As Gregg Braden states in his book, Resilience From The Heart, "A growing body of scientific evidence now suggests that the pumping of the heart, as important as it is, may pale in comparison with the additional functions that have been recently discovered. In other words, while the heart indeed pumps blood powerfully and efficiently through the body, the pumping may not be its primary purpose."
Our heart constantly sends signals to our brain, however our brain sends much fewer signals back to our heart. By harmonizing our heart and our brain (heart-brain coherence) we can tap into deep intuition, heart-based intelligence and wisdom.
Signals generated from our heart to our brain determines what chemicals our brain tells our body to produce in response. Our body can produce stress induced chemicals or chemicals that promote feeling good, health, well-being and social connection.
Signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect not only ourselves, but others around us as well. Our heart creates an energetic field which travels out from our body impacting the outside world.
For me, living a heart-centered life means tapping into this "little" second brain, this heart-based wisdom and intelligence. It means working to set aside my ego and approach life from my heart-center, which is a place of love and compassion. To be heart-centered is synonymous with tapping into our higher-self. Living from this state of being is optimal for health, healing, wisdom and intuition.
To stay heart-centered is an actual physical practice, and like all things by practicing we get better at it. We build strength and stamina. The practice includes pulling your awareness, from your head center (or your ego) to your heart center (or your higher-self).
The heart center is the area behind the sternum/breastbone, up to the top of the sternum (just below the Adam's apple) and back to between the shoulder blades. This whole area is considered your heart center.
Where you touch your awareness goes. Simply by placing my hand over my heart center for a few moments brings my focus and attention to my heart, which automatically creates a natural shift in my thoughts, feelings and energy. Where attention goes, energy flows. Go ahead and give it a try and see how it feels.
Now that your hand is over your heart center, steady or slow your breathing and bring into your heart space feelings of care, gratitude, compassion, or love for someone or something. Conjuring up these feelings, embracing them, savoring or sustaining them in your heart space while placing your hand over your heart center is key.
Next, if you would like, ask your heart a question. Maybe there is a decision you are trying to make but can't decide what you should do, ask your heart for the answer. Instead of making a list of pros and cons or using our brain's intellect, our heart-based intelligence knows what is in our highest and best good.
The wisdom of your heart already exists within you. It can be trusted and relied on to guide your life. It holds the key to your deepest truths. I invite you to practice using your heart-center more to guide you through life versus relying on your brain power. The wisdom carried in its guidance will best serve your highest and best good.
Gregg Braden, author of Resilience From The Heart, offers the following steps for accessing your heart’s intelligence:
Step 1: Focus Your Heart
Action: Allow your awareness to move from your mind to the area of your heart.
Result: This sends a signal to your heart that a shift has taken place—you are no longer engaged in the world around you and are now becoming aware of the world within you.
Step 2: Slow Your Breathing
Action: Begin to breathe a little more slowly than usual, allowing five to six seconds for your inhale and exhale.
Result: This simple step sends a second signal to your body that you are safe and in a place that supports your process. Deep, slow breathing has long been known to stimulate a relaxation response of the nervous system (the parasympathetic response).
Step 3: Feel a Rejuvenating Feeling
Action: To the best of your ability, feel a genuine sense of caring, appreciation, gratitude, or compassion for anything or anyone.
Result: The key to success here is for your feeling to be as sincere and heartfelt as possible. As described previously, it’s the quality of this feeling that fine-tunes and optimizes the coherence between your heart and your brain. While everyone is capable of this experience, it’s one of those processes that you may need to experiment with to find what works best for you.
Step 4: Ask Your Heart Intelligence a Question
Action: The previous three steps create the harmony between your brain and your heart that enables you to tap into your heart’s wisdom. As you continue to breathe and hold the focus in your heart, this is the time to ask your question.
Result: Heart intelligence generally works best when the questions are brief and to the point. Remember, your heart doesn’t need a preface or the history of a situation before the question. Ask your question silently as a single concise sentence and then allow your heart’s wisdom to respond in a way that works for you.
Step 5: Listen
Action: Become aware of how your body feels immediately as you are asking your question. Make a note of any sensations such as warmth, tingling, ringing of the ears, and emotions that may arise. Everyone learns and experiences uniquely. There is no correct or incorrect way of receiving your heart’s wisdom. The key here is to know what works best for you.
Result: For people who are already attuned to their bodies’ and their hearts’ intelligence, this step is the easiest part of the process. For those who may have less experience in listening to their bodies, this is an exercise in awareness.