I remember how all I was taught in school about the heart was that it’s a muscle that circulates my blood. Sitting at my chilly silver school desk, I’d drum my pencil on my science book and wonder … how can an organ that’s supposedly so mechanical be this universal symbol for love?
Now that I’m an adult, I think that question can be answered in many ways.
But today I like this semi-scientific one: The heart is associated with love because it delivers chemical feedback on whether or not we love our experiences. After all, isn’t it the heart’s job to circulate endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine, and other chemicals through the bloodstream? What chemicals it circulates and how many chemicals are released depends on what thoughts our brains think … Do we love the things we choose to say, think and do throughout our days? How do we handle stress? Do we put ourselves in stressful situations or around people who drain us again and again?
For the past few years, I’ve intentionally used my heart as a little red life coach. I’ve steered clear of stressful situations before I got pulled into them. When I have, my heart’s said “good job” by staying calm and steady. When I’ve chosen to think the best about bad situations and walked away from other ones that were continuously draining me, my heart again has said “good job” by circulating a healthy smattering of endorphins.
On the other hand, the times I’ve committed to something that I didn’t have peace about, or had no passion for, my heart kicked into overdrive to circulate the surplus of fight or flight chemicals being released by my brain. (As we’ve all experienced, while all body chemicals have their purpose, the release and circulation of too much at once can tax the body.)
So I guess this steadfast, earnest organ does actually have a lot to do with love. If we let it, the heart can serve a sort of divine double duty. On one hand, it delivers blood like a good machine should. On the other, it’s more like a living teacher, repeatedly showing us how it’s working in cahoots with the brain to coach us into choosing thoughts, experiences and influences that are entirely good for us.
How’s that for love?