“Help! I’m trapped in my mind and can’t get out,” I joked with life coach Walt Hampton as I interviewed him for the Finding Flow Virtual Summit I’m hosting in March.
“What do you mean?” Walt asked.
“There’s a tug of war between my head and my heart. My mind won’t let go of the rope.”
“Sounds like you’re suffering from SPS.”
Walt explained that since the Enlightenment with its I think, therefore I am philosophy, we’ve over-relied on our rational minds. We’ve allowed our intellect to become the sole way of navigating life. As a result, many of us have developed what Walt calls Smart Person Syndrome (SPS) because we overthink most everything.
It doesn’t mean people with SPS are more intelligent than others. It simply means those with SPS only rely on their brains to figure out life.
But the brain is supposed to be in partnership with the heart. The heart coordinates and integrates the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual parts of our being. It’s also the source of intuition because it moves beyond our intellect to connect us with the Divine.
When we let our minds sink into our hearts, we connect with our heart-based essence and gain inspiration. Guidance. Balance.
The Intuitive Heart
I did some additional research after talking with Walt and met with Rollin McCraty, the director of research for the HeartMath Institute.
The Institute has been doing scientific research for decades and has determined our hearts, not our brains, are the operating system for humans. Far from being a mere pump, the heart is our “global coordinator.” It integrates our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives.
The heart sends vital messages to the brain and other parts of our bodies. When the brain and heart work together, we experience life as a unified whole. We find inner peace, balance, and wholeness. We enter a state of coherence.
The heart can receive information, intuition, and inspiration that’s beyond time and space, McCraty reports. In other words, the heart has a Divine Connection. When we become heart-based, we open ourselves to letting the mind sink into the heart so the two operate with human intellect and divine intuition.
Becoming heart-based is like learning to dance with a partner. At first it’s awkward—both dancers want to lead. The two trip over each other’s feet.
But when we let the heart lead life’s dance, the mind assumes it proper role, and our lives become a graceful waltz.
Heart to the Rescue!
The other day, I took my dog Bailey for our morning walk. As we trekked along the city sidewalks, Bailey sounded a hound-dog alert. I looked up and spotted a full-grown deer dangling from our neighbor’s fence post.
The deer’s panicked eyes caught mine. It were as if she was pleading, “Help me.”
She had attempted to jump the fence, but her back leg had come down hard on the steel-pointed fencepost. The more she tried to free her leg, the deeper it dug into the fencepost dagger.
My heart jumped into action. I went to the neighbor’s house, rang the doorbell, and apologized for the early morning intrusion. The neighbor offered to call 911. I thanked him.
But the deer’s eyes tugged at my heart. I couldn’t leave her stranded, dangling until God-knows-when an emergency vehicle might arrive. So, I went to another neighbor’s house—the one whose fence the deer had tried to jump.
Within moments, the neighbor and I approached the deer from the rear so as not to spook her. “You’re going to be okay,” we reassured her. We then lifted her leg off the daggered fence post.
Freed, she fell to the ground with a loud grunt and staggered into the bushes. After several moments of regaining her strength, she stood up and wandered slowly into the nearby woods.
Bailey and I continued our walk home as tears of compassion streamed down my face. My heart had told me what to do. It sent the right signals to my brain.
And in those few moments, like the deer, I too was free—free of my overthinking mind that could have told me to walk away, there’s nothing I could do. Free from the fear of being hurt by a wild animal. In that time and space, the deer had set me free. She un-trapped me from my overthinking mind.
Heart-Based Living is the practice of qualifying our thoughts, feelings and actions through our heart for more effective choices and guidance. When we follow our heart, we’re in tune with the Holy Spirit, Divine Guidance, and Wisdom. We experience coherence and harmony in mind, body, and spirit.
I want to live my life like I did in those few moments with the deer—heart-based. I want to stay connected with my Intuitive Heart that unites me with the Divine and shows me the way.
“But how do I do it?” I asked God. “How do I let my mind sink into my heart? How do I let my heart lead?”
It Takes Practice
The HeartMath Institute teaches we have to unlearn over-emphasizing our minds to the detriment of our hearts. The Institute believes if we develop a heart-based approach to life, the inner chaos and conflict we often experience will calm, and the heart and mind will work in harmony.
Like we go to the gym to develop our muscles and nurture a healthy physical body, we can also strengthen our heart muscle through regular practice. With practice, heart-based living becomes natural. Automatic.
The Institute teaches three simple ways we can practice heart-based living. You can find more information about these practices by clicking this link to the HeartMath Institute’s Website: HeartMathExperience Course.
Here’s an overview:
Quick Coherence Exercise
In this practice, you stop for a moment to reconnect with you heart. You focus on your breath and recall a positive feeling or experience.
Through this simple pause you can reconnect with love, gratitude, or other life-giving emotions any time you wish to move into your heart space. Here are the steps:
- Heart-Focused Breathing—Bring your attention and awareness to your heart, to the center of your chest. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area and breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Find an easy rhythm that’s comfortable.
- Activate a Positive, Renewing Feeling—Remember a time you felt love or appreciation for a person, a pet, a moment in nature, or an accomplishment, or just breathe in an attitude of love or gratitude.
Inner Weather Report Exercise
In this exercise, you identify the emotion you’re currently experiencing. Is it a negative emotion such as fear, anger, resentment, judgment, etc., that drains energy? Or is it a positive emotion such as love, joy, gratitude, peace, beauty, etc., that energizes?
When you review your Inner Weather Report, you can notice a pattern to what emotions recur. You can then practice flipping negative emotions into positive ones and enjoying the energy that rejuvenates and invigorates you.
When we do an Inner Weather Report and notice we’re stuck in a negative attitude, we can change that negativity by replacing it with a positive attitude or feeling. Then we lock-in that positive replacement as an anchor we return to throughout the day. Here are the steps:
Observe what you are feeling.
Identify a replacement attitude.
Practice heart-focused breathing.
Breathe in the new attitude or feeling.
Lock in the new attitude or feeling as an anchor and maintain it.
Let’s Go to the Heart Gym This New Year
The HeartMath Institute suggests committing to one or more of the above practices at least once a day for the next six weeks to build resilience and have more heart-based resources to face the challenges of everyday life. Being heart-based allows us to enjoy a more nurturing lifestyle.
When we live from the heart and practice strengthening it, we find practical ways to drop the mind into the heart.
Let’s go to the heart gym each day and wipeout the Smart Person Syndrome so we don’t get trapped in our minds. It’s worth the effort.
Heart-based living is the solution to SPS. It untraps our overthinking minds.
—brian j plachta
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