Monthly Archives: December 2018

How to Start Thinking With the Heart

By Johanna Bassols

Tap into the Innate Intelligence of the Heart

 

 

For far too long, but particularly in the modern, Western world we have thought of the heart as simply a pumping mechanism responsible for bringing blood to our organs.

The heart’s physical importance is not to be underestimated, it supports life, sending the blood of life to the tree-like limbs of our vascular system–but this is an overly simplistic view of what the heart is capable of.

Gregg Braden’s latest research elaborates on the ancient technique of using the heart as an intelligent organ.

The heart’s intelligence has been ignored for far too long. What we’ve learned about the heart’s wisdom, however, in the past several years through the Heart Math Institute and through the research of psychologists, neurobiologists, and resurfaced wisdom teachings from our ancient past, should inspire everyone to look at the heart in a completely new way.

For those who are not used to using their innate intelligence–that is their intuition—tuning into the heart for answers to the most profound and difficult questions they could possibly drum up might seem ridiculous. Why ask the heart whether to stay in a relationship that is challenging, or even if you should go through with a medical procedure?

It might seem ignorant or even haphazard to ask the heart questions like these, but it has wisdom that the intellect cannot match. Here’s why:

The heart does not send information through an egoic filter.

The heart knows your past, your present, and your future. Its intelligence does not care about your egoic constructs. The heart simply speaks from a completely neutral place.

Follow your heart

What lessons will you learn if you follow your heart?

You can think of it like a close friend who has your best interest at heart, and who does not care about making themselves look good in your eyes.

Hridaya

There is an ancient term that does not have a direct English translation that describes this intelligence of the heart. Hridaya, is the energy which is contained within the heart chakra. This is not just the physical heart, but the spiritual heart. It contains the intelligence of God, or the transcendental mind.

The word comes from the Sanskrit language, and the closest meaning to English would be something like this:

Hrid = center

Ayam = this

Thus, the spiritual heart always brings you to your center. It will not veer away from your highest self, always taking in a 360-degree (and beyond) view of any situation you could possibly face.

The yogi Bhagavan wrote once to explain this spiritual heart in more detail:

Just as there is a cosmic center from which the whole universe arises and has its being and functions with the power or the directing energy emanating therefrom, so also is there a center within the frame of the physical body wherein we have our being. This center in the human body is in no way different from the cosmic center. It is this center in us that is called the Hridaya, the seat of Pure Consciousness, realized as Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. This is really what we call the seat of God in us.

Conversely the mind-brain thinks of our past experiences, our past erroneous beliefs assigned to those experiences, and takes all sorts of twists and turns through a conceptual landscape that we’ve created to give us a ‘right’ answer to life’s deep questions.

Mind or heart
The mind-brain creates false perceptions where the heart is true.

 

A Zen Buddhist can also describe what happens when we think with the head (brain) instead of the heart.

We place a fog–a type of perceptual overlay on top of a situation and then add an emotional investment. We call this ‘real,’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yet, we think we have to obtain a siddhi (great accomplishment or miracle) in order to obtain supernormal wisdom or intelligence. So, we go on trusting the false perceptions of the mind-brain.

The Neurobiology of the Heart

Moreover, if we were to look at the simple neurobiology of the heart–there are many more fibers leading from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. This means–as Gregg Braden recently pointed out in a Gaia talk–that there is much more communication being sent to the brain then being received from it.

As the HeartMath Institute explains, the heart also begins beating in the unborn fetus before the brain has even been formed, a process scientists call autorhythmic.

We humans also form an emotional brain long before a rational one, and the heart has its own independent complex nervous system known as ‘the brain in the heart.’

The heart can also create a level of coherence in the body just through its rhythm, which regulates all its systems, and corrects even diseased cells.

And finally, the electromagnetic field of the heart is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain, and permeates every cell in the body. The magnetic component is approximately 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body with sensitive magnetometers.

The heart is full of wisdom
Tapping into the heart’s intelligence will give you wisdom.

How to Think with the Heart’s Wisdom

Here’s what Braden suggests to help us learn to tap into the heart’s massive wisdom:

  1. Focus on the heart (and heart chakra). This sends a signal to the heart that you seek its intelligence.
  2. Slow your breathing. This sends another signal to your body that you seek higher intelligence, and not that of the normally stressed, and freaked out ego. Deep breathing calms the nervous system and quiets the brain.
  3. Conjure a sense of gratitude, compassion, or love. These are the feelings which trigger an activation of the heart’s energy.
  4. Ask your heart a question. The question should be brief and to the point.
  5. Everyone will experience the heart’s intelligence a bit differently. You may feel butterflies in your gut, a warm sensation growing around your body, or tingling in your fingertips. You may not feel any bodily sensations, but have a clear, short answer that comes through your mind. Know that it likely won’t need a long-drawn-out story to ‘justify’ its wisdom. The heart speaks directly and clearly. If it isn’t, try this process again to let your body know that you seek the intelligence of the heart and not the ego.
  6. Practice makes perfect. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to tap into the seat of pure consciousness–the hridaya.

