Where do we think? Or more importantly, how are we taught to think? In modern life, it is all about our brain. We rationalise everything. We analyse everything. We allow our brain to control almost every facet of our lives, from our waking to sleeping. It tells us we need to have this and that, it tells us not to make a show of ourselves, it worries about what others will think of our behaviour. We live life seemingly unaware of the importance of our heart connection, to each other, to situations, to the universe.
Which is interesting, because while thinking is natural, allowing our brain to control our pathways in life is akin to putting a computer in charge of a ship. The safest place for a ship is either deep water in the middle of an ocean or tied up in port. And there it will stay, safe and out of harms way. Throw in a human captain and suddenly the ship is sailing for strange lands because there are places to see, people to meet and things to do. And therein lies the crux between our heart and our brain. The brain wants to keep us safe, the heart wants the most fundamental of human emotions – love – and that involves risk.
Thinking with our brain is like that. Our brain is designed to keep us alive. To keep us safe. When we think of something outside our comfort zone, our brain does what it does best – it begins to throw up all kinds of negative thoughts to remind us of how everything could end in disaster. And so we begin to doubt our first instincts. We literally talk ourselves out of what we feel, sense and know because we allow a computer to sail for the safety of deep water.
Many ancient traditions hold that our thinking actually takes place in the heart-gut center. But we have lost our ability to tune into this wisdom that is intuitive in all of us. We have talked ourselves out of listening to it because while the brain is designed to keep us safe, our heart is designed to lead us to travel paths that are unknown.
Our heart is the outer manifestation of our soul and our soul is the individual part of a greater universal soul energy that is at all times connected. We have convinced ourselves that we are separate, that we are distinct entities from the All, the Universe, God, the Creator – what ever name you put on it! Like water from a river flowing into a lake, it is impossible to point at the lake and say that piece of water belongs to the river and that piece was once the lake – it merges until it is all one. And so it is with our souls, they are ever present in the greater consciousness and should we stop to listen to our heart center, things would begin to make sense.
Thinking with the heart may seem unusual because we are taught from a very early age to process everything with our brain. We treat the brain as us and we have a ‘soul’. But what if we approached life as being a soul who has a brain?
This heart-gut connection has been recognised throughout ancient cultures. And invariably, the ancients also knew that there was a special place in our brains that were connected to this center of our being. This organ in our brain is the pineal gland and we are now discovering that it is the only part of the brain that is not cordoned off from the blood like the rest of the brain. It also happens that theory suggests it is this pineal gland where we ‘see’ things. It is the fabled third eye, the illusive organ that ancients believed we used to travel to other dimensions, or see into the ethereal world. It is the all seeing eye of the shamans, the magic of the witches and the connection between our heart-gut center and our ability to envision and dream things for ourselves.
Love is the natural emotion of the heart. It is where we feel some of our strongest emotional signals – not just love, but heartbreak, grief, joy and a whole host of other emotions. Some of our emotions are felt in the gut area (e.g. worry, nervousness) but it is through the heart center that we generate our strongest feelings. It is where we feel our best and worst moments, the moments of pure elation, the moment we fall in love, the moment of connection with somebody, the despair we feel during the worst of times.
Modern science thinks that our gut is the primary source of our emotions. Our brain – perhaps through the pineal gland – and our gut work in tandem, and the gut is able to release chemicals and hormones that produce what we recognise as our emotions. Our brain can also instruct our gut to release theses chemicals that produce emotions. It is a two way system. It would make sense then that ancient cultures had a whole array of plants that they used to rebalance our emotional system. In a very real way, plants we ingest have a very real and physical effect on the way we feel, how we heal and how we process thoughts. If we accept that our brain and heart-gut center communicate in a two way system, then what we eat affects us on a mental level. If you have ever dived for the chocolate during stressful or lonely times, this is very real proof of the power of foods on our mental and emotional wellbeing. It is also the reason animals should not be eaten – we are literally taking in cruelty, horror, stress and any number of hormones, antibiotics and vaccines that are just not designed for the human system.
