“New research shows the human heart is much more than an efficient pump that sustains life. [R]esearch suggests the heart also is an access point to a source of wisdom and intelligence that we can call upon to live our lives with more balance, greater creativity and enhanced intuitive capacities. All of these are important for increasing personal effectiveness, improving health and relationships and achieving greater fulfilment.”
- from 'Science of the Heart' published by the HeartMath Institute (HMI).
If our hearts are such an incredible source, how can we access the wisdom and intelligence within them on a day-to-day basis? How do we learn to recognise and trust the guidance we receive? I believe 'heart-centred living' (HCL) is the solution to this. HCL is a way of bringing your physical, mental, and emotional systems into balanced alignment with your heart’s intuitive guidance. Before we dive into this in more detail, I’d like invite you to consider a few questions.
What proportion of your choices are decision-based i.e. coming from your knowledge, understanding, or critical thinking?
How many of your choices are coming from your intiuition or 'knowing'?
Do you think thoughts, decisions or actions that come from the head will be the same as choices made from your heart? In your experience, how often do these align?
In a recent Women's Circle session we discussed 'Heart-centred living' and - as often tends to happen - I've been conscious of it's potential impact since then. Consequently, it's something I wanted to share with those who weren't able to come to our monthly gathering. If you are interested in what I term 'intentional' living I hope this concept, and the exercises in this post, might be helpful.
In the report cited earlier, HMI researchers observed that the heart "acted as though it had a mind of its own and could significantly influence the way we perceive and respond in our daily interactions." In fact, it appeared "the heart could affect our awareness, perceptions and intelligence" and showed heart-coherence to be an optimal psychological state with "increased cognitive function, self-regulatory capacity and resilience."
With this is mind, I believe HCL begins with the day-to-day choices we make. When we are able to access choices that include this 'coherence' - in other words, when we bring our innate wisdom and intelligence into play - it enables us to consciously create a very different life to the one that we might otherwise build using only a logical or analytical perspective. It can impact our relationships, wellbeing, career, and every other aspect of life. So why aren't we already accessing this wisdom by default? What is standing in our way?
Most of us are taught from a young age to indiscriminately apply learning, critical thinking, and logic to decision-making, and while this might be the best approach when solving equations or deciding on the best materials for a project, it is not the appropriate one in all circumstances - for example when your child's emotions need to be acknowledged, or you are feeling upset or judgmental.
Our days are made up of thousands of choices - both large and small - and I believe most are treated as 'decisions' which are solved entirely in the head. This is an important distinction. On Dictionary.com, a decision is defined as the act of or need for making up one's mind. A decision is a mental process, including analysis and a way of picking or eliminating options. However, a choice is defined as the right, power, or opportunity to choose. There's no mention of action or process, only the approach taken. If we have the 'power' to choose, there is an implication that it is up to us how we make that choice and that our values, perceptions or beliefs might all play a part. It is my belief that most of us do not even consider that there may be an empowered choice available to us - or that such choices can be made in a way that is 'emotionally coherent' or from our heart-space.
It's not only our choices that are impacted by our heart. It also affects also our brain-function, bodies, and other life experiences. Here's another quote from HMI:
"The heart is, in fact, a highly complex information-processing centre with its own functional brain commonly called the heart brain, that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences affect brain function and most of the body's major organs and play an important role in mental and emotional experience and the quality of our lives."
How might your life and experiences differ if you were able to make heart-centred choices and true heart-connections with friends, family and co-workers? What wisdom or intelligence might already be in your heart, just waiting for you to access it?