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  • Writer's pictureJudy Keffer

Whole Heartedly Welcome

The one organ in our bodies that we really should pay more attention to is our heart. There exists more expressions and metaphors about the heart than any other organ in the body. In common parlance the heart is often spoken of as a center of thought, feeling, and personality. Yet we hardly ever consider these as reflecting scientifically valid observations. It turns out these expressions are closer to recent discoveries in cardiac function than anyone in academia previously assumed. Like the digestive tract, but even more so, the heart is connected to the brain by the vagus nerve and the autonomic nervous system. The heart is also part of the body's endocrine system and secretes hormones of its own. Furthermore, it generates a unique electromagnetic field that affects the rest of the body and extends several feet beyond.

The heart sends signals continuously to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing, and vice versa because of this feedback loop. It is not surprising that people who suffer from depression, or schizophrenia, or simply too much stress, have been shown to be at a higher risk to develop heart disease than emotionally healthy individuals. The heart's brain consists of an intricate network of several types of neurons, transmitters, proteins, and immune cells, similar to those found in the enskulled brain. This heart - brain enables the heart to act independently of the cranial brain - to learn, remember, and even feel and sense. Considering the evidence for information/ memory being stored in all the cells in our bodies-the organizing principle of this book- it seems reasonable to assume that the cardiac cells would be no exception to that, and if anything, more likely to carry data of a personal nature. Consequently, it is not a surprising that sensitive transplant patients may manifest personality changes that parallel. The experience is, likes, dislikes, and temperament of the donor. We know that life is built on the interactions of signaling entities: communities, people, organs, cells, bacteria, and even viruses. Whether we are conscious of it or not all the cells in our body - neurons, immune cells, and somatic cells in concert with the tissues of the heart, our genome, the enteric nervous system, and the microbiome form networks that connect to the enskulled brain and form the seedbed of the Embodied Mind. All memories, consciousness, and the mind emerge from this dynamic, linked sentient network.

** This excerpt from Dr. Verney's book Embodied Mind is a beautiful reminder of the importance of our Heart. He touches in on the general understanding that science is now acknowledging what and what the spiritual sages, poets and other artists: sensitive human beings have known long long ago.

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