Looking at Yoga or Hinduism, the Heart Chakra lies halfway between our upper chakras and lower chakras. It is the meeting point and the central doorway between the two. The Heart Chakra is depicted with two interlocking triangles, one representing female and the other male. It is a true meeting point of dualities, of the rational, earthly Muladhara Chakra and Sacral Chakra and continuing up along until we meet the Third Eye chakra and Crown Chakra. It is the gatekeeper to the two way communication that flows between the two. This is the ancient description of what we now know to be true: the brain – gut connection.
What is it then that makes our heart feel extraordinary feelings of happiness, love, heartbreak and even despair? That this bloody organ at the center of our physical being would be the place where we feel the most deep and profound emotions? It is no accident that the heart, responsible for keeping blood flowing to everywhere and without which we cannot physically survive, is also the center where we literally feel that our emotions could break us apart.
When we have that feeling of true connection to someone our body responds in amazing ways. The brain-gut connection kicks into action and we start producing dopamine and other chemicals which elates our mood. But what drives this response? How do people look across the dance floor, never having known each other, fall deeply in love and have all these responses without every having spent any significant amount of time with the other first?
What if before the brain-gut kicked into action with its chemical overload, there was a precursor that our bodies recognised? That the ancient seat of our soul – the heart – was able to recognise signals and only then our physical symptoms like elation and love were produced?
And here enters the field of the heart and its electro-magnetic field. The heart is the largest emitter of electromagnetic energy in the body. We can think of the body’s electromagnetic field as the field produced by the vibrations of atoms and their constituent parts. We tend to see our body as a static entity, but the deeper we dive through our structure, we are little more than a coherent, vibrational chunk of energy that is constantly in movement. This movement of quarks and strings and sub atomic particles produces what we call the electromagnetic field of the body. This field seems to be unique to each person, as much as our fingerprints or DNA are.
When we put two magnets together they either attract or repel each other depending on the manner in which the magnetic forces of each point in different directions towards the other (attraction) or away from each other (repel). Science has also concluded that animals and birds use the earths magnetic field to navigate their journeys. There is research being conducted to see if humans also have a lost ability to recognise the earth’s magnetic field.
What if our recognition of a soul is the result of the electromagnetic fields of each person being attracted to each other? This attraction then goes on to signal the brain-gut connection to produce the chemicals that we recognise as the emotion of love. But the first cause isn’t the brain, or the gut, but something more profound – it is the soul’s vibrational pattern recognising another pattern that has the force of attraction. There are varying degrees of this merging of patterns but soul mates could have a deep and coherent pattern that merges to produce emotions that are beyond rational explanation at this point.
Our soul’s journey to enlightenment involves taking risk. It involves the heart knowing that all is love. It involves recognising that it is not with the brain that we connect with someone but through our heart. This also applies to places and situations. Energetic fields, what we might call electromagnetic fields or vibrational patterns, are recognised by our soul first (i.e. our heart center) which then signals the brain-gut connection. So we have arrived back to a point where shamans, asked where they think, point to the heart.
Unfortunately for us, we have grown up in an era where this type of thinking has been lost. We are brain orientated from a very early age. Our first instincts being parents or babies is to hug and kiss the newborn or cuddle to the parent. This is the heart connection. We don’t kiss our newborn baby because we ‘think’ we should, we just do! It is a raw heart emotion, unfettered by thoughts of the brain-ego. As the child grows, this wanes and the child is taught to obey social structures, follow commands, to think before they jump – in essence, to operate on a brain level. How many of us teach our kids to sit quietly and listen to their inner voice, their inner dream – this is the teaching of the third eye to interpret what the soul and our meaning is.
Imagine a world where we all followed our heart connection rather than the risk averse brain. Would we be in our current job? Our relationship? Would we be settling instead of reaching for lofty dreams? Perhaps this is what Steve Jobs meant when he asked himself every morning, “If I knew I was going to die today, would I still do what I am about to do?” This is akin to asking ourselves to listen to our heart, to our soul, to allow our deepest selves recognise that which we are in alignment with while shedding all the shallow, ego centered commands of the brain.