Well it’s February and you will once again be surrounded by hearts and reminders to send your Valentines love messages. But what role does our heart play in your emotions? We all know well the fundamental physiological function of the heart – to pump blood around the body and keep you alive; but does it also have a less physical and more, say spiritual role or do people just use it as a cheesy metaphor when talking about emotions?
If the word spiritual doesn’t sit well with you then perhaps emotional or energetic are a better fit. In fact, energy is really what this article is all about. Now before you go and file this in the ‘esoteric’ junk file, let’s have a look at the science of the electromagnetic energy field of the heart.
The heart is without a doubt your most vital organ; it is the first organ to function when you were but a developing foetus and the last organ to function before you die. If it does not function you cannot survive. The electromagnetic field the heart generates signals life. Measurement of the heart’s electromagnetic field by an electrocardiogram (ECG) has been found to be about 60 times greater than that of the brain, as measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). It is so powerful that it has even been detected and measured from 2.4 – 3.0 meters (8 – 10 feet) away.
The strength of the electromagnetic signal of the heart is fairly straight forward to measure; the impact of this energy is a little less so. There is some research that has shown that the electromagnetic signal of the heart is affected by our emotions, that it becomes stronger and more coherent when we experience positive emotions, such as being in a sincerely loving or caring state of mind. This of course raises some questions like how this energy is affected when you experience negative emotions, fear, anger or depression and is this purely a one way street of emotion affecting the heart, or is there two-way communication with the physiological changes in the heart influencing your emotions?
The heart contains not only cardiac cells, but approximately 40,000 neurons (nerve cells) too, leading researchers to postulate that maybe the heart has a basic form of intelligence, which communicates with the brain and influences your information processing, perceptions, emotions and health. Neurocardiology and psychophysiology researchers believe that the heart is indeed a complex organ, capable of influencing greater physiological coherence and therefore efficient function of the nervous, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems.
“Our research and that of others indicate that the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex, self-organized information processing center with its own functional “brain” that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.” Institute of HeartMath
Interestingly, it is this intrinsic cardiac nervous system (heart brain) that allows the processing of information to be independent from the brain – in effect this is how heart transplants can be sustained. Normally the heart and brain communicate via the vagus nerve (in the brain) and the spinal column, but after a heart transplant these connections take a long time to function again, if at all. It is through the heart brain that the newly transplanted heart can function.
The next factor to investigate is how this heart energy affects your interactions with other people. If this energy extends out beyond our physical body then it stands to reason that our heart energy fields could be bumping into one another all over town. You’ve no doubt experienced firsthand how the heart “flutters” when you see someone you love (or fancy), how it may race when you experience fear and how it beats steady when you are calm; you’ve likely experienced sensing these emotions in other people too. Your heart, as well as keeping you alive profoundly affects your perception, awareness and intelligence. It is not just your ‘gut’ that you rely on for intuition, but your heart as well. You sense how things make you feel, what emotional reaction you have to them – these are matters of the heart. Of course your brain often pipes up to apply logic and reason, but if something doesn’t feel right that will often over-ride any logical rationale the brain provides.
So what does this all mean for your health?
Well, on top of taking your heart health supporting nutrients such as fish oil and Co-Enzyme Q10, you need to pay attention to your emotional health and the energy of those around you – these other less considered factors actually have a powerful influence on your physical health and well-being.
Go on and buy that cheesy Valentine’s Day card, if it comes from a place of sincere loving thought, then it may not only improve your health, but your radiant heart energy field will be felt by those around you too.
• McCraty R, Atkinson M, Tomasino D and Tiller WA ‘The Electricity of Touch: Detection and measurement of cardiac energy exchange between people’
In: Karl H. Pribram, ed. Brain and Values: Is a Biological Science of Values Possible. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1998: 359-379.
• Daemen M ‘The heart and the brain: an intimate and underestimated relation’ Netherlands Heart Journal, 2013 Feb; 21(2): 53-54
• Science of The Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance: An Overview of Research Conducted by the Institute of HeartMath, Available: http://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/introduction.html
• Armour J ‘Potential clinical relevance of the “little brain” on the mammalian heart’ Experimental Physiology, 2008 February, 93(2): 165-176