by Dr. Brad Nelson
Everyone knows that the human heart is essentially a muscle. More than any other organ, it is responsible for keeping our bodies alive from one moment to the next. If your heart stops beating, well, that is pretty much the end of you, unless drastic action is taken, and right away. I think we can all agree on this.
The heart is an icon of love, as well. Just think of those little valentine candies, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, cupid’s hearts, and so on. But what does this particular have to do with romantic notions of love?
In ancient times the human heart seemed to be well understood. Long-gone races and peoples thought the heart was ‘the seat of the soul,’ ‘the source of our creativity,’ and ‘the dwelling place of love.’ The Old Testament says that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” and that God “looks not on the outward appearance, but looks on the heart.” If the heart is really no more than a mere pump, then all of these old sayings make no sense at all.
Being modern and proud of it, we have long thought of these ideas as quaint notions, dismissing them as the fantasies of the unenlightened. Surely, if the heart had such fantastical attributes, we would have discovered them by now, with all our modern scientific technology.
Well, perhaps you had better sit down. Because new discoveries about the heart are quite stunning, and are showing us that the ancient ones were more correct in their beliefs about the heart than we ever imagined.
It all started on the third of December, 1967. That was the day that Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant. Many thousands more have been done since then. But sometimes these heart transplant recipients report some strange happenings. Sometimes these people not only come out of surgery with a new heart, but with cravings and preferences that are not their own. In fact, they sometimes inherit memories of places they have never visited before, and sometimes they even ‘know’ people they have never met. In every case, these places and people were known to, and these cravings and affinities belonged to the heart-donor.
This is not an unusual or isolated phenomenon, and most people have heard of this sort of thing happening. For example, a friend of our family got a heart transplant. After he recovered, he had a powerful new craving for hazelnut lattes and ice cream, formerly cravings that belonged to the deceased woman, whose heart was now beating in his chest.
A 25-year-old man had a heart transplant and, to the delight of his wife, inherited from the donor (a woman) a consistent and driving urge to shop. I suppose that, in this case, his wife may have finally gotten the shopping partner she had always wanted!
An attorney from Milwaukee received the heart of a 14-year-old boy and inherited an overpowering urge to feast on Snickers bars.
A seven-year-old girl received the heart of an unfortunate young girl who had been murdered. After the transplant, her sleep was constantly interrupted with terrifying nightmares that she was being murdered herself. Eventually, her parents took her to the police, and her descriptions of the dream killer and his murder weapon eventually lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer.
Is there an explanation for stories like these? Is there more going on with the heart than we had supposed?
The heart is easily the most powerful organ in the body, at least magnetically. Using a relatively new instrument called the Magnetocardiagram, or MCG, scientists have found that the magnetic field of the heart extends out up to twelve in diameter around an individual.
Studies have also shown that, if you are feeling love or affection for another person, your heartbeat will appear in that other person’s magnetic brain waves.
Think about this for a moment.
Aside from the things we say, and apart from our body language, is this another, deeper way that we communicate with each other?
Recent discoveries have revealed that the heart exerts a profound influence over the brain. In fact, the heart itself seems to be another, separate “brain.” Studies show that the heart actually receives intuitive information from the world around it before the brain does, and that the heart is constantly communicating with the cells of the body, via the heartbeat. It appears that the brain in your head actually obeys these messages that are being sent by the heart-brain.
Is the heart really the core of our beings, the seat of our souls, the source of our creativity and the source of our love? I believe the answer is yes. I believe the ancients were right all along, and we are just beginning to discover what they somehow knew way back then.
Remember that the next time you see an image of a heart, that universal symbol of love and connection.