Of Two Minds: Crossing the great divide between head and heart

Of Two Minds: Crossing the great divide between head and heart

Is there a gulf between your head and your heart? Do you live in your head, where you are safe from feeling…well, anything? Or, are you a little bag of feelings reacting to…everything?

Many of the people I see fall into the first category – residing in their heads. After all, this is our culturally accepted place to be. To be successful we have to think things through, to organize, to plan, to see the whole picture. Thinking is a very good, necessary thing. Some people, however, live only in thought land, where it’s safe from uncomfortable things, like feelings. Feelings are the territory of the heart, but did you know that your heart also has a brain?

Your Heart Has a Brain

The new field of neurocardiology shows that the heart is not simply the mechanical pump we’ve been taught it is. The heart has its own nervous system; it’s a little brain that communicates with the larger brain. It also has a stronger electromagnetic field, but that’s another conversation. Just remember your heart has its own intelligence, almost its own personality.

Think of the ways we talk about the heart.  We use words like having a wounded, broken or foolish heart, having heartache or being heartsick, or we speak of having a calm, peaceful or brave heart. How would you describe your heart?

Your Healthy Heart

Do you have a healthy relationship with your heart?  Do you exercise and eat well to keep your heart strong? Do you have a regular stress managing system to take physical pressure off of your heart? If yes, great!  You’re taking care of your physical pump. How about the emotional level?  Do you accept and release feelings as they happen? Do you think of your heart as being intelligent?  Or, do you, or someone you love, avoid feeling-land at all costs?

Most of how we handle feelings comes from what we learned. Do you know someone who was taught that to feel or to show feeling is weakness? Although this one is common for men, women also have received this message, and so they learned to close off to their feelings to gain approval.  If there is a lot of emotional pain, we learn to close off – I’m not gonna let myself be hurt, again. Some become masters of the close off, but then forget how to open up, when the threat is gone. It would be simple if there were no consequences to this and we could all live happily in thought land. Oops…happy, that’s in feeling land.

We don’t get happy, when we can’t feel our hearts. We do get anxiety, though. When something is wrong, the brain receives signals from the heart in the form of neurotransmitters. And, just because we aren’t aware of our specific feelings does not mean we don’t have them.

Feelings 101

We are designed to feel.  Every feeling is a chemical, a neurotransmitter that sends information to the body. When feelings are buried rather that released, those chemicals can cause us harm. Repressed emotion has been linked to a wide variety of illness, including cancer and autoimmune diseases.  By the way, EFT is a remarkable tool to clear the old stuff.

It’s easy to get stuck up in your head.  However, when you find yourself spinning your wheels in thought land

 

Place your hand over your heart.

Feel the rise and fall of your hand as you gently breathe in and out.

Bring all your awareness to the space around you heart.

Feel yourself sinking down into that space.

Now, listen.

The heart speaks in its own way.  Be patient.

Your heart has information about you, a deeper knowing about what emotions might be buried.  Your heart mind knows what you need, and you can learn to communicate with it.  When the head and the heart are in full communication, decisions and actions are clear and balanced. Life takes on a new ease.  Take a leap, and cross that great divide between your head and your heart.

Meg Deak, MCAT, LPC