Find your brain-heart connection

Our greatest healing comes when we find our brain-heart connection

Seventh Key of 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Health

In an effort to help us understand how to connect our brain and our hearts, Thom Harrison, at our Spring Conference, explained the key to brain-heart development by exploring the concept of “whole-brainedness.” That is when the right and the left brain work in balance rather than in conflict and all our systems function in the manner that God intended for them.”[1]

As we learn and grow, our brains do not “stay at status quo. If we don’t continually feed them, they diminish. If we stop, we eventually forfeit all of our progress. So we continue reading, experiencing, learning, and acquiring new knowledge.”[2]

The Right Brain vs The Left Brain

And as we add new ideas and thinking into our brains, the left brain tries to organize what is being learned. It seeks to give it structure, processing it, and dividing it into its smallest pieces.

While the left brain is at work on getting things organized the right brain is exploring the emotional side of the experience. It tries to perceive, use, understand and manage the feelings related to the learning experience.

In a sense, Harrison says, the right brain is asking, “How do I connect these ideas so I can expand my strength to a greater level?” At the same time, the left brain is asking, “What am I learning? What is the new structure? How can I process this? I’m going to move this into its smallest components.”

Of the two sides, he says, “One is not superior to the other. They are both needed to move us to higher levels of thinking, learning and being.”

Then he explained that as a mental health professional, he has noticed “the world tends to hold up the cognitive part of the brain as the ideal, often looking down on those of us who communicate from the emotive or heart portion of our brain. This is often referred to as the clash between IQ (Intelligent Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) or the brain and the heart.”

IQ (Intelligence Quotient)

IQ, the acronym for Intelligence Quotient, is a measurement of human intelligence expressed in a number. The scientific term itself “typically refers to what we could call academic or cognitive intelligence.” It is defined as: “The whole of cognitive or intellectual abilities required to obtain knowledge, and to use that knowledge in a good way to solve problems that have a well-described goal and structure.”[3] But in everyday language, it refers to how smart or clever someone is.

This is a chart showing the normal distribution of IQ across the general population
The normal distribution of IQ across the general population

IQ is calculated from a person’s scores of several standard tests that aim to estimate intelligence in humans. Over time IQ has become the most completely analyzed way to measure intelligence. However, while it measures cognitive abilities, like