Live from Your Heart Not Just Your Head
A Balance for Optimal Heart Health
February is American Heart Month for good reason: heart disease is the number one cause of death for Americans. Most advice about having a healthy heart includes directives that I bet we can all recite by heart—eat well, be active, quit smoking, manage your weight, and control alcohol intake, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Often there’s one more item at the end of the list: manage stress. That’s because stress is often a driving force that causes people to eat poorly, drink excessively, be overweight, or not exercise.
Living more from your heart and less from your head positively affects more than the health of your heart. To live from the heart means following what makes you feel energized, balanced, rejuvenated, and healthy. It means surrounding ourselves with people who nourish our souls, build us up, and make us want to be the best we can be.
Feelings have as much to do with the heart as they do with the brain. Our emotions can change the signals the brain sends to the heart, and the heart responds in complex ways. Ignoring our emotions can impact our physical health, increase negative social interactions, and slow intellectual growth.
You may first connect with an idea with your heart, and only then try to understand it with your brain. You may feel your way through an experience and call on your thoughts for support. You can be living from the heart and not even realize it. And you can be living from the heart and be deeply aware of the beauty of it.
Living from the heart means perceiving life differently; it means operating more from a feeling state. The heart sees how everyone and everything is connected, not how we are all different. The heart—in this way of living—is not only the organ that pumps continuously to keep us alive, but is also our connection to our soul and our authentic selves. By tapping into our heart intelligence, we can go beyond the limits of the mind and connect with a deeper aspect of ourselves.
I’ve been living from my heart for a long time. I resonate with what feels good. I listen to my intuition, not necessarily what is an accepted path.
For decades, I divided my time between my profession—I was a mid-level public relations manager—and my avocation—teaching fitness in my spare time. But the combo became too stressful for me. Something had to change.
When I visualized my life without my fitness practice, I felt empty and unfulfilled. When I visualized my life without my office position, I felt free. My decision was clear—until I talked about it with others.
Just about everyone told me how unwise it would be to give up a well-paying position and all the benefits that went with it for a path that was financially insecure and uncertain. My heart was telling me otherwise. When I checked in with my brain, I didn’t discount the advice but I knew my instinct was correct. If my plan didn’t work out I could always get another job. I followed my heart, started my own business, and never regretted it for one minute.
Nil Demircubuk, who is an intuition teacher and life coach who has a background in engineering, said there is much research around living from the heart. “Your intuition is like a nudge. It tells you to go this way or that way. Sometimes you may interpret it wrong but you can always check with your logic or your brain. It is like a crazy search engine that taps into all information in your subconscious without overwhelming you.”
Living from your heart does not mean that you sit in lotus position, chanting. You can be excited, calm, or even concerned—but are centered at the same time. If we are open to it, we may solve problems quicker, drive a car more efficiently, and get along with more people unlike us. If you live from your heart, daily activities and creativity become easier.
Living from your heart, like anything else, takes practice. A simple deep breath before speaking or acting is a good place to start. Focus on small things. Open up to possibilities—let life change you. Rather than shooing away mental chatter and accompanying feelings, allow them to sit with you. Move your body. Physical movement will make you more aware of how you feel both physically and emotionally—which is where you want to start living from. Stop doing what you think you should do and start doing what feels good to do.
You may change your mind 1,000 times a day, yet your heart remains the same. Live life from your heart space where you can feel more deeply and appreciate the little everyday joys. As you become more aware of your heart’s intentions, you may find you can change your life and your health. ▼
Pattie Cinelli is a journalist and fitness professional who focuses on leading-edge-of-thought ways to stay healthy and get well. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.