A Harmony of Head & Heart

One of my favorite singer-songwriters/musicians,Van Morrison, inspires me with his lyrics, “If my heart could do my thinking, and my head begin to feel, I would look upon the world anew, and know what’s truly real.” His words ring true for me now, but it washttps://i1.wp.com/us.cdn4.123rf.com/168nwm/buttet/buttet1208/buttet120800003/14691310-love-info-text-graphics-composed-in-head-and-heart-shape-concept-word-clouds.jpgn’t always so. Years ago, fear paralyzed me and anger wound me up. My body reacted before my mind could respond. I felt, and felt, and felt—sometimes to a fault.

I learned faulty feelings from my parents. My mother was ridden with anxiety; my father stuffed his anger until something or someone pushed him over the edge. Enraged, he’d explode. Terrified, I’d retreat. It wasn’t until I got into therapy at age 32 that I learned that I needn’t react to or suppress my emotions. I was determined to learn something my parents, despite their love for me, weren’t able to teach–how to engage the connection between head and heart in a healthy, functional way.

The latest research in neuroscience has proven that emotion and cognition are inseparable. Their interaction is hard-wired, and interestingly, science has proven that the neural connections from our emotion centers to our cognitive centers is more powerful the other way around. Makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it? Why else do we fall prey to anxiety or lose ourselves in anger? Why can’t we let go of frustration with those we love the most? On a more positive note, why do we fall hard when the love of our life appears? According to the Institute of Heartmath

Once an emotion is experienced, it becomes a powerful motivator of future behaviors, affecting moment-to-moment actions, attitudes and long-term achievements. Emotions can easily bump mundane events out of awareness, but non-emotional forms of mental activity (like thoughts) do not so readily displace emotions from the mental landscape. Likewise, experience reminds us that the most pervasive thoughts – those least easily dismissed – are typically those fueled by the greatest intensity of emotion.

For years, the therapeutic community rallied behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an approach that focused on changing our thoughts to help change our emotional response and/or behavior. Today we know that CBT isn’t enough. Emotions have to be addressed, since emotions, especially negative ones, frequently hijack our thinking. IHM’s research has proven that negative emotional states produce disorder in our heart rhythms and autonomic nervous system, fueling the body’s stress response. On the other hand, engaging positive feelings, most especially appreciation, balances our heart rhythms. It’s been scientifically proven that overwhelming emotions, such as anger, irritation, anxiety or frustration lose their power when we connect more deeply to our heart.

Van Morrison knew this intuitively when he penned the lyrics to a beautiful song, I Forgot That Love Existed. Take a listen…

Finally, scientists at Heartmath have proven it empirically. To experience increased harmony between your emotions and thoughts, I recommend a simple tool designed by Heartmath—The Quick Coherence Technique. Just follow these three quick steps or click here for a more detailed description…

  1. Heart Focus: Focus your attention on the area of your heart, the center of your chest.
  2. Heart Breathing: Breathe deeply but normally and feel as if your breath is coming in and out through your heart.
  3. Heart Feeling: As you maintain your heart focus and heart breathing, activate a positive feeling.

To learn more about other IHM’s tools, techniques, and technology visit www.heartmath.com. To learn more about the power of the heart, watch this brief YouTube video, then download IHM’s free eBook.

Step to the Right?

If you’ve never heard of Jill Bolte Taylor, let me introduce you to her. If you’ve read her book, My Stroke of Insight, or listened to her TEDTalk, you already know what an incredible gift she is to the world. A stroke victim, she found herself inside her brain as the boundaries of her body disintegrated into space. Wow! she writes. This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brains from the inside out?”

I write this post, not only to honor Jill Bolte Taylor, but to honor every man and woman who has ever suffered a stroke, including my dear friend, Lya Sorano. It’s impossible for me to imagine what it’s like to experience this trauma–but man! Jill Bolte Taylor does a superb job of helping us know. If you’ll excuse me now, I need to stop writing so you can start listening. Please listen to Jill. Her words are some of the most inspirational I’ve ever heard.

Over the next few months I’ll share more about the brain, most especially, the power we all possess to “step to the right” of our left hemisphere and experience what Jill did during her stroke–a deep inner-peace—where stress disappeared and her spirit soared. No matter our affliction, whether physical or psychological, the power of the right brain can help us heal, change, and grow.

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