Except for a brief stint in my early twenties working in for-profit corporate America, for most of my life I have been drawn to so-called “heart work.” I involved myself with non-profits providing important and meaningful service in the local community. When I lived on the San Francisco peninsula, I volunteered at Kara, a grief counseling agency on and off for more than 20 years, collaborating with friends to create their Children’s Grief Program. I’ve also been involved here, here and here, non-profits all, doing needed service work in the world. My draw to this work isn’t all that altruistic. It’s more the result of how it makes me feel when I do it: it seems to trigger an oxytocin release in my brain and body. Oxytocin is the peptide most responsible for reducing fear and increasing trust – good experiences to have in our daily workplace. They helped me to answer The Big Brain Question, “Yes.”
While few neuroscientists would point to the heart as the organ most central to defining what it means to be and work as a human, there are growing numbers of researchers who are discovering qualities about the heart heretofore unknown. For instance, Rollin McCraty at the Institute of Heartmath indicates that the heart’s electromagnetic field can be measured at a distance of 12 feet away from the body. (Is this a limitation of our hearts or of our measuring instruments? With more refined instruments – like a massively integrated human heart-brain(?) – might we be able to sense a specific heart’s electromagnetic signature on the other side of the planet?).
The Evolution of the Heart
Joseph Chilton Pearce, in his book, The Biology of Transcendence makes the claim that in spite of wars and recurring economic and political turmoil, human beings are still in the process of evolving. While certainly open to scientific debate, where that evolution is taking us, Pearce claims, is in the direction of hooking up more and more neurons from the brain to the heart. He identifies the heart as our “Fifth Brain,” one we potentially begin making early connections to in childhood. To the extent those early connections are supported and encouraged and given repeated opportunities for growth and development, Pearce argues, they will tend to strengthen and increase, much as the neural networks in any part of the head brain tend to do.
Reasons of Its Own
Ever the scientist, and fascinated with this line of inquiry, after being diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma, Dr. Paul Pearsall made the most of serendipity. When he found himself recovering from radiation treatments on a hospital ward together with a number of heart transplant patients he was curious to know what it was like to have someone else’s heart beating in their chest. So he began to interview these transplant patients. It turns out that the hearts these people received apparently came with pieces of the donor’s personal history, pieces these recipients could actually remember. For a compelling account of these folk’s experience, check out this short video: Transplanting Memories.
Deeply intrigued by what he discovered, Pearsall extensively researched and wrote The Heart’s Code. In it he provided a “cardio-energetic portrait of the heart”:
The heart is our most powerful organ. There is no subtleness about the immense physical power of the heart. The brain’s power pales by comparison.
The heart responds directly to the environment. The heart reacts neuro-hormonally to the outside world not only in response to the brain, but sometimes without the brain’s awareness.
The heart is a dynamic system. It expresses itself as energy, matter and information.
The heart is the conductor of the energy of the body’s cells. The subtle energies of the heart produce “info-energetic cellular memories.”
The heart is the body’s primary organizing force. It is the creator of the gestalt we call “me,” and the catalyst for the mind that results in our experience of “us.”
The heart resonates with information-containing energy. Energy, matter and information are one and the same. Whenever any one of these characteristics are present, the other two are also there in some form.
The heart is the body system’s core. The heart’s energy transmission becomes highly influential for our body and for all the bodies around us.
The heart “speaks” and sends information. We can learn to access this information by quieting our brain.
All hearts exchange information with other hearts and brains. When one heart sends energy to another, that energy becomes part of the receiving heart’s memory.
Transplanted hearts come with their own info-energetic cellular memories.
Holding Our Children Heart to Heart
I’m firmly convinced that we must model and teach our children how to access the intelligence of the heart in order to bring balance to the extensively employed and often misused “sharp edge of intellect;” intelligence is different than wisdom. Scientific evidence is accumulating that suggests doing so will help our children make better decisions and manage life risk more effectively. And when they grow up to be soldiers, politicians and work on Wall Street, isn’t such work something we want our kids to be able to fully bring the heart’s wisdom to?