Was Your Heart Designed to Think on Its Own?

by | Aug 29, 2022

two stick figures and a heart

Highlights for Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7)

Interesting question: does your heart have thoughts?

The conclusion you come to by the end of this article may surprise you!

The ancient Hebrews, Aristotle, and others considered the heart the center of understanding and conscious intellect. Robert Alter (The Hebrew Bible) shares that the Hebrews also believed the heart was a place to store wisdom.

I googled “center of consciousness” and found an interesting snippet of information quoted in many places. The source is unknown, but the insight is impressive.

“The heart represents the “central wisdom of feeling as opposed to the head-wisdom of reason” It is compassion and understanding, life-giving and complex. It is a symbol for love.” (Unknown)

This all reminds me of a conversation between my father and me back in my junior high days:

Dad: where do you feel yourself at, like where do you think “you” are in your body? Is it your heart or your head or somewhere else?

Me: My heart.

Dad: Me too.

Where Are You?

Let me ask the same question: Where do you feel your center of being and existence sits?

Many sources turn up when I google the topic of the center of consciousness. Most people feel their center of consciousness in their heart/chest or around the eyes.

I took a poll at my house, and for everyone here, it was somewhere near the eyes, including me. Yet, I have a distinct memory of that center residing in my heart. Which had me wondering, what changed and why? How does that work?

“…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Heart Is Ultra Smart

Review these facts from Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Director of Research at The Institute of HeartMath:

  • The heart is in a constant two-way dialogue with the brain. But, McCraty explains, the heart and cardiovascular system send far more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
  • Indeed, the neurons within the heart enable the heart to learn, remember, and make decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex.

“This has been known since the late 1800s but largely ignored…It is less commonly appreciated that afferents [heart signals that flow to the brain] profoundly affect the higher brain centers. Cardiovascular [signals] have numerous connections to brain centers…and they play a direct and important role in determining our perceptions, thought processes, and emotional experiences.”

“Recent work…has firmly established that the heart is a sensory organ and an information encoding and processing center, with a [independent] nervous system that’s sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a heart brain. Its circuitry enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the cranial brain. To everyone’s surprise, the findings have demonstrated that the heart’s nervous system is a complex, self-organized system; its neuroplasticity, or ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections over both the short and long term, has been well demonstrated.”

The Heart Is Powerful

  • The heart emits more electrical activity than the brain.
  • The heart emits an electrical field 60 times greater in amplitude than the activity in the brain and an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s.
  • The electromagnetic field of the heart is incredibly strong.
  • It can be measured not only anywhere on the body (using an EKG with electrodes on the ankles and wrists) but also for several feet outside the body.
  • Activity in one person’s heart can be measured in the brain waves of another person.
  • (Source: Thinking from the Heart)

Did you know your heart had these capacities? I didn’t learn all this until today!

Lead From the Heart

Have you ever heard the expression, “lead from the heart”? Today, I wonder how I can be more centered in my heart. Once, I listened to a professor at BYU share how he thinks from his heart:

  1. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite, most beautiful place.
  2. As you picture it, breathe deeply, in and out of your heart, at least three times.
  3. Then, ask your heart the question that is troubling or perplexing you.
  4. Pay attention to what the heart says. The heart is wise.

I’ve tried this several times recently, and I noticed the answers I find there are wise, unhurried, unworried, robust, solid, and calm. Perhaps, it is easier for the Spirit to influence my heart than my mind. With all the clutter in my head, it wouldn’t surprise me. While doing this 4-step exercise, I also noticed I could “feel” myself in my heart more. Perhaps it takes practice or intention?

Here is one person’s description of what leading from the heart looks like. Notice which one especially stands out for you today:

  • You embrace and exhibit…empathy, respect, cooperation, gratitude, and compassion.
  • You respond to your intuition and attune your mind to your instincts.
  • You openly respond to your primary human urge to give, share, and inspire.
  • You focus on giving and [let go of] your fears.
  • You let go of worry because you understand that you don’t need anything.
  • You are happy and satisfied with your actions, regardless of the outcome.
  • (Source: Connor Brooke of Business to Community)

When Our Heart Needs Help

Our heart is an endowment of power from God. It’s the first organ to develop in the womb and is designed to be a majestic force throughout our lives. Yet sometimes, our hearts fail us, and we may need help to get our hearts back on track. Consider asking Christ – ever ready to help:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you… (Ezekiel 36:26)

May you “take heart” (gain courage/confidence).

Timshel

Author’s Note: Every scientific fact cited in this article can be found at least half a dozen times from highly credible sources. I spent a lot of time triple and quadruple-checking facts. I only cite one source for each fact within the article – typically the one that is easier to read and understand. But I trust if you search them out yourself, you will find several substantial sources repeating the information. You can also google “neurocardiology.”

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6 Comments

  1. Garrick Simpson

    The very first quote is from a book by Anne Rice published 1990 titled the witching hour

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thank you for adding this. I will look into it. It may be found in that book, but it doesn’t appear to be the first instance.

      Reply
  2. Dad

    An interesting subject- As you remembered our earlier Jr. High era conversation, I have always felt centered in my heart. Accordingly, as I read about heart transplants, I have wondered if a person experiences more than an organ change, I hope I wouldn’t…
    Love, Dad

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Wow – I wondered if yours was still the heart area. I’ve heard that heart transplants can come with personality changes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be true.

      Reply
  3. Joel

    This article makes reconsider the implications of common expressions such as
    follow your heart
    With all my heart
    Change of heart
    Heart to heart
    Learn by heart
    Have your heart set on something

    Interesting…

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Love these sayings – they do take on extra meaning now.

      Reply

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