Johanna Bassols is the creator of the Soul Reprogramming Method and founder of the Healers of the Light Academy.

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The fat-burning heart-rate zone myth: How exercise & weight loss really work.

If you’re the kind of exerciser who constantly checks your heart rate to ensure you’re in the fat-burning zone, you should stop. You’ll probably never meet your weight-loss goals that way. That’s because there’s no special fat-burning zone that’s key to getting lean. Here’s what you need to know about the myth and about the true relationship between exercise and weight loss.

A burning question

Yes, we know. If you look at the wall charts or cardio equipment in a gym, or listen to many personal trainers, you’ll be indoctrinated about the “fat-burning zone.” The standard advice for getting in this zone is to workout at about 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. That level of exertion is relatively low intensity; most people can talk in complete sentences while exercising at it. Working in this zone, it’s said, will burn more fat and result in greater long-term weight loss, compared with doing the same exercise at higher intensities.

There’s substance to part of this claim. Your body primarily fuels itself by burning a mix of stored fat and carbohydrates. The less active you are at a given moment, the greater the percentage of that fuel mix comes from fat. As your intensity of activity increases, the percentage of carbohydrates in that fuel mix also increases. At rest, fat constitutes as much as 85 percent of calories burned. That figure shifts to about 70 percent at an easy walking pace. If you transition to a moderate-effort run, the mix becomes about 50 percent fat and 50 percent carbohydrates, and it moves increasingly toward carbohydrates the faster you go.

So, it’s true that at some workout intensities, you’re burning a higher percentage of fat than at other intensities. But that doesn’t mean this biological process is the key to losing weight from exercise. Experts explain that those who believe in a lard-melting zone simply aren’t seeing the forest — i.e., what it really takes to lose weight — for the fat-burning trees. They’re forgetting about calories.

Get out of the zone

First, although it might sound better for weight loss to burn a higher percentage of fat, the real-world effect of that intensity on your body composition is next to nil. “The idea that all of a sudden when you hit this zone the fat is just being sucked out of your system is simplistic,” says Christopher Breen, an exercise physiologist and online coach in Long Island. “That completely ignores that losing or maintaining weight is basically a matter of calories in versus calories out.”

If the key determinant of weight loss were the percentage of fat you’re burning, then your best bet would be to remain still, because that’s when you’re burning the highest percentage of fat relative to carbohydrates. But, as Breen says, total calories burned is what matters, and that fact leads to the second big problem with the fat-burning zone.

“If you’re exercising at this lower intensity, you’re burning fewer calories per minute,” says Christine Brooks, a University of Florida adjunct instructor and the coaching science coordinator for USA Track & Field. “The average person walking for an hour is going to burn only a couple hundred calories.” In that time, you could burn more than twice as many calories running, cycling or using an elliptical machine at a moderate intensity.

Let’s be real: When you schedule a workout, you probably think in terms of time, not number of calories burned. So, in the likely scenario that you have 30 or 45 minutes for exercise before or after work, you’re just not going to burn that many calories if you spend that time in the would-be fat-burning zone. “I’m all for people being more active, but most aren’t going to regularly put in the time at a lower intensity to create a calorie deficit,” Brooks says.

Also, if you want to get all geeky, the math argues against the fat-burning zone. Walk two miles in an hour, and you’ll burn about 200 calories, with roughly 140 of them fueled by fat. Cycle moderately for that time, and you’ll burn about 500 calories, with about 250 of them fueled by fat — so you’ll burn more calories and more fat. “When I worked with people in a gym, I would tell them, ‘Ultimately, it’s a matter of calories; the fat burn will take care of itself,’ ” Breen says.

Another chit for more vigorous workouts: You get an after-burn effect. “You maintain a higher metabolic rate after higher ­intensity exercise,” Brooks says. “The reason is that more damage is being done to various systems, so you have an increased heart rate while the body is making its necessary repairs.”

Get the balance right

“I have a real beef with the way this fat-burning idea is promoted,” Brooks says. “It’s a very strange way to talk about exercise.” She and Breen agree that the myth persists because it’s an easy concept to grasp. “It’s a way of making exercise machines more appealing — if I’m working at this speed, I’ll burn more fat than at another speed,” Breen says.

None of this is to suggest low-intensity exercise is a waste of time. Even the top athletes in the world regularly and purposefully work out at a light effort. A gentle jog or easy spin is a great way to clear your head, get reenergized, improve your health, spend time with friends and family, and, yes, burn some calories.

“Mix it up,” Breen says about structuring your workouts. “Have some harder, high-intensity days, followed by easier, low-intensity recovery days.” Also aim for different durations. When you have the time, do longer workouts at a comfortable level of effort. When you’re pressed for time, work a little harder. The table in our guide to heart-rate training will help you construct a well-rounded exercise program.

Variety in your workouts will keep you fresher physically and mentally than if you do the same thing day after day after day. That freshness will make it more likely that you exercise consistently. And that’s the zone that will result in long-term weight loss.

Scott Douglas is a contributing writer for Runner’s World and the author of several books, including “Running Is My Therapy .” Follow him on Twitter: @mescottdouglas .