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Brain + Heart = Mind


The brain is a hot topic these days, and we have amazing access to learning about our own "grey matter."  Many books grant us this access, and some noteworthy ones include: Daniel Amen's Making a Good Brain Great; Antonio Damasio's  Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain(en castellano, El error de Descartes); and Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

Charlie Rose hosted an amazing series of programs on the brain, some of which you can see online. There is much more available, but these examples can certainly get a brain enthusiast started on the path to 
deep and accurate knowledge.

There is another really good book, though, whose title does not directly let you in on the fact that it reveals one of the most important secrets to our brains.  The Instinct to Heal (en castellano: Curación emocional) by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber contains information on our brains that, if heeded, can herald a new world in personal and social growth. That information on the brain points straight to the heart. On page 39 of the 2004 hardback edition of The Instinct to Heal, I found a diagram that made me feel like this: Someone cracked open an egg, and a new dawn streamed out of that crack and surrounded me with light.

           


Look carefully and follow the lines, you will see that we have "wires" that go straight to our brains from our hearts and vice versa. Dr. Servan-Schreiber writes:

"...the heart does more than simply react to the influence of the central nervous system:  It also sends out nerve fibers back to the base of the skull where they modulate brain activity. 
........
Besides releasing hormones, regulating blood pressure, and influencing the body's magnetic field, the 'small brain' in the heart can thus act on the emotional brain via direct nerve connections."

Through the ages, humankind has wondered, What and where is the Mind?  The neuro-scientists can laugh at me if they like, but I believe that Dr. Servan-Schreiber's book provides the best answer to that question. The mind is brain-and-heart in concert. The mind "lives" somewhere along that nerve-fiber pathway and lives in a dynamic state--no more to be pinned down than the wind itself, and no less real. More than ever, I now believe that the saying, "It's all in your mind," should serve as incentive for exploration and not an excuse for dismissal from health care professionals.

Dr Servan-Schreiber's work has helped me come to this conclusion: The heart and brain make music together, the mind displays their harmony or their discord, as the case may be. While we cannot physically pinpoint where the mind occurs or determine the exact nature of  its "structure," it is what each of us truly owns. The mind is, indeed, a sacred territory--one that should not be manipulated or invaded, not by false advertising, not by greedy banking firms, and not by psychotic despots.

So, let us mind our hearts and feel our minds, using both to seek and find the truth, using both to find the courage life asks of us. Courage, mon coeur. Courage, mon esprit. Courage pour tout.

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