As we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day by showing a friend or love one that we care, I am reflecting about the heart itself, its role in cellular memory and health, and how my own interest in the heart led to a way of teaching and living I call “Heart Living.”
Many of you know I had an incredible experience that changed my life during a trip to Bosnia in 1997. The experience caused me to redirect my life—the work I was doing and the contribution I was making in the world. As a result I created a concept called “Heart Living” which is a way of living that is directed by your heart-consciousness. It is based on the idea that the heart has a unique intelligence unto itself—it is not taken from an idea that living from an emotional stance that people often associated with the heart. Heartliving is about a form of heart intelligence. As I created this way of living and understanding life, creating tools for leading from the heart, I also studied the origin of the heart throughout history. And here are several ideas from that material:
- The heart symbol itself, the icon-shape that we call the heart, can be traced back to a time before the last Ice Age when Cro-Magnon hunters in Europe used the symbol.
- Egyptians historically believed that the heart was the center of morality and life. After a person died, according to legend, the heart was taken to the goddess of justice where it was weighed against the weight of a feather. If the person’s heart was lighter than the feather (Feather of Maat—M A A T), the person rose into the afterlife.
- In Christian theology, the heart has had a major role–the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, seen as emitting light and suffering, was a symbol of love and sacrifice.
- Ancient Romans understood that the heart was the single most vital organ in the body in regard to sustaining life. And Ancient Greeks, in approximately 400 BC, began to associate the heart as the center of the soul and the source of heat within the body.
- Languages in all cultures contain phrases and statements placing the heart as important and essential to our connection to life. When people are sincere about their engagement with something, they’ll often make statements like “their heart is in the right place” or they are “doing it with all their heart.” Another common phrase is “If your heart’s not in it, you’re not either.”
- In Asian culture, it is believed that the body is one’s palace and the heart is the emperor. All the organs are considered lieutenants to the heart. If an organ is problematic or there are symptoms, the entire body’s system is looked at closely. So, for example, the gall bladder is considered the first lieutenant to the heart and if it is acting up, then the question might be “what are you not allowing yourself to feel—or what are you not allowing into your heart?” In other words, more than just a physical issue, there would be attention given to what is also a psychological or spiritual component—what we today refer to as body/mind awareness.
- Scholars and physicians saw the connection between the heart and lungs and became aware of the heart’s pumping action. In 1628, English physician William Harvey detailed how blood travelled throughout the body, propelled by the pumping of the heart. This work became a major breakthrough in how the world thought about the human body.
- Finally, around 1700, historians believed that the “heart” was the single most important word in the human language and referred to the mind and the body.
So where are we today with the heart and research from not only a physical stance but from a body/mind/cellular connection?
Researchers more recently have studied the intelligence and coherence of the heart, believing the heart to have more impact on one’s emotions, mind, and health than ever thought possible. In a nutshell, research has shown that the heart is an Intelligent Cellular System and holds a critical, vital position within the cells and their functions in a person’s body. It’s also suggested that the heart may hold the greater consciousness of a person’s soul, more so than the mind. The term “heart intelligence” was created from this research and expresses the idea that the heart is an intelligent system that has the power to bring both the emotional and the mental systems into balance and harmony. Managing over 75 trillion cells, the heart is considered the primary electromagnetic center of the body. Heart cells are considered to be more tightly organized and the heart’s internal signal stronger than that produced in any other part of the body, including the brain. Even more impressive, the heart is considered an organ of communication that can potentially manage the body’s intuitive processes. The power of a person’s heart harmony, defined as a “logical connectedness, internal order, or harmony,” directly affects the individual’s health.
So your heart affects other people’s hearts and their hearts affect yours. And of course our hearts affect the global consciousness itself. Every heart contributes and is so important.
Here’s to your Heart! Happy Valentine’s Day!