Kentucky voices: Recipe for success: Follow our hearts, not our brains

January 4, 2013 

Our nation prides itself on intellectual achievements. We seek rational solutions. We live in an information age where knowledge is king.

Yet we are not solving drug addiction, violence or war. After a record 11 years, war is routine. Mass gun murders occur monthly. One-third of us take anti-depressants. We have the biggest gap between rich and poor, and the smallest middle class, in three-quarters of a century.

In a country that prided itself on education, debt increasingly precludes college and our international ranking is at new depths. Chronic disorders including autoimmune, intestinal, brain disorders at all ages, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and diabetes are growing rapidly. Is this where intellectualization leads?

We glamorize the brain and its abilities. The future, we insist, will be the result of technology, the product of a vast brain trust. But is that a future we want? Will that bring more social ineptness and alienation, more mass murders, more routine war?

Sage Mohammed Nasser says we must "speak from our heart, not our brain." Can the heart be the next plane of evolution? The electromagnetic field created by the heart extends 15 feet, and is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain. The heart is mostly nerve tissue; it has a deep memory and a consciousness.

Deep inside, we know the heart's worth. We have watched Ebenezer Scrooge, and vowed that would never be us. We know baby monkeys given nourishment, languish and die without a mother's love. Alienation and loneliness shorten longevity.

Male Harvard medical students were once asked about relationships with parents; 35 years later, of those reporting a warm, fuzzy relationship, 47 percent had a chronic disorder; ones with a cool, distant relationship 100 percent of the time had chronic illness.

A pocket of remarkable longevity was discovered in the rural Pennsylvania town of Rosetta. What was their secret? They emigrated as a group from Italy. Neighbors were very close and families stayed nearby, supporting each other for four generations. They have now gone their own ways and, with it, their longevity.

Can we solve the world's problems with brains? Genetically modified foods are a brain success, but a heart failure. Computers and iPhones for school children are a brain success, but marriage is at an all-time low. Antidepressants are a pharmaceutical marketing genius, but a heart and societal failure.

We individually can choose to live at a new level — the heart level. It is happier. It is one of strong personal bonds, of business decisions based on benefit for others, where families foster not gadget-superiority and wealth, but strong relationships.

It begins with interactions. Before saying the first word, take a deep belly breath. Consciously switch from brain to heart. The heart connection is literally thousands of times more powerful. Attempts to attain happiness, meaningful relationships, and world peace with intellectual solutions have failed. What may be unfathomable to the brain, though, is achievable by the heart.

Love is the only rational level at which to live. It transcends space and time.

And it begins with that deep belly breath, gentle switch to the heart and immediate connection to others. Enduring solutions ensue — to relationships, to community, to violence, alienation and bankrupt lives, and ultimately to peace, prosperity and good will for all.

Dr. Jim Roach practices at the Midway Center for Integrative Medicine.

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