“We do not get to the top of the mountains by sitting. We get there by inching forward and upward” (Noora, my daughter)
While I am typing this blog I am sitting on the Serrania Ronda Mountains listening to crickets. Life around me is vibrant, intriguing and there is a deep, saturating calm.
A couple of weeks ago I delivered a workshop in the UK on Balancing Heart and Mind and the question I got asked most often about the topic is: How do I know when I need to listen to my Heart or my Mind?
So here are three things you did not know about the heart and mind connection from neuroscience and my personal perspective.
1. Your Brain is not in charge
… take a deep breath. Yes. It is true. However smart our brains are, however clear we are about the left and right hemispheres, all of our decisions are connected to messages we receive from our heart.
Here is how:
The heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that makes it sufficiently qualified to be called as a “little brain”. This part of the heart is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, protein and support cells similar to those found in the cranial brain. This sophisticated system enables the heart to act, learn, remember, feel and sense independently. There are about 40,000 neurons in the heart’s nervous system which create certain nerve pathways that enter the brain at the area of the medulla. They then travel further to the higher center of the brain influencing perceptions, decision making and other cognitive processes. (the concept of the heart brain was introduced by Dr. Andrew Armour).
- Your Mind does not take you anywhere. It is only the heart that can guide you to adventurous, innovative and creative territories.
While the heart can sense, feel, think and even act independently, it needs the brain to create structures around the heart’s yearning. So while essentially the heart guides, it asks the brain to help articulate reality.
My favorite clients are non-conformist, brainy people who dare to walk on their own, unique path. What is common in all of them is their intrinsic need and curiosity to listen to what their heart wants and articulating it with their intelligent brain and figure out logistics how to create their heart path.
I like to demonstrate this by stating that our brain’s left hemisphere symbolizes our mind (that loves structure, planning and logistics) and our right hemisphere symbolizes our heart, the one that dare, takes leaps of faith and full of wisdom the brain cannot fathom. More on the left and right hemispheres in the coming weeks!
When they work together in harmony, we experience equilibrium and move forward from being stuck to being purpose driven.
- The Wisdom of Your Heart is more important than the Smartness of your Brain
It is a well-known fact that heart centered ( i.e. emotionally intelligent) people make better decisions, live more meaningful lives and have more satisfying careers. (I would also add that they enjoy a more pleasurable life by earning money from doing what they love).
I have worked with incredibly smart leaders, executives and creative people who demonstrated that emotional truth is more important than intellectual facts. To be emotionally fluent is heart work and that makes us a unique human being whether we are the principal of a corporation or an independent business owner.
Why is this so important? – I hear you asking.
Because we only have one life and I believe we would rather be remembered for being truthful, compassionate and sincere followers of our own life than intelligent leaders of other people’s agenda.
This is not neuroscience, it is just how I envisage the world to be.
You know I am curious and would love to know what you have learnt or found useful from this post. Please share it with us. If you are ready to work with me drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
To Your Heartmsmart Life!