Many years ago I dated a woman with a breathing problem. Breathing in and breathing out was audibly strained. But as we fell in love, her breathing cleared.
It turns out that physical complaints often disappear, sometimes permanently, in the few weeks after falling in love.
Being in love involves the heart much more than at the metaphorical level. This column is about harnessing the healing power of the heart.
Many gurus advise, “Follow your heart.” Very few of them actually explain how to do it or why it’s important, but clearly two people who have just fallen in love are following their hearts.
We have learned a lot in the last 30 years about the role the heart plays in emotional, spiritual and physical health.
The heart is an electrical oscillator that puts out 40 to 60 times more electrical energy than the brain. It started beating before the brain was formed and it can beat on after the brain dies.
With negative emotion and stress, the heart’s electrical output is incoherent. Positive emotions such as appreciation, love and caring help your heart beat calmly, with a more coherent output.
When heart rhythm is coherent, other bodily systems, including the brain, tend to fall into coherence with the heart, because the heart is the most powerful electrical oscillator in our bodies.
So how do you follow your heart? To start with, when you are feeling stressed or overloaded, take a moment to get out of your head and drop into your heart by deliberately feeling one of the heart emotions for 15 or 20 seconds as you breathe.
Appreciation is a good heart emotion. Just think of or recall something you really appreciate.
This little exercise of getting into your heart via a heart emotion has the effect on the heart of making its rhythm more coherent. Then when your brain falls into coherence with your heart, you experience greater clarity of thought and increased sense of well being.
You have more energy and are more at peace.
However, the benefits don’t stop there. Besides the fact that your brain is functioning more efficiently, your immune system functions better and you have better hormonal balance. So the old exhortation to follow your heart had meaning far more profound than most ever realized. To truly be in sync with your heart is to be in sync at all levels of your being: body, mind and spirit.
Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist. You can reach him at 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact.