by Johanna Bassols: For far too long, but particularly in the modern Western world…
we have thought of the heart as simply a pumping mechanism responsible for bringing blood to our organs.
The heart’s physical importance is not to be underestimated, it supports life, sending the blood of life to the tree-like limbs of our vascular system–but this is an overly simplistic view of what the heart is capable of.
Gregg Braden’s latest research elaborates on the ancient technique of using the heart as an intelligent organ.
The heart’s intelligence has been ignored for far too long. What we’ve learned about the heart’s wisdom, however, in the past several years through the Heart Math Institute and through the research of psychologists, neurobiologists, and resurfaced wisdom teachings from our ancient past, should inspire everyone to look at the heart in a completely new way.
For those who are not used to using their innate intelligence–that is their intuition—tuning into the heart for answers to the most profound and difficult questions they could possibly drum up might seem ridiculous. Why ask the heart whether to stay in a relationship that is challenging, or even if you should go through with a medical procedure?
It might seem ignorant or even haphazard to ask the heart questions like these, but it has wisdom that the intellect cannot match. Here’s why:
The heart does not send information through an egoic filter.
The heart knows your past, your present, and your future. Its intelligence does not care about your egoic constructs. The heart simply speaks from a completely neutral place.
You can think of it like a close friend who has your best interest at heart, and who does not care about making themselves look good in your eyes.
There is an ancient term that does not have a direct English translation that describes this intelligence of the heart. Hridaya, is the energy which is contained within the heart chakra. This is not just the physical heart, but the spiritual heart. It contains the intelligence of God or the transcendental mind.
The word comes from the Sanskrit language, and the closest meaning to English would be something like this:
Hrid = center
Ayam = this
Thus, the spiritual heart always brings you to your center. It will not veer away from your highest self, always taking in a 360-degree (and beyond) view of any situation you could possibly face.
The yogi Bhagavan wrote once to explain this spiritual heart in more detail:
Just as there is a cosmic center from which the whole universe arises and has its being and functions with the power or the directing energy emanating therefrom, so also is there a center within the frame of the physical body wherein we have our being. This center in the human body is in no way different from the cosmic center. It is this center in us that is called the Hridaya, the seat of Pure Consciousness, realized as Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. This is really what we call the seat of God in us.
Conversely, the mind-brain thinks of our past experiences, our past erroneous beliefs assigned to those experiences, and takes all sorts of twists and turns through a conceptual landscape that we’ve created to give us a ‘right’ answer to life’s deep questions.
A Zen Buddhist can also describe what happens when we think with the head (brain) instead of the heart.
We place a fog–a type of perceptual overlay on top of a situation and then add an emotional investment. We call this ‘real,’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yet, we think we have to obtain a siddhi (great accomplishment or miracle) in order to obtain supernormal wisdom or intelligence. So, we go on trusting the false perceptions of the mind-brain.
The Neurobiology of the Heart
Moreover, if we were to look at the simple neurobiology of the heart–there are many more fibers leading from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. This means–as Gregg Braden recently pointed out in a Gaia talk–that there is much more communication being sent to the brain then being received from it.
As the HeartMath Institute explains, the heart also begins beating in the unborn fetus before the brain has even been formed, a process scientists call autorhythmic.
We humans also form an emotional brain long before a rational one, and the heart has its own independent complex nervous system known as ‘the brain in the heart.’
The heart can also create a level of coherence in the body just through its rhythm, which regulates all its systems, and corrects even diseased cells.
And finally, the electromagnetic field of the heart is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain, and permeates every cell in the body. The magnetic component is approximately 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body with sensitive magnetometers.
Thinking with the Heart’s Wisdom
Braden suggests these tips to help you tap into your heart’s massive wisdom:
- Focus on the heart (and heart chakra). This sends a signal to the heart that you seek its intelligence.
- Slow your breathing. This sends another signal to your body that you seek higher intelligence, and not that of the normally stressed, and freaked out ego. Deep breathing calms the nervous system and quiets the brain.
- Conjure a sense of gratitude, compassion, or love. These are the feelings which trigger an activation of the heart’s energy.
- Ask your heart a question. The question should be brief and to the point.
- Everyone will experience the heart’s intelligence a bit differently. You may feel butterflies in your gut, a warm sensation growing around your body, or tingling in your fingertips. You may not feel any bodily sensations but have a clear, short answer that comes through your mind. Know that it likely won’t need a long-drawn-out story to ‘justify’ its wisdom. The heart speaks directly and clearly. If it isn’t, try this process again to let your body know that you seek the intelligence of the heart and not the ego.
- Practice makes perfect. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to tap into the seat of pure consciousness–the hridaya.