With Valentine’s Day around the corner, thoughts turn to matters of the heart. Is the heart just a muscle that pumps blood or is there more to it than that?
In poetry and popular culture the the heart is known as a reservoir of not only deep feeling but also wisdom. Phrases such as “follow your heart” or ‘listen to your heart’ encourage us to turn to the heart for guidance.
In The Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf, is racked with concern over the fate of Frodo, he turns to Aragorn, who asks “What does your heart tell you?”
Interestingly, in Chinese medicine, for over 2000 years the heart has been referred to as ‘the Monarch’ in recognition of its supreme position in the hierarchy. The reverence given to the heart is principally because of it’s ability to provide ‘wisdom and insight’.
Is it just a fanciful romantic notion that the heart has anything to do with inner guidance or is it possible to find any evidence of a physiological underpinning to these poetic musings? If anyone is capable of answering this question its the folks at the Heart Math Institute, who like to explore the cutting edge between the heart and science.
One of their startling findings in a 2004 paper titled ‘Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition’ was that the heart is involved in receiving and decoding intuitive information. In an experiment subjects were shown either calm or emotionally stimulating images. Before the image was revealed the heart had already perceived and responded to the image. In other words the heart showed an extraordinary capacity to ‘know’, before the rest of the body’s perceptual apparatus, what was about to occur.
So if you are betwixt and between and can’t make up your mind about important decisions, such as to whom you should send a Valentines Day card, take a moment to stop and listen to your heart, much of the time it’s already knows what to do and is patiently waiting for you to catch up.
Words by Wes Smith
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.