February: The Month of Love and National Heart Month

What’s the link between love and the heart?

 

Should I follow my heart, or follow my mind?

This question we often hear insinuates that both our heart and mind, well, have minds of their own. Is this true? If not, then why do we feel emotion in our chest and not our mind? Is the chest-ache or tightening when we feel pain or the pitter patter when we feel love a combination of both our mind and heart?

To answer these questions, let’s take a step – or a thousand – back. Let’s get ancient.

In the ancient Egyptian culture, the heart was thought to be the center of thoughts and emotions. That actually makes sense, since the heart is at the center of our bodies and it’s where we “experience” emotion. Ancient cultures established the connection between love and the heart.

Because of the profound affect love and other joy-filled emotions have on our heart, it, over time, became the physical symbol of love. The symbol for the heart (❤) is thought to be first used in the Middle Ages, during the mid-13thcentury, in a painting in the Roman de la poire manuscript.

Metaphors and poetry attributing states of being to the heart also emerged during the Middle Ages. Phrases like “broken hearted,” “I love you with all my heart,” “I know it by heart,” etc., originated and became popularized.

 

Why do we feel emotions in our chest… “heart”?

So, the original theories of how the body worked became the reason why the heart is associated with love and other emotions. But, is there truth behind this symbolism and poetry associated with the heart?

The heart is made of muscles, nerves and chemical receptors which allow it to respond to signals from your brain based on your environment. You may feel your chest tighten or “pitter patter” beats.

But, the heart has a mind of its own – literally. Your heart has up to 40,000 neurons located around the right ventricle. These neurons decide how you feel, too, and they send signals to your brain.

In short, the heart and the brain are linked in an interdependent relationship. They are each somewhat autonomous; they make their own rules.

With that, we wish you a Happy National Heart Month! The question remains: Will you listen to your mind or your heart? Hard to know – they both have MINDS of their own and BEAT to their own drums!