There is nowhere to begin but at the center—your heart. It is a miraculous organ and the subject of my fascination. Is it really a pump in the way we were taught? What is it’s function? Does it have an intelligent voice and harbor memories? What kind of relationship do I have with my heart? I have been asking myself these questions and researching some science that may illuminate interesting answers. If you seek an intimacy with yourself and desire a long healthy life full of vibrance, the heart is your golden key to unlocking hidden treasures.
Rudolph Steiner, a German philosopher, visionary and the 'father' of anthroposophy, biodynamics and Waldorf education, was ahead of his time in many ways. One of his most prophetic claims was that the heart is not a pump. I was taught that the heart is a muscle that forces all of our blood through the circulatory system, acting like a pump that pushes blood via muscular squeeze & release. At the time of Steiner’s proclamation, there was little science to support his statement and it seemed mostly overlooked. In 2016, Dr. Thomas Cowan (a cardiologist) wrote Human Heart, Cosmic Heart where he begins to unpack this controversial theory and reveal how the heart actually functions. To summarize, it is physically impossible that the heart could do the task of pumping blood through the miles of vessels and capillaries that we embody. Imagine trying to pump honey through a water hose for miles—uphill—it would take a machine much larger than your fist-sized heart. The structure of the heart also shows that it is not designed to pump all alone. At the apex (or bottom) of the heart, it is only one layer of muscle making it quite thin compared to the other areas. In the pump model, this would be the area of the heart that receives the most pressure, being directly opposite the aortic valve. The base of the heart would need much more reinforcement to function for a human lifetime.
Steiner suggests and the anatomy supports, that the heart is more of a hydraulic ram. A hydraulic ram, usually placed in running water, works when pressure and volume build up on the incoming side of a gate, creating a vacuum or negative pressure on the far side of the gate—the gate will open and the fluid propelled up hill! Steiner and Cowan explain how the heart works similarly, acting via pressure and vacuum, regulating the blood flow and transforming it from laminar flow to a vortex. This ram-pump model depends on a hydrophilic tube system of positive/negative charged blood that engages your vessels and capillaries to participate in the movement of your blood too. This means that your entire circulatory system is wholy active in the movement of blood through your body, not just the heart muscles.
Now to illuminate heart-brain communication, an honest intelligence that is readily available to everyone. In 1991, Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the term “heart brain” after establishing that the heart has a complex network of 40,000 neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells that can act independently of the cranial brain. Your heart holds both short- and long-term memories separate from your brain. There are astounding stories of heart transplant recipients who experience memories, dreams and even cravings that can only be explained after learning about the person from whom the heart came. Understanding and developing a relationship with your heart can open you to greater personal insight, better decision making skills and even higher immune function.
According to research from the Heart Math Institute, your heart’s rhythms can have an effect on brain function, its ability to make good decisions and create positive emotions. The heart emits the strongest electro magnetic field in the body and can be measured several feet away from the body. Have you been near someone who is angry or sad? What did it feel like? How about a person who is powerfully charismatic or has a ‘magnetic personality’ that you just want to be around? When you are aware of your emotional state you can make changes that positively affect your entire being, from a chaotic nervous system and erratic brain function to a coherent state of ease where the body is able to process information efficiently. By consciously choosing to notice your feelings, you can then decide to make a shift towards positive feelings—you have the power to change your experience and heart awareness helps. Others around you will feel (whether conscious or sub-conscious) what you are emitting and enjoy your presence or possibly make subtle shifts of their own.
Lesser known than the heart is the pericardium. The pericardium is a sheath of connective tissue that surrounds your heart. In Chinese medicine it is called the 'heart protector'. Rudolph Steiner referenced it as a metaphorical box that surrounds the heart organ, which he envisioned as a seven sided geometric figure. In the mid-nineties, Frank Chester, a modern-day artist, sculptor and visionary discovered the three dimensional shape, known as the Chestahedron. It is a seven sided form with equal area on all sides, despite the two different shapes (four equilateral triangles and three kite shaped diamonds). It has some very unique properties that correlate directly with the functions of the heart, including the way that it behaves in a fluid environment and that it fits inside a cube at 36 degrees—the exact angle of the heart within the chest. Imagine your inner chest contains a cube-shaped treasure chest and the bio-luminescent heart jewel rests within.
The heart jewel, multi-faceted and resplendent! Have you ever seen rainbows cast by a prism or sun catcher? When the sun shines onto the facets, it sprays rainbows across the room or glints in the corner of your vision as you pass by. When the pericardium is relaxed, it is like a transparent box that allows the light to penetrate and refract through the heart prism. Bringing awareness to positive emotional states clears the 'clouds’ of thought in your mind, revealing the ‘sun’ and internal clarity. The literal sun is a force of Nature, it has no judgement and no opinion. If you have spent a lifetime ignoring it or shielding yourself from its light, it will not abandon you nor withhold its warmth and light for spite. The sun shines on everyone the same; it is there no matter how you have loved or despised its radiance. Your consciousness is like the sun, when you invite it into your heart it will brighten the inner space—no questions asked, no justification necessary.
When you make a conscious choice to feel your heart and invoke positive emotional states, it purifies your perception and allows the light of awareness to illuminate your darkest diseases and vaporize pathology. Ancient yogis describe a shroud, veil or cloak that masks the heart and colors our perception in certain ways, mostly on the subconscious level based on events of the past. Practices like yoga, qigong/tai chi, walking in Nature, meditation and bringing awareness into the present moment, can help to lift the veils and polish the facets so that perception is clear and the voice of the heart can be heard. In this state, you can ask questions of the heart—it will always answer. Some describe the voice of their heart as an immediate ‘knowing’, a few short words or feeling of expansive opening in the chest.
Try it! Take at least a minute or two (maybe more) to breathe with awareness in your chest, dropping into the present experience. Notice what you feel and invite a sense of ease all around the heart—like the box of the pericardium becomes spacious and transparent. Once you feel a soft presence within yourself, try asking a question…first ask one that you know is true and feel the 'yes'. Then ask one that you know is false and feel the 'no'. It may be very subtle in the beginning but with practice you can strengthen this form of communication with yourself and be certain of a 'yes' or 'no' answer almost immediately. If possible, try this with a partner too. Have them ask a question that you both know is true like, "I'm in North Carolina (or current location)." Then something you know is false, "Today is Thanksgiving," for example. Establishing a sense of your heart's intelligence might help to develop trust in yourself and your ability to make decisions that enhance your experience of life.
May this inspire curiosity and a desire to know yourself. Dive in to your personal depths, find the treasure chest within, use the golden key of awareness to open it and marvel at the sparkling gem of your heart. It is your closest ally and craves an intimate relationship with you. Let it sparkle and shine, inspiring others to do the same. Be the rainbow! 🌈
~ A. Welder
Rudolph Steiner's Archive ~ www.rsarchive.org
Frank Chester ~ www.frankchester.com
Human Heart, Cosmic Heart by Thomas Cowan ~ www.humanheartcosmicheart.com, www.fourfoldhealing.com
Heart Math Institute ~ www.heartmath.org
Gregg Braden ~ Podcast on Hay House Live, www.greggbraden.com