“Imagine that two jumbo 747 jet airplanes full of passengers crashed every day with no survivors. (I looked it up and one 747 holds a maximum of 600 passengers!) That’s the number of people who die of heart disease daily in the United States. We hear much about the major risk factors for developing heart disease, including high cholesterol, obesity, smoking and high blood pressure, yet about half of those who suffer their first heart attack have none of these common risk factors, more than eight out of ten people with three of these risk factors never suffer a heart attack, and most people who do have heart attacks do not have most of the risk factors. There seems to be something else at work when it comes to heart disease, perhaps the fact that the brain constantly seems to be abusing it.” The Heart’s Code by Dr. Pearsall
It’s been almost two months now since my husband Ron had his heart attack. He was one of the lucky ones who lived not only to tell the story but miraculously, escaped without any damage to his heart although there was over a 90% blockage in one of the coronary arteries. Genetically, he is predisposed to a history of Type 2 diabetes and heart conditions. He is also the textbook body type for both diseases so he was high on the list for risk factors.
In addition to being a textbook physical case of heart disease, does Ron suffer from what Dr. Pearsall suggests? Is Ron ‘abusing’ his heart with messages from his brain? Well…to be fair, I think we all do a lot of heart bruising, bashing and abusing with the messages we give ourselves.
Candace Pert who sadly died in 2013 (Molecules of Emotion) wrote how our thoughts can actually create neuropeptides in the brain that flood our systems and affect our bodies at a cellular level. Another way of saying that is that our thinking affects our feelings, which in turn affect the health of our bodies. For some of us, it may not have occurred to us that we have self-talk going on all the time and often the self-talk is destructive.
For example “I’m so fat…look at this fat.” “What’s wrong with me? Why am I always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time?” “That was stupid!” “How could I be so stupid?” or driving in traffic “How could they be so stupid!”
Our blood pressure goes up, we say bad words and the anger escalates and those little neuropeptides are flooding our bodies at a cellular level with all kinds of chemical reactions that can become quite tiring and exhausting to our adrenals and other organ systems in the body. Like toxic food and drink, the negative thoughts that we create need to be eliminated; the body heroically tries to maintain homeostasis no matter what thoughts or what food we put into this delicate internal eco system. That’s just an example of a heated emotion like anger.
What happens when we bombard our bodies with sad thoughts or thoughts that others have done us wrong? “I feel so hurt by him/her.” “He doesn’t listen.” “Why cant’ he/she/they be more considerate?” How do these thoughts affect our bodies? What neuropeptides are created? Where do the neuropeptides go? How does our body deal with these physical changes caused by thinking thoughts? How do I change my thoughts?
The first step seems to be to become aware that there is self-talk going on all the time. We’re just so used to hearing it all the time that we are unaware that
- it is there and
- it can be observed and
- usually, as soon as we begin to observe it, it becomes quieter!
“The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years.
“When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.
Now to do this kind of observing requires that a person slow down long enough to listen! It’s easy for the mind to begin again; I have to get this done, that done, who has time to sit and listen to these crazy thoughts anyway, I have a deadline to meet, my parents are expecting me to do this or that or whatever and it goes on and on and on. You can fill in your own blanks!
And what happens when we do not take the time to stop and listen to this self-talk? Our bodies do an amazing job for a very long time and then everything seems to start falling apart! Eventually, we do stop but often because we are forced to as the body’s vitality expresses the symptoms of a system running amok. We get depressed, we are diagnosed with a disease or our immune systems begin to fail us. Dr. Gabor Mate’s title of his book, When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress, talks about this as well.
Wisdom of the Heart
For Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy, the brain’s self-talk, if not observed, is so determined in its course of self-preservation that ironically, it can eventually self-destruct by the demands that it puts on the body!
“In its potentially lethal covenant with its body, the brain never shuts up. It is designed to constantly be on some level of alert. It is in a state of perpetual readiness to react, defend, or attack when it or its body senses threats-real or not-to its self-enhancement. The brain/body covenant is one designed primarily for staying alive, seeking stimulation, doing, and getting. In effect, the brain “drags” your body with it to do its bidding, hauling you and your heart along on its rough ride, whether or not you are sure “in your heart” that you want to go where it is taking you.”
What Dr. Pearsall’s book is all about is an exploration of the wisdom of the heart, its connection to cellular memory and the possibility that the heart may be the entryway to understanding the soul. The way to access the wisdom of the heart, is to slow down.
“Armed Crustaceans Eternally on the Alert”
“While our brain’s urgent defensiveness often causes us to behave as what poet William Blake refers to as “armed crustaceans eternally on the alert”, the gentle, steady beating of our heart soothes us, makes us feel loving and loved, and assures us and those who love us that our soul is still here as expressed in the spiritual energy resonating through our heart. The silenced heart is our greatest dread for ourselves and those we love, and regardless of legalistic definitions, death is ultimately the loss of the rhythm of the heart. Whenever I become too busy, too impatient, and too cynical in my daily living, I stop and remember to listen and feel for my heart. I attend to it before it has to demand my attention by gripping me by my chest.” The Heart’s Code by Dr. Pearsall
The book is full of amazing stories about people’s experiences with their hearts, their own and for those who have received a transplant, experiences with the donor’s heart. I’m sure that you may even have some of your own. I hope you share them with others because in sharing and speaking from the heart, we become connected to one another in a way that transcends words and conversations.
“When the receiving heart becomes a sending heart, the energy it sends is no longer just its own. It blends its energy with the memory of the vibrations of the energy it has received. This resonating process continues infinitely, meaning that with every beat of our heart, we continue to create the info-energetic vibrations that become our collective soul.” The Heart’s Code
Today, I would like to leave you simply with the idea that you can begin to listen with compassion and loving-kindness to your thoughts, the self-talk that goes on inside your brain and in doing that, slow down long enough to hear the gentle beat of your heart.
“When we silence our brain, quiet our body, and become still enough to feel the beat of our heart, we may be able to remember more profoundly the thrill of being alive.” Paul Pearsall
Yours in health, healing and the thrill of our hearts beating,