The Intelligent Heart

The Intelligent Heart

By Hwaa Irfan

It is the nature of materialistic/mainstream medicine to separate the part from the whole, with a resulting reductionist approach as to what is functioning mechanically, and what is not. If part is not working, it can be fixed through some sort of treatment, or removed, and if there is no progress the dark area of the unknown within modern medicine leaves it to die. It is only with the strides of men and women health professionals that have had made positive inroads into this materialistic way of thinking that any progress has been made, but still mainstream medicine maintains the shape of its true nature.

Ignoring that our immune system is unable to facilitate the role of fighting of colds, flu’s and herpes when we are experiencing long-term emotional/psychological stress, and the ability to recover from major illnesses, and post-operative care is due to general well-being. Relegated to the seat of the emotions, the heart in terms of disease has become the number one cause of death in the U.S.

As such, most of us have come to view our bodies in such a way, and more or less expect our bodies to behave perfectly with the help of mainstream medicine. As education and mainstream perception of the brain have taken up this pattern of understanding, more and more focus has been on the brain as he driver behind intelligence, with good education, and a good job as the paradigm to be fulfilled. After all it is pragmatic, and therefore achievable with clear signs towards achieving this goal. Today we have  a  tendency to not believe otherwise, and while modern/mainstream science is still catching up with the wisdom-based knowledge of certain indigenous, religious and spiritual landscape of the human body,

When this almost instant solution does not happen, we begin to fall prey to the feeling of powerlessness over our lives, the result of which is depression. However, most belief systems rooted in the Laws of Nature, have always known otherwise when it comes to the relationship between the heart and the brain. It was in 1999 at a workshop on the Alchemy of the heart when Sheikh Muhammad Maulad said:

“The actual physical heart in our breast beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping two gallons of blood per minute, 100 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for an entire lifetime! The vascular system that sends this life-giving blood is over 60,000 miles long: it is more than two times the circumference of the earth. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the heart starts beating before the brain is formed; the heart begins to beat without any central nervous system. The dominant theory was that the central nervous system is what is controlling the entire human being from the brain, yet we know now that in fact the nervous system does not initiate the heartbeat. It is actually self-initiated; we would say, it is initiated by Allah subhanahu wa t’ala.

The Brain Connection!

The heart starts functioning before the embryo becomes a fetus, and receives information intuitively before the brain even forms, which places a question over when to abort an unborn child. Neurocardiologist researcher, Dr. J. Andrew first described the heart brain in 1991 as containing 40,000 neurons with a complex circuitry, which is able to sense, regulate and remember, i.e. not a mechanical organ, but a sensory organ that is able to process, encode information, and facilitate decisions about its activity over the central nervous system. “The heart-brain is able to sense hormones, heart-rate, blood pressure, and then translate them into neurological impulses”, the biochemical content of the local blood flow, and process all that information within the heart-brain, not the brain. It is only then that the information is sent to the central nervous system through the vagus nerves, and the spinal column! It has been known in the scientific world since 1967 (through the work of Chernigovskiy ) that the neural data from the heart influences the function if other organs and biological systems, like the nervous, respiratory, lymphatic, skeletal, and endocrine systems, the digestive tract, the urinary bladder, the spleen. We know some of this for ourselves if we have ever experienced the kind of nervousness that rushes us to the bathroom, or the nervous colon or stomach cramps when a certain situation presents its self!

The Institute of HeartMath, IHM founded in 1991 has been exploring the physiological mechanisms of the heart, which has had a good response more so from the field of alternative health, than mainstream medicine. In 2009, research by IHM had found that the alpha and beta waves of the brain are synchronized to the heart with increased alpha waves occurring when there is greater psycho-physiological occurrence. What this means is that when there is synchronicity between the mind and the body, and alpha waves (connects conscious with subconscious, memory recall, ability to focus, truly relaxed, meditative state, creative flow) is greater. The body is therefore in greater balance and not compromised by dis-ease through stress, anxiety and going against what is right for the body-mind relationship. We are warned in the following ahadith when Wabisa ibn Ma’bad went to consult with Prophet Muhammed (SAW):

Forgetting that our Creator created all life forms, and is more capable of creating complex biological ecosystems that interdependently function without deteriorating into a state of chaos man has ignored the essence of his own being in favor of something more practical and more dysfunctional. The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, in line with the Chinese human energy field of the chakras, which aligns the thymus (part of the hormonal system) with the heart chakra.  In 2009, IHM found that the heart with its own neurological network of 40,000 neurons (referred to as the heart-brain) governs the brain, and that the brain does not govern the whole body as mainstream medicine and education has led us to believe. Yet, the heart produces hormones and neurotransmitters! The atria of the heart produces the hormone atrial peptide/balancing hormone affecting the electrolytic balance in the blood vessels, the kidneys, adrenal glands and the regulatory regions of the brain. The heart also produces the bonding hormone, oxytocin active in the roles of

