Updated: Sep 26, 2022
The theme this month inside the Peace Project is Peace With Body, which means we've been taking the time to love and appreciate our bodies exactly as they are.
An exploration into this topic cannot go without exploring the body's many messages to us and the ways it tries to communicate.
Today I want to explore that theme with one organ in mind - the heart.
Our hearts are wonderful organs! Made of muscle and about the size of your fist, our hearts beat around 100,000 times a day, pumping about five litres of blood around our body.
Research also shows that our hearts also have their own intrinsic cardiac nervous system. This means our heart has it's own brain, composed of approximately 40,000 neurons that operate in a similar way as our head brain does.
The heart brain communicates with our bodies in many ways: neurologically via the nervous system, biochemically via enzymes, proteins and peptides, biophysically through heart rate and sensations and energetically through its powerful electromagnetic field.
This wonderfully complex system is remarkable and definitely one to be listened to!
Alongside enabling us to physically live, our hearts are the contribute to our lives by providing us purpose and meaning.
This is done through desire.
It is our hearts job to communicate what we desire so that we move towards it. This desire can be anything, peace, a romantic partner, a particular career or ice cream - it really does have a mind of it's own!
The trouble is, many of us live in a culture where we have not been taught to put our heart's desires first. We have been conditioned that to do so is selfish and that to be selfish is a bad thing.
I beg to differ.
I don't think it's a coincidence for a moment that globally one in fourteen people is living with heart disease, and that women are more affected than men (290 million women versus 260 million men).
I believe this is because the consequences of not listening and acting on the messages from your heart literally breaks it, and it is unable to function as it is intended.
We all know if we misuse an item and do something it wasn't designed to do it will either break or not work very well - well hello! The same is true for that amazing and incredible heart of yours.
Our hearts deserve our attention and it's wisdom deserves our respect
This means listening to our hearts, making its desires first and foremost in our decision making process. It also means respectfully listening to other people's hearts and honouring and respecting their desires too.
A simple way to do this for yourself is to ask yourself "What does my heart desire?"
Personally I make sure I do a heart check-in every day, sometimes multiple times a day if I find myself in a place of wondering what I want to do.
Another enquiry we can make is "What question is on my heart today?" This one can ellict a deeper meaning and helps to switch things up a bit.
Now here's the rub: you have to listen to the answer!
I'll warn you, this part isn't always easy! There's a reason we have come to habitually block our hearts out, because sometimes we don't like the answer.
Our straight talking hearts might ask us to change the way we live, confront a behaviour in someone that we don't want to address, break up a relationship, give up our negative self-chatter.
But heck, if it was easy everyone would be doing it and they're not - so kudos to you for even considering it.
It is my experience that the most "successful" people in my eyes are heart-led. They are amazing parents, athletes, business people, activists, teachers and philanthropists. These are people who's lives are governed by love, rather than run ragged by fear. They listen to their hearts and act on their heart's wisdom.
And this is the final step, taking action. This requires us to enact our head brain to problem solve "how" to enact our heart's desires, the heart to provide the courage to make it happen and the gut brain (yep, your gut has its own brain too) to provide the motivation to put our plans into action.
So the process is:
1) Listen to your heart
2) Accept and respect what you hear
3) Work out how to make that desire possible
4) Be courageous enough to take action
5) Motivate yourself to make it happen
On paper, it's all quite simple really. The courageous (cour - Latin for heart) part is breaking away from our norms and survival strategies to do it.
So to have Peace With Body, we must also have Peace With Heart.