Your Heart Is Not Merely A Pump
‘My heart’s not in it anymore’; ‘my heart is sore’; ‘my heart is breaking’. We have all uttered these phrases. They are not simply figures of speech, but very often unconsciously uttered, based on our intuitive understanding of the heart as seat of the emotions and soul. In all cultures and religions, the experience of peace, love, healing and harmony are seated in the heart and thymus (responsible for immunity) region in the chest. Feelings of love also have a positive influence on the immune system, hormones and cognitive brain function.
In his book,
‘Love & Survival, Dr Dean Ornish says that the most important contributing factor to heart health, is the love and intimacy found in close relationships. Research has shown that people in Japan and France (both countries with low heart disease risk) have very close family and friendship links, signifying the perception they have of having a support system in times of trouble. Lack of love and intimacy has been shown to be the most consistent predictor of heart disease. This is a more consistent factor than genetics and risk factors such as obesity, too little exercise, high LDL-cholesterol, poor nutrition and smoking.
Even some of the risk factors can be attributable to lack of social interaction and feeling isolated and alone. People smoke, drink, or overeat as an ineffective, harmful way of stilling the mind from the stressful monkey-chatter, mistakenly trying to prevent suppressed emotions from surfacing, or even to form an unconscious layer of protection.
All these are stressors or triggers for the stress reaction where the heart and cardiovascular system are constantly put on red alert to react in the classical stress response: fight or flight (when faced with danger, real or imagined) or protect and conserve (against cold and hunger, real or imagined).
Understanding blocked emotions, does NOT imply that you CAUSE your disease on purpose. The process occurs on a deeply unconscious level in cell memories. You can however, become consciously aware of these issues and through process work and deep healing, help your inner self to heal, leading to personal power and inner peace.
B) Heart research
As reported in the British Medical Journal, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in modern society. Employees with high job strain, a combination of high demands at work and low job control, have high stress levels and more than twice the risk of death from heart disease compared with employees who have low job strain. The stress levels and risk for employees with effort-reward imbalance (low salary, lack of social approval, and few career opportunities relative to efforts required at work) were 2.5 times higher. High job strain also showed increased total cholesterol at the five year follow up, while effort-reward imbalance showed an increase in body weight. Being underwhelmed is just as bad for your health and happiness, as being overwhelmed.
More and more research studies show the link between the heart, the emotions, stress and the fact that the heart also functions as brain:
The heart has receptor sites for, and manufacture of, peptides that are identical to the neurotransmitter message carrier molecules inside the brain. It is now crystal clear that the heart is a very important endocrine gland, making and releasing the major hormone, ANF (atrial natriuretic factor). ANF has a profound effect on the brain’s limbic structure and function. The limbic system is the seat of the emotions and stress survival reaction, and is also called the emotional brain. The limbic system includes the hippocampus where the memory, learning and control centers for the entire hormonal system reside.
60-65% of heart cells are neurons (nervous system cells), and not cardiac muscle cells as previously believed. These neurons are identical to brain neurons. 50% of the heart neuron cells translate information from the whole body to keep it functioning as a harmonious whole. The other 50% have a direct, unmediated neural connection with the emotional brain inside the head, with a 24/7 heart-brain-heart dialogue we are completely unconscious of.
The heart is a powerful electromagnetic generator that creates an electromagnetic field that encompasses the body and extends 3-5 meters away from it. One can actually take an ECG (electro cardiogram) reading 1 meter away from the body, with no wires attached. This electromagnetic field has a profound effect on the brain, furnishing radio wave pattern from which the brain draws material to create an internal experience of the world. Ultimately everything in our lives depends on our emotional (i.e. feeling) response to events.
Stress accelerates your heart rate through secretion of the adrenal stress hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and the long term stress hormone cortisol. Stress is initially experienced as emotions or feelings within the limbic system of the brain. ANF influences not only the heart muscle contraction, pressure in blood vessels and kidneys, but also the mood-influencing adrenal glands, as well as the brain. In the brain, parasympathetic or sympathetic impulses coming from the heart help trigger the onset of either calming or excitatory thoughts and emotions.
Research also shows that by focusing on, or visualizing, feelings of love, peace and gratitude, breathing and heart rate slow down, and become synchronized and harmonious. Regular meditation practice has a similar effect. In emotionally healthy people, there appears to be a strong tendency for the heart and brain to have a smoothly functioning dialogue, and to remain synchronized, or entrained. Entrainment reflects a positive frame of mind, but also helps create it, in part by enhancing the balance of the autonomic nervous system (parasympathetic / relaxing, and sympathetic / excitatory system). The body, clearly, can help heal the mind. But what gets this healing process started? The mind itself. Your mind, when focused on appreciation, positive self talk, love and peace, has a limitless power to trigger physical and emotional healing.
According to Candace Pert in her new book Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d, neural nests that form pathways after repeated firing in specific patterns (compare this to wild animals treading the same pathway to the water every single day), form memory, not only in the brain, but also in the heart, spinal cord, immune system – actually all systems linked by autonomic ganglia and part of the psychosomatic network.
This network comprises the firing between neurons in the nervous system (only 2% of the information system), the link of ligands (peptides, hormones, neurotransmitters) to their receptors (98% of the information system), and the matrix, or intricate spider web of collagen fibers that link throughout the body/mind, and extending into every single cell.
According to James Oschman in his book Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, the living matrix can be compared to a liquid crystal and it is a physical entity explaining how energy healing works, and also instantaneous, or miraculous healing. Through instant transmission along the matrix, new molecules of emotion can bind to receptors, with an immediate healing effect. On the surface, this is the benefit of repeating positive affirmations and on a deeper, spiritual level, the epiphany or transcendent moment the mystics talk about, of finally being able to let go and release old, buried emotions of past core emotional trauma, from the cells of your body, especially the heart, and creating new pathways of health and well-being, new ‘elsewheres of thought’ as Ramhta (JC Knight) said in the movie What the Bleep do we Know?.
C) Heart facts
- Research shows that the heart does have an effect on our health and happiness:
- If, for instance, you focus on, or visualize feelings of love, peace and gratitude, your breathing and heart rate slow down, and become synchronized and harmonious.
- Meditation has a similar effect.
- Feelings of love also have a positive influence on the immune system, hormones and cognitive brain function
Heart rate variability (HRV) is the natural rise and fall of your heart rate in response to the current state of your system (body-mind-emotions) or internal milieu. HRV is directly influenced by your breathing, blood pressure, hormones, emotions and thoughts. In a healthy heart, the rate increases as you inhale and decreases as you exhale. This is called Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia or RSA in medical terminology. HRV is a reliable monitor or risk assessment for the general state of well-being. A low HRV and a high and chaotic or incoherent HRV, indicates an unbalanced or unstable autonomic nervous system (ANS). If it is a chronic state, it may be considered as an early health warning or risk, to call attention to the need to address the underlying cause as soon as possible, or it may already reflect an existing serious health condition. A healthy state is associated with a high and regular, or coherent HRV. The heart rate fluctuates all the time, and the way it changes reflects the state of stress or relaxation of the body in real time, the state of the internal world of our emotions, as well as the external world of the earth’s resonance (Schuman resonance) and electromagnetic field. Are we at peace, or are we hostile, angry and bitter? Slowing down your breathing, synchronizing your breathing with your heart rate, is a very effective way to learn to go into a deep relaxation state and return to a state of inner peace and equilibrium at will.