  • Love
  • Bonding
  • Childbirth
  • Lactation
  • Trust
  • Cognition
  • Complex sexual and maternal behaviors
  • Learning social cues
  • Long term pair bonding

Most hormones produced in the heart are released in synchronization with the rhythm of the heart, and in doing so generates the most powerful and extensive rhythmic electromagnetic field produced by the body.  This produces an electric voltage 60 times more powerful than the brain affecting every cell in the body, and a magnetic field 5,000 times more powerful than the brain radiating out of the body several feet away. This human energy field has long been recognized by all forms of Vibrational Healing  as it is the means by which Vibrational Healing  works!  Now branches of mainstream science has proven that the human energy field produced by the heart and the brain is not bound by time or space, which has been proven by most forms of distant healing, and prayer!

{We have created man and We know what his soul suggests to him, for We are higher unto him than the neck-artery…} (50:16)

Schooling, and media continuously bombards us with information, all of which we cannot process. We think that there is something wrong with us when we cannot process all that information, and may even simplify what information we do process filtering out what is really important/necessary. However, in reality, our cognitive abilities are reduced when there is too much external stimuli, and this is indicated by the decrease in alpha waves.

Input to the brain from the heart influences the function of the thalamus, thus affecting the ability of the thalamus to plays its role in synchronizing brain activity.  The thalamus is located in the front of the brain, and is concerned with sensory input, the relationship between sensory and motor input, as well as related cognition and perception.

Life Lessons

IHM research has identified 4 psychological modes that affect the synchronicity of the heart and the brain in everyday life in relation to cognition:

Mental Focus

  • Impassive emotions while focusing on a task

The heart and brain responds with low brain frequency, and a more harmonic pattern of brain waves.

Psycho-physiological Incoherence

  • Negative emotions like anxiety, anger and frustration

The heart and brain responds with a lower brain frequency (sympathetic nervous system activity), and arrhythmic heart pattern.

Psycho-physiological Coherence

  • Sustained positive emotions that arise for care, appreciation, compassion

The heart and brain responds with a peak in the low frequency brain waves, increased synchronicity between sympathetic  and parasympathetic nervous systems, heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. There is also increased parasympathetic activity at its level of resonance and greater synchronization with the heart-brain of the heart.

Relaxation

  • Calm emotions while at rest from the stressors of life

The heart and brain responds with a higher brain frequency (parasympathetic activity), decreased autonomic outflow, and a lower heart rate.

Then there are two psychological modes that occur under extraordinary life circumstances

Emotional Quiescence

  • Heart-focused. The exclusion of external chatter, the feeling of internal peace, and heart-centered serenity. Able to discern the flow of energy within, and to and from others.

The heart and brain responds low brain frequency, and a very low heart rate (almost flat-line) with very little power elsewhere.

Extreme Negative Emotions

  • Highly focused intense fear, rage with intense physical power, and decreased sensitivity to physical pain.

The heart and brain responds with excessive parasympathetic activity, heart rhythm almost flat-line, but with a very high heart rate preventing parasympathetic flow to the heart.

“You have come to ask about righteousness? I said: “Yes.” He said “Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels tranquil, and wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and moves to and fro in the breast even though people again and again have given you their legal opinion [in its favor.” – (An Nawawi #27)

It is only in secular thinking that we have learnt to separate the body from the mind, and the mind from the heart. We have given supremacy to the brain, neglecting the heart and the soul. Yet, the laws of nature that our bodies have been assembled on show to us every day that when we act against our bodies, we also act against our hearts, and our minds. We may not be aware of this, and that is because we have been entrained to not think this way. Not only that, we do not see the connection with the global deterioration of health and well-being.

By connecting how we feel with how we think, we complete the circuitry of our bodies to a level that we are not only better able to process information, but discern which information which is actually useful to us. This leaves us with more energy to evolve as human beings, and evolve as a society at large. There is increased vitality to cope with the challenges that life presents to us as we connect to positive feelings of compassion, courage, patience, sincerity, appreciation and gratitude for this is the source of the intelligence of the heart.

