As the center of the cardiovascular system, the heart plays an important role in the life and health of the human body. It is responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to other parts of the body and regulates many areas of our auto immune system.
When assessing our health, the very first vital sign the doctor or health worker seeks is our heartbeat. This 10-ounce muscle can pump around 2,000 gallons of blood through some 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. By comparison, a faucet would need to be turned on all the way for around 45 years to put out enough water to equal the amount of blood pumped by the heart in an average lifetime.
The heart generates its own electrical power and it can continue to beat even when taken out of the body, as long as it is supplied with enough oxygen. The energy the heart creates is enough to drive a truck 20 miles each day; and if you collect that energy within a person’s lifetime you’d have enough to drive to the moon and back.
In the human fetus, the heart starts beating even before the brain has developed. And in more sublime ways, the heart continues to demonstrate its importance. Since the dawn of time it has been considered the seat of emotion, virtue, courage and wisdom.
Ancient cultures believed the heart has a hand in determining our decisions. Poets and romantics have always celebrated the heart as the embodiment of love, romance and passion. Artists have rendered the heart in an infinite number of creative and surprising ways — from fiercely burning to being hard as stone.
In his classic “The Little Prince,” the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery forever elevated it by declaring that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly.”
It’s ironic that science and human understanding are finally beginning to understand and validate what human consciousness has always been certain about: there’s more to the heart than meets the eye.
Beyond merely pumping blood to the rest of the body, scientists have discovered that the heart may actually have a larger, more robust role in directing and aligning many systems in the human body so that they all function harmoniously. A new discipline has emerged called neurocardiology, and it focuses on the nervous system within the heart (also referred to as the “brain” of the heart) and how the heart and the brain communicate with each other through the nervous system.
That the heart and the brain maintain a constant dialogue is significant. It had been previously thought that the brain directed all the other biological mechanisms of the human body. New evidence suggests that the brain is the object of control, rather than the controller.
In 2007 the eminent neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson of Harvard University presented his research on how social and emotional learning changes the brain. This and other discoveries tell us that the heart actually controls the brain, particularly in matters of intuition, creativity, spirituality and other “right-brain” modes of thinking. Continuing research at the Institute of Heart Math (IHM) has discovered that the heart does communicate with the brain through four channels:
1. Neurological communication through the nervous system
2. Biophysical communication through pulse waves
3. Biochemical communication via hormones
4. Energetic communication through magnetic fields
The heart sends instructions to the brain through each of these channels.
The mind then responds to these cues from the heart by transforming its state accordingly; it synchronizes with the heart’s current state. The interaction is nothing less than fascinating.
If the heart, for example, is in a negative emotional state, then it sends corresponding negative cues to the brain. The brain processes these negative messages and directs the rest of the body accordingly. That is why when you suffer from a negative emotion, the rest of your being seems to echo that negativity as well.
Another significant finding by the IHM is that coherence may even occur between two different people, when the magnetic field generated by one person’s heart synchronizes with that of the other. Perhaps this is what people truly mean when they say they feel “good vibes” around certain people, or “bad vibes” when they are around other people.
The importance of these two new discoveries opens up infinite new possibilities in the growth of human consciousness and understanding.
If the heart can indeed influence the mind, then it would be possible to create positive opportunities for the individual simply by encouraging positive thoughts and emotions, and by keeping the heart in a positive or happy state.
This, in fact, is the mission of the IHM, which is dedicated to help people combat stress in order to induce desirable developments in their lives. The second discovery — that heart activity between two or more people can be synchronized — means that happiness (or any emotional state, for that matter) can be communicated and shared with others, causing a contagious wave of shared thoughts and emotions.