Why Heart Matters

Using Our Hearts to Speak to Our Brains to Shape Our Lives

What does being Heart-Centered mean?

Being heart-centered means coming back to the heart to lead oneself in life or in a specific domain of life by tapping into the heart’s virtues and capacities such as care, respect, fairness, nurturing, and love.

While these qualities are fundamental to humanity, many of us don’t fully live from the heart, and we suffer as a result.

First, let me share some details about the physical heart that we’ve intuitively always known but didn’t have proof for, then I’ll speak about the symbolic heart as it relates to leading our lives from our most cherished values and virtues like courage and compassion.

The Heart Can Speak to the Brain

Research in the field of neuro-cardiology (also known as psycho-cardiology) has shown that the heart is much more than just a blood pump; it’s also involved in bi-directional communication with the brain.

In fact, the heart sends more information to the brain than the other way around. By changing the “state” of our heart with thought and intention, we can communicate positive messages of safety and wellbeing to our brains, reinforcing a positive response and reducing chronic stress. Nurturing health and enabling us to be our best selves – within and without – in our inner worlds and in our relationships with others and the world.

Many of us tend to unknowingly communicate false messages of danger and threat, reinforcing a stress response until we are living chronically in a highly aroused/stressed/taxed state of being much or most of the time.

Coming back to the heart, we can bring our nervous systems, brains and hearts into a more optimal state called coherence, so we can actualize our potential, shape our lives from our core values, and so we can live and lead with calm, compassion and courage.

Psycho-Physiological Coherence

When in a coherent state, and by increasing your baseline coherence level with regular practice:

  • our body’s systems function more efficiently,
  • we mitigate against stress & boost immune function,
  • we manage ourselves more intelligently,
  • we’re more emotionally stable, calm & compassionate,
  • we have more mental clarity,
  • we boost our ability to think more creatively & effectively,
  • we manage our energy better, increasing resilience,
  • we have more inner balance, focus & concentration,
  • we increase our performance & productivity,
  • we improve our decision making,
  • we increase our ability to tune in to & use our intuition,
  • we improve our collaboration with others,
  • we simply feel, think, relate, and perform better.

How does the heart do this?

We can lean on The HeartMath Institute’s research and training over the past three decades to explain it, and to inform us with their proven training practices, which are being used all over the world by organizations like: medical centers, universities, NASA, military, first responders, businesses, and many more.

HeartMath’s practices exercise and involve the heart, mind, emotions and the breath to help us generate coherence and create a more optimal state of being, which helps us mitigate against the effects of long term stress, build resilience, and improve how we experience stressors in the present, ultimately improving our psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Here are a few important links for HeartMath:

Science of the Heart

HeartMath Resources

Intro to HeartMath

Please visit www.heartmath.org to learn more. Better yet, I highly encourage you to watch The HeartMath Experience and begin your coherence training on your own.

The HeartMath Experience

The link to the course is Experience.HeartMath.com


But wait, there’s more…

The Polyvagal Theory

In addition to HeartMath’s research and practices, I have been studying the field of trauma and its effects on the mind and body for nearly a decade, and have learned much from Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.

According to the Polyvagal Theory, developing higher Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Vagal Tone is essential in opening us up to and connecting us with our Social Engagement System, a branch of our Autonomic Nervous System. This helps put the brakes on our Sympathetic Nervous System’s chronic dominance in our stress response patterns, which can lead to illness and disease, both mental and physical.

When we are in our Social Engagement System, our bodies and minds support health, growth, and restoration. We are open-hearted, feel safe, and connected. As a result, we function optimally and experience a state of flow, connection, calm, creativity, and compassion. Our immune systems function more optimally, as well as nearly every other life-sustaining capacity.

To learn more how these fit together and how we can cultivate resilience and well-being, please read The Heart of Resilience.


The Symbolic Heart

For eons, our ancestors have known about the special qualities of the human heart – it’s where we seem to feel love and other emotions so strongly, we feel it’s the core of who we are – our Self.

We can call on the heart in much the same way, finding freedom from the grip of the incessantly thinking mind (monkey mind), especially when it’s being hyper-critical and negative (mean monkey mind), to connect with our personal & spiritual core and learn to let its more holistic and intuitive wisdom guide our lives. Essentially, to become Self-led.

Heart-Based Values

Through coaching, I help people clarify and prioritize their personal values. This involves engaging and challenging coaching exercises and tools to help them truly connect to the core of their being and make important decisions about how they intend to live, who they want to be, what work they want to do, and more.

With their values clarified and prioritized, people can guide their lives and make decisions with more confidence, certainty, trust, and ease. Heart-based values can be used to create an inspiring and motivating vision of the future people wish to create and to guide them in the moment by reflecting on a simple, binary choice: am I living from the heart, honoring my values? Or am I moving away from my values to avoid discomfort, pain, stress, or fear?

With these two main pillars of managing our inner world more effectively and knowing how we wish to live, we can ultimately honor the words inspired by Gandhi: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

For these reasons and many more, we can see that the heart is indeed a very special gift. One that we could use more wisely and lovingly in our lives. It matters, and I hope to help people embrace it more in their lives.


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