or as a chief energy center, is a powerful muscle, a tremendous source of strength and intelligence for humans and animals alike. At the most basic level, the intuitive intelligence of the heart alerts us to mortal danger, thus tirggering the fight-or-flight response mechanism. The heart signals the brain to "think fast" and take immediate action. On a more subtle level, the intelligence of the heart can guide us in every decision we make.

Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath in California have discovered a relationship between one's emotional state and the heart rhythm patterns observed when a person is hooked up to an electrocardiogram machine. When you are relaxed--when you feel content, secure and happy--your heart rhythm is smooth, and radiates this pattern to the brain and the rest of the organs. They call this state "coherence."

Conversely, when you feel tense, distressed, irritated, etc., your heart rhythm is irregular or jagged, like an earthquake presents on a Richter scale. They call this state "incoherence." If incoherence is experienced repeatedly over time, it becomes a habitual pattern, or groove in the brain. This can result in altered or impaired brain functioning. The stress response becomes a sort of default setting, such that the slightest stressor can trigger an exaggerated fight-of-flight-like response.

To further demonstrate the powerful influence of the heart, consider this: surrounding each of us is an electromagnetic field made up of the collective fields of the brain, the heart, and the other electrical systems throughout the body. Well, it turns out that the heart's electromagnetic field has forty to sixty times more amplitude than that of the brain, and the heart's magnetic field is approximately five thousand times stronger than the field produced by the brain.

When you are in alignment with the heart you have the power to move mountains, while being in alignment with the brain alone packs very little punch. When making an important decision, it can be illuminating or therapeutic to make a list of pros and cons, but in the end: what does your heart say? The intelligence of the heart takes all factors--seen and unseen, known and unknown--into account.

So, how do you enlist the heart to to help you clear away stress and other unwanted thoughts and feelings, and help you make wise decisions and feel good? As it turns out, it's easier than you might think. By just focusing your attention on the heart area and taking a few deep breaths, you can quickly redirect attention from your head, etc., to your heart. I like to place my hand on my heart, as this speeds up the connection, but the mere intention to access the heart puts you in it.

When you first start doing this there may or may not be a struggle from the ego (who wants you to stay in your head), but the more you practice, the easier it gets. So this week, especially if you find yourself getting stressed out or overwhelmed, I invite you to stop, put your hand on your heart, and take a few deep breaths. Just try this and see what happens.

For more information on HeartMath visit: http://www.heartmath.com/