We always refer to "heart" when we make our decisions emotionally and "brain" when we follow some instructions mechanically. It is quite obvious from the saying, "Follow your heart, not brain" which tells us to make our decisions emotionally based on our liking rather than following the herd.
Throughout the history and in various ancient cultures, heart is treated as the intelligent force behind all our thoughts and feelings we experience intuitively. In one of the oldest books of Egypt on wisdom "Ptah-Hotep" ('The God Ptah is satisfied'), it is said "Follow your heart during your lifetime; do not do more than what is commanded you." Old Testament of Bible says "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". "Let your heart guide your head in evil matters" is a very old and famous Spanish saying. The New Testament of the Bible has a reference to a reasoning heart, "What reason ye in your hearts". Bhagavad Gita talks about the intelligent/ignorant heart, "Sever the ignorant doubt in your heart with the sword of self-knowledge." The Chinese, Hebrew and the followers of Islam also have their interpretations of thinking heart.
|Brain vs. Heart (Source: Tumblr)|
But, did you ever try to logically think if these statements and interpretations make sense scientifically? Rather medically? I've not and now that I'm thinking in this direction my mind raises this question. Didn't our high-school science teacher tell us that heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood and maintains circulation to all parts of the body until we breathe for the last time, and it's the brain which has the ability to think and make decisions? And, it is quite possible that throughout this history, this attributed thinking ability of heart is a result of lack of understanding of our body's functionality or incorrect translations/interpretations of actual manuscripts written in various languages.
But, looks like I shouldn't have doubted the thinkers of the past and my high school teacher is not all that correct. Documented by scientific evidence, the heart communicates with the entire body neurologically, biochemically and bio-physically. Neurological communication happens through the impulses of nerve cells. Biochemical control comes through hormones and neurotransmitters. Bio-physically the heart can also send out pressure waves when it pumps the blood. Recent studies show that heart's innate capability to control the brain comes from electromagnetic interactions between them too. The heart generates body's strongest electromagnetic field which is 60 times stronger than what brain could produce. The rhythmic patterns of our beating heart changes with various emotions we go through. The experimental data also backs up the fact that positive emotions give out distinct mode of psycho-physiological coherence which leads to increased efficiency and harmony in the interactions of our entire body. Maintaining this harmony inside our body is important for being healthy, and this is why it's important to follow our heart.
Often, due to the challenges the society we live in poses, our decisions are not based on what our heart says. This leads to dilemma when our heart opposes the mind not only in the life changing career decisions but also in the simplest of the cases when we want to decide what to eat. Listening to heart might give satisfaction, but following the mind might lead to results and success. When I talk about results in this modern time, it is money. Because, mostly the measurement of success is in terms of the money we earn, the house we live and the cars we drive. And if you are a person of heart, I know it hurts. But, here is why you should follow your heart.
Do you know why most scientists lock themselves in labs and invent things they do? They work for their passion, they follow their heart. What would happen to all the innovation if those passionate entrepreneurs don't push the boundaries risking their careers? Bhagat Singh would have never started a revolution had he done what his brain said. Gandhi would have never cared for our freedom had he not followed his heart. Martin Luther King need not take that bullet had he not followed his heart. But, things would have been different had these great people followed their minds.
Remember how many lives changed when only a handful of people fought for what they believed and risked their lives despite knowing about the imminent hardships. What happens to this world if everyone follows their hearts and works for their passion? Why don't we do that?
|Tyler Durden (Source: Toonz)|
If you don't know the Tyler Durden I'm talking about, he's the character of the movie Fight Club which was made after the novel by the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk. When people ask me why I like the movie so much, I tell them only about the rush the movie gives. But, there is more than the adrenaline rush to it. It's not about just fighting or creating chaos. To me the movie is more of a preaching throwing some light on the way we live now. People do it every day, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage to just run with it. Tyler, in the movie, helps the protagonist by taking him down the path of enlightenment. For those of you who have seen the movie, do you remember the scene in which the penguin echoes "Slide" when the hero enters his secret cave in his mind? The power animal in that scene asks the hero to slide all those things that truly doesn't matter. To let go all the fear and distractions from being what you truly want to be. But, it was not easy for our protagonist to let go, and this is where Tyler helps him.
As Tyler said, "This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time." If only we have our own manifestations of Tyler Durdens in our life too, for those of us who want to follow our hearts but cannot.