“Oh, I see;” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”
“Have you any?” inquired the Scarecrow.
“No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman; “but once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.”
from The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
Have you ever experienced a battle between your head and your heart?
This has happened for me and most of my clients, especially around decision-making. Examples include relationships, work, or financial issues. Your brain is rational, logical and makes decisions based on past experience and your belief systems. Your heart, though, is what we think of in matters of emotion, love or desire.
The Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz wanted a heart because he wanted to be able to love. The wizard told him two interesting things.
“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable” and “A heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.”
How Our Hearts and Well-being are Linked
Our bodies are so very wise. According to WebMD, 75 to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for “stress-related ailments and complaints.” Many of us are learning to honor the wisdom our bodies have to share with us. Headache? High blood pressure? Back pain?
The Institute of HeartMath is a research center dedicated to the study of the heart and the physiology of emotions. (I’ve taken the info below from their website because I can’t explain it all any better.)
“We suggest that by creating an alignment and connection between our mind and heart, and with each other’s hearts, we awaken the higher mental, emotional and spiritual capacities that are dormant within us.”
Heartmath’s research shows that “when we experience heart-felt emotions like love, care, appreciation and compassion, the heart produces a very different rhythm. In this case it is a smooth pattern that looks like gently rolling hills. Harmonious heart rhythms, which reflect positive emotions, are considered to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance. This lets the brain know that the heart feels good and often creates a gentle warm feeling in the area of the heart. Learning to shift out of stressful emotional reactions to these heartfelt emotions can have profound positive effects on the cardiovascular system and on our overall health.”
Using Our Heart’s Intuitive Guidance
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based in the concept that our thoughts, then our beliefs about those thoughts combined with past experiences, create our feelings. There are many useful techniques to help people understand how their thought patterns contribute to their “feeling state.” However, there’s also a feedback loop of feeling states in the body being communicated TO our brain. It’s important that we learn to listen and value the information rather than thinking this is an either/or proposition.
Start by noticing the chatter in your head. There are several simple meditation techniques to quiet your mind a bit, and be in acceptance that our brain needs to do its thing sometimes.
Next, place your hand on your heart and become aware of your breath. Imagine and feel the warmth, maybe even pink light surrounding your heart in your chest. Feel the warmth expanding as you call to mind almost any positive experience – with a focus on compassion, gratitude, love, or joy.
It may take a little practice, but it’s a simple way to begin to shift your feeling state by connecting your head and your heart.
There’s more – I believe our Spirit is a key piece in the process, but that’s for another day . . .
I’d love to hear about any experiences you have in the comments below.