Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Heart to Mind Connection


I have often wondered about the fact that the Scriptures use the words "mind" and "heart" interchangeably. Many times I've heard it preached that the mind expresses cognitive thinking and the heart expresses emotional thinking. However, in Hebrews 8:10 we hear God saying:

"I will imprint My laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts."

This verse suggests that the two are synonymous. In fact, the heart seems to perform as the mind regularly throughout Scripture.

I have searched through the Scriptures hoping to find out why and how the two are the same, but have not found an answer. God just says it like it is, (which I love about Him) but I was still left wondering why. Then again, that is the challenge and excitement that is the Word of God! Still, God is good and He wouldn't leave me without an answer to something that important. So I was extremely excited when I found out this bit of information I'm about to share with you, taken from the links listed at the bottom of this post.

The Heart to Mind Connection:

One of the early pioneers in neurocardiology, Dr. J. Andrew Armour, introduced the concept of a functional "heart brain" in 1991. His work revealed that the heart has a complex nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a "Little Brain" in its own right. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain...to learn, remember, and even to feel and sense. There is scientific evidence that the heart sends the brain extensive emotional and intuitive signals. Neurological impulses by the heart's nervous system are sent from the heart to the brain through several afferent (flowing to the brain) pathways. These surge up into the higher centers of the brain where they can influence perception, decision making and other cognitive processes. (These pathways also send pain and other feelings to the brain) The heart is in constant communication with the brain, and scientists are discovering that our hearts may actually be the "intelligent force" behind the intuitive thoughts and feelings we experience.

Now, isn't that amazing!! And God has been saying it as if it were common knowledge all this time! It makes me realize that it doesn't matter what man says in all his earthly wisdom...because the wisdom of men is as foolishness to God. Eventually we find out, that God was right all along. Which to me is a no brainer...but others would argue.

Indulge me, while I go on:

There are at least forty thousand neurons in the heart (nerve cells). That is as many as you find in the various subcortical centers of the brain. These can be likened to a very sophisticated checking machine, which checks for "congruence for interaction" and is actually a small 'voice' that goes up and helps with your decision making. As that information arrives, you make a decision of your will; is this good or is this bad? Am I going to accept or reject this? And you rely on the heart to guide that decision. This cognitive ability of the heart is due to a chemical called ANF which actually controls the thinking process to help you make a good decision!

But get this...

If your mind is chaotic, it completely wipes out that message (the secreted chemicals) from the heart, and your body goes into a state of dis-ease or lack of peace, and you feel it physically!!

WOW. Isn't that what the Bible has said all along? I refer to Philipians 4:6-8 and Ephesians 4:17-32. It's what we think on and allow ourselves to believe that makes or breaks us. When we listen to and follow our heart intelligence, we become more educated, balanced and understanding. It follows that the more balanced and coherent our emotions become, the less likely we will be to experience sickness and disease.

Rather than write any more, I'm going to give you some references you can check out if you're interested:

Dr. Caroline Leaf, brain specialist and author of "Who Switched Off My Brain?" She also has a DVD called "Your Body, His Temple."
Her website is http://www.drleaf.net/osc/
She is on video on YouTube, and also at Life Outreach International (Dec 22,23)

Institute of Heart Math:
http://www.heartmath.org/research/research-science-of-the-heart.html
(this link provides some diagrams as well)

The book "Neurocardiology," edited by Dr. Armour and Dr Jeffrey Ardell.

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he....

Blessings!
Carmen