Monday, November 23, 2015

The Heart Informs the Brain


The heart and brain are our two most vital organs. We need them to function physically, but also mentally and emotionally. While scientists have developed a good understanding of how the two organs communicate with each other, there is now emerging research on how this interaction affects our consciousness.

Arjun Walia summarizes some of the fascinating research recently undertaken by the HeartMath Institute. We often think of the brain as the command center, responsible for how our whole body functions, but scientists now know that the heart in fact sends more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart. The heart therefore affects how we think and function emotionally; conscious awareness comes from the brain and heart working together.

Perhaps this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. From everyday experience we know that when we are calm and the heart beats steadily, we are more able to think clearly. When we are in a stressful situation or panicking, our heart tends to race and our clarity of thought is hindered making it more difficult to think, remember or learn. So different emotional states send different signals to the brain and affect our cognitive functions.

But what isn’t well understood is where these emotional states come from in the first place. Research in this area poses really interesting questions about consciousness and how it interplays with the material world. Is consciousness a product of the brain or a receiver of it?

The science out there is complicated and relates to quantum mechanics. But essentially, how we think about the world around us affects the way we see and interact with it. This can also create a collective consciousness which is stubbornly difficult to challenge even when many individuals may have a different view of the world. Given the idea of consciousness is rather abstract (and even spiritual) it seems a little strange to see it analyzed scientifically as a state of matter. But understanding how we interact with the world around us will help us to better comprehend one another and perhaps develop a more empathetic, emotionally aware society.

Image source: wearechange.org

1 comment:

Simon Bell said...

A book called 'Self Comes to Mind' by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio is a brilliant read on this type of subject. If you haven't read it already you absolutely should!