My mother had a favorite picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that hung in our foyer. You couldn’t miss it when you entered the house.
Long, wavy brown hair cascaded down Jesus’ shoulders. His slate-blue eyes stared straight through me, making me feel like I’d just been caught doing something naughty.
A large, blood-red heart burst from the middle of his chest. Above the heart flickered a yellow flame.
His index finger, resting on his stomach, pointed upward, directing the eye toward Jesus’ flaming heart.
There was something about that finger pointing to his heart that grabbed my attention as a child.
My mom often prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with great devotion.
But for me, the icon hanging in our foyer was a mystery. Surely Jesus pointed to his heart for a reason, but why?
As an adult, I stumbled upon the research of the Heart Math Institute.
The scientists at the Institute believe that the heart—not the brain—is our operating system. It’s the hard drive that runs our human body, and it has a mind all its own.
When we’re anxious or afraid, the heartmind signals the brain to quiet us by releasing oxytocin, the calming hormone. When we need an extra boost of energy to face danger, the heart tells the brain to release adrenaline to supercharge our bodies with strength.
The Heart Math Institute reports that since the Enlightenment, with its “I think, therefore I am” philosophy, we’ve been falsely led to believe that our minds operate our human systems. Our minds, however, seek direction and guidance from our hearts, and the two operate as a team.
Some faith traditions teach that the heart is the location of our soul. There’s a yellow flame behind our heart. In the Christian tradition, we call that flame the Holy Spirit. Native Americans call it the Great Spirit.
Regardless of what we call the flame, there’s a universal belief that we receive insight and wisdom from God through our heartspace. It’s the umbilical cord that connects us with the Divine.
The heart, therefore, has intuitive power. It acquires wisdom and understanding through deep listening, the type that occurs in prayer, meditation, and contemplation. When we become quiet and focus on opening our hearts, we access the heartspace. We plug into the life-line that connects us with our Source so we can gain affirmation and guidance from the Creator.
It’s as if the mind says to the heart, “Hey, I could use some help here.” And the heart responds, “I thought you’d never ask.”
As I pondered this heart-mind connection, it dawned on me that maybe that’s why Jesus points to his heart in that picture. He’s telling us we all have sacred hearts just like he does. And while it’s great to worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we need to go beyond the icon and understand our sacred hearts are our connection to the Creator, the link that unites mind, body, and spirit.
Here’s a simple practice I found that helps me connect my mind with my heart.
Find a quiet space to sit and relax. Close your eyes. Take your hand and place it on your forehead. Slowly brush your hand downward across your eyes, nose, mouth, and throat until it rests on your heart.
Feel the warmth of your heart. Notice the energy that emanates from it. That energy is Divine Love. Savor it for a moment.
Next, draw your attention to your heartbeat. Feel the tick-tick of your heart pumping gently in your chest. Let its rhythm calm you, connect you, as you experience its Presence.
You can return to this heartmind practice throughout the day to connect with your sacred heart. In doing so, see if you gain the ability to relax, receive wisdom, and reunite with the Source of your Being as you discover the sacred heart of you.
—brian j plachta
originally published in Converge Magazine. (convergemagazine.com).