Mystics, philosophers and those who practise holistic disciplines view the heart as a source of great intuition and wisdom: heart intelligence.
We’ve all heard the sayings, ‘the heart wants what it wants’, ‘at the heart of the matter’ and ‘take it to heart’. The heart has always been more than just an organ that keeps us alive because it’s entrenched in our emotional being.
Heart intelligence (also known as HQ or Heart IQ) is the higher level of awareness you experience when you can integrate your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual intelligence. When it’s fully embodied and integrated, heart intelligence gives you the ability to be fully real, present, connected and heart-directed, in every aspect of your life. This leads to all sorts of benefits: increased vitality, decreased stress, deeper relationships, and greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making.
Understanding heart wisdom
The yogic tradition refers to the spiritual heart as Hridaya, or pure consciousness, a great inner guide that reveals the ultimate truth. Many believe that awakening the heart’s intelligence is a process of discovery. During the practice, it becomes a series of shifts that rewire the entire mind-body operating system, with the potential for awakening, freedom, and liberation from suffering, limiting thoughts, stories and beliefs.
It’s been scientifically proven that the heart has more than 40 000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember, and that it’s constantly in communication with the brain. When you intentionally savour positive emotions, such as caring, compassion and appreciation, the heart processes these experiences, and its rhythm becomes smoother and more harmonious, which is known as ‘heart coherence’ – a state in which your heart and brain are energetically aligned. Achieving this increases your capacity to feel positive emotions, such as love, joy and gratitude.
Heart coherence enables you to transcend stressful circumstances, experience a deeper sense of wellbeing and improve your mental functions and physical performance. In essence, your entire being comes into balance. Your mind is clear, creative and focused throughout your day, and you feel centred, grounded and able to manifest your highest intentions, even in difficult situations.
The thing about your heart’s intelligence is that it’s always with you. It’s important to acknowledge this because it means that the wisdom of your heart – the answers to the deepest and most mysterious questions about life that no one else can answer – already exist within you. Rather than being something that needs to be created before it can be used, the link between your heart and the place that holds your answers is already established. You just need to choose to access it.
Steps to achieving heart:
The heart as an object of meditation
Use your heart as an anchor for your mind’s attention. Pause and make a conscious shift out of your thoughts and into your heart. Place your hand on your heart as a gesture of care and connection. Rest at your heart’s centre with curiosity and interest – simply sit and listen, without an agenda or expectations. This is a good way to practise being intimate with your own heart in an effortless way.
Shift your focus into the area of your heart, and begin to breathe a little more slowly than usual, as if your breath is coming from your heart. Imagine and feel things that bring you pleasure, appreciation and joy. Breathe in these positive emotions and breathe out negativity and suffering. This step is a powerful technique unto itself and can be used when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the day’s events or simply desire to be more connected with yourself. As you slow your breathing, you’re sending a signal to your body, in general, and your heart, specifically, that you’re in a safe place and that it’s okay to turn your attention inward.
Activate a positive feeling
Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling, such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. The key to this step is to first create the feeling, to the best of your ability, and then to embrace the feeling, again to the best of your ability. Your ability to sustain it is what maintains the optimal conversation between your heart and brain.