The Resonant Heart
MANY BELIEVE THAT CONSCIOUS awareness originates in the brain alone. Recent scientific research suggests that consciousness actually emerges from the brain and body acting together. A growing body of evidence suggests that the heart plays a particularly significant role in this process. Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional “brain.” Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that the heart a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex.
Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception,cognition,and emotional processing. In addition to the extensive neural communication network linking the heart with the brain and body, the heart also communicates information to the brain and throughout the body via electromagnetic field interactions.
The heart generates the body’s most powerful and most extensive rhythmic electromagnetic field. Compared to the electromagnetic field produced by the brain, the electrical component of the heart’s field is about 60 times greater in amplitude, and permeates every cell in the body. The magnetic component is approximately 5000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body with sensitive magnetometers.
The Resonance Project
Another view of heart intelligence and its connection with the traditional role of the brain in intelligence is posited by Doc Childre and Howard Martin in their groundbreaking research at the HeartMath Institute in California. Suggesting that the heart contains intelligence that is communicated to the brain and the rest of the body, Childre and Martin identify three ways for which there is solid scientific evidence: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (through hormones and neurotransmitters), and biophysically (through pressure waves). Additionally, they say, there is growing scientific evidence that the heart communicates energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions) and that, as the most powerful energetic field in the body – approximately five thousand times greater in strength than the field produced by the brain – has a vital role to play in the management of health in human beings.
The data provides evidence that, “…there’s a direct energetic interaction between the electromagnetic field produced by the heart and that produced by the brain,” and that certain emotions directly correspond with specific patterns of heart rate. For example, in negative emotional states, such as anger or frustration, the heart rate variability pattern (HRV) is incoherent, random, and jerky while in positive emotional states such as appreciation, love, and care, the HRV pattern is coherent and ordered.
The attainment of the goal, therefore, of a healthier heart and life is influenced by the management of such emotions in order to reduce the wear and tear on the cardiac system. (Childre and Martin, 1999). Using these findings, these authors and researchers have invented and tested specific techniques for individuals to use to “entrain” their heart and brain waves and reduce stress and improve overall health.
The heart then, according to various perspectives, has a part to play in the intelligence of the human system, particularly as it relates to emotions. In this section I have explored some of these perspectives and how they relate to the connection between the heart and the brain. The next section of this paper explores what, more specifically, is meant by “intelligence” and how the heart might be considered separately from the brain, to which it is usually irrevocably tethered.