For those who pray and/or meditate on a daily basis, the opportunity presents its self to take time out to reduce the external chatter/stimuli enough to realign with the heart, as we breathe into the heart, and become receptive to the inner voice of the soul. We have the chance to reevaluate our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and those we care for to realign with our heart-brain. We have the chance to move on where others are not ready to move on, and to evaluate what really is important midst the daily demands that can sometimes overwhelm us. Every moment is a new opportunity, and every day presents us with new lessons to learn from.

The energy point for the heart or heart chakra is above the naval, between the shoulder blades. Of the seven major chakras, it is considered the bridge between our lower/outer selves, and the higher/inner selves. The lessons we must learn here are service, compassion, the ability to give and receive love, overcoming distance, hatred and restlessness. When this part of our being is balanced and open we are able to transcend the ego and be:

  • Balanced
  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic
  • Humanitarian
  • See the good in everyone
  • Desire to nurture others
  • Outgoing
  • Active in the community
  • Discriminate justly
  • In touch with one’s feelings
  • Have a living understanding of unity
  • Give and receive love
  • Dissatisfied in a marriage that lacks spirituality
  • Wait for the right partner
  • Highest expression is Divine bliss

When the heart chakra is out of balance, and the inclination is outward, the tendency is to be:

  • Demanding
  • Overly critical
  • Tense between the shoulder blades
  • Possessive
  • Moody
  • Melodramatic
  • Manic-depressive
  • Controlling of others by use of money
  • “I have made so many sacrifices for you…”
  • A master of conditional love

When the heart chakra is out of balance, and the inclination is inward, the tendency is to be:

  • Self pitying
  • Paranoid
  • Indecisive
  • Afraid of letting go/being free
  • Getting hurt/family members getting hurt
  • Being abandoned
  • Feel unworthy of love
  • Can’t reach out
  • Terrified of rejection
  • Need constant reassurance

Some of the symptoms pertaining to an imbalanced heart  chakra are:

  • Heart pains/attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Negativity
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Cancer

It is not too difficult to see a correlation between the heart-brain findings of IHM, and the Chinese human energy field of the chakras, which also correlates with the Islamic system of the human energy field of the lata‘if. In fact, Sheikh Hisham Al-Kabbani identifies the lata‘if of the heart as follows:

“above and below the heart, above and below the left breast, above and below the right breast, and one on the forehead.”

Through meditation, prayer, self development and one’s actions, one can lead a healthier more contented life by shifting from the ego-centered self (al-nafs al-‘ammarah – 12:53), to the higher self  self’ (al-nafs al-mutma’innah – 89:27), from ‘acquired knowledge’ (al-‘ilm al-‘ifadi) and inspired knowledge (al-‘ilm al-ladunni -18:65) resonating with the heart-brain, and the soul of who truly are or we can suffer the personal, social, and global consequences. Only then can it be said without incrimination to follow the heart for:

“Why then was she [the soul] cast down from her high peak

To this degrading depth? God brought her low;

But for a purpose wise, that is concealed

E’en from the keenest mind and liveliest wit.

And if the tangled mesh impeded her,

The narrow cage denied her wings to soar

Freely in heaven’s high ranges, after all

She was a lightening-flash that brightly glowed

Momently o’er the tents, and then was hid

As though its gleam was never glimpsed below.” – Ibn Sina

Sources:

Gardner, J. “Color and Crystals.”  The Crossing Press, U.S. 1988.

Goleman, D. “Emotional Intelligence.” Bantam Book, U.S. 1995.

IHM. “Science of the Heart.”  http://www.heartmath.org/free-services/downloads/science-of-the-heart.html

Maulad, M.  Tr. Yusuf, H. “The Alchemy of the Heart.” http://muslim-canada.org/alchofheart2.html

McCraty, R et al. “The Coherent Heart.” Integral Review. December 2009. Vol 5: #2 http://www.integral-review.org/documents/McCraty%20et%20al,,%20Coherent%20Heart,%20Vol.%205%20No.%202.pdf

Nasr, S. H. “An Introduction to The Islamic Cosmological Doctrine.”  Thames and Hudson, U.K.  1978.

Related Topics:

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

Discovering Your Emotional Intelligence

The Brain Says Men and Women are Different When It Comes to Stress

Attention Deficit or Information Overload in Our Children?

The Importance of the Creative Principle in Life

Distractions of Life vs. God

The Charity of Love

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

A Depleted Spiritual Bank Account

Reliving the Art of Communication

The Collective Intelligence of Women

Self-Awareness: Between Me, Myself and Others

Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”

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