I’ve always had a fascination with the human heartbeat. I could rest my head on a person’s chest and listen for minutes at a time. Perhaps this is because in the womb, I heard it 24/7, but I like to think it’s more than that. I’ve always felt that the heart carried some sort of human information, something more profound than the pumping of blood into arteries to be oxygenated in the lungs.
A few months ago, I watched the documentary “I Am” per my mother’s request (as long as I am under her roof, I have to indulge her on occasion). I was skeptical at first, but the documentary honestly changed where I want to take my life. [This post isn’t about the documentary, but if you want to watch it, I highly encourage it. It’s on Netflix]. One particular part of the movie was most fascinating to me: the research done at HeartMath Institute.
All of my tender feelings towards the human heart were confirmed, and augmented beyond any of my dreams. I may be a nerd, but the information gleaned by HeartMath (and confirmed by other sources) is universally shocking, at least in my opinion.
At HeartMath, scientists discovered electromagnetic frequency radiating from the human heart as it beats. Turns out, this frequency is registered in the brains of people within about 8 feet of the heart. That’s right: somewhere deep down in your mass of brain tissue, you can hear and process the heartbeats of the people around you.
This alone isn’t all that exciting, because who cares if I can hear someone’s heartbeat? It’s just a two-beat, S1 and S2 pattern, right? Wrong. The human heartbeat is not a constant, two-beat pattern that we typically believe it to be, that increases in frequency with exercise and adrenaline. In reality, within each heartbeat and the space in between beats, the heart emits erratic and changing vibrations, like mini-beats. And these beats change based on emotion. Feelings of love produce a different number of frequencies than feelings of anger. The heart feels, not just the brain.
What’s more the heart does not only receive messages from the brain. It sends messages to the brain itself, not only about its functioning as a muscle, but about a person’s overall health and well-being. The heart contains 40,000 of its own neurons, in a miniature neural network that functions as a heart-brain. These neurons send messages to the brain to be processed about a number of psychological and physical things, even more than the brain sends messages to the heart. It’s a mutual system, not a one-way from brain to heart. Perhaps all of the religious writings about the heart being the center of human life and feeling is not so far off after all.
So, based on the aforementioned three facts, it is obvious that the heartbeat is an amazing thing: it lets us know how others are feeling. We can pick up the electromagnetic waves of other’s hearts, and depending upon their emotional state, these wavelengths change. My brain can feel your emotion through the beating of your heart if I am standing close to you. That’s human empathy, pure and simple. We can literally feel the emotions of others.
And yet, our world is still full of skeptics who believe we aren’t connected to each other at all. That we are all idiosyncratic entities functioning side by side as pieces of a machine. Maybe they consider it realism, but I cannot live like that. I have to believe, based on both science and religion, that there is more to the human condition than separate bodies operating in separate societies. We feel each other, through sounds and through our hearts; and it this isn’t enough to convince people that maybe we are empathetic and connected creatures after all, I don’t know what will.
And even if they can’t be convinced of connection, at least they should know: the human heartbeat does a whole lot more than pump blood.