The Heart

There are several definitions for heart, generally referring to its physical and emotional character. Here we are talking about the heart defined as “3. basis of emotional life, 4. character, 5. compassion, 6. affection, 7. spirit” (Encarta Dictionary). Definition three describes the heart as “the source and center of emotional life, where the deepest and sincerest feelings are located and a person is most vulnerable to pain” (Encarta Dictionary). The capacities of the mind are generally associated with the physical brain, as those of the emotional and spiritual heart may be associated with the physical heart; however, they are different.

We traditionally have seen the heart as an important part of our natures, and many everyday expressions, such as to give or take heart, demonstrate its role in our lives. Modern science is providing evidence to support that the physical heart is connected to our metaphysical heart. We have come to learn that the organ of the heart does more than pump blood. It communicates neurologically, biochemically, electromagnetically and hydrostatically with the rest of the body. HeartMath is one such research-based approach to use scientific data to identify and develop the capacities of the heart and describe how they are regulated by love (Childre & Martin, 1999).

Those interested in developing human resources and other’s capacities should first purify their own hearts with love and altruism so that the mind and heart, reason and emotion and thinking and feeling can work together effectively. The heart manifests an affective state of consciousness, distinguished from cognitive and volitional states. It is influenced by the mind and will, and it also influences them. Emotional health, morality and spirituality affect the ability to attach effectively to others, regulate emotion and moods, cognitively process and act responsibly (Stillwell, 2002).

Love is the vital and potent releaser of the heart’s potential. Loving relates to affect, “a feeling or emotion as distinguished from cognition, thought, or action” (Webster’s Dictionary). Any resource development effort not motivated and guided by the principle of love will be limited or harmful in its effect. Love is the foundation of healthy development in individuals, institutions and societies. It is the foundation of unity and attitude. It can overcome conflict and hate through self-sacrificing and selfless actions for others’ good and by giving priority to legitimate needs of others over our own needs.

What are some tools that help develop the heart? Traditionally used were prayer, meditation and reciting sacred scripture. Service to others, overlooking their faults and loving them as a daily practice were also encouraged. HeartMath recommends consciously disengaging from mental and emotional reactions while focusing on the area around your heart and positive emotions such as love, locking in to the hearts power and cutting through distorted feelings. These tools have been shown to improve physical, mental and emotional health (Childre & Martin, 1999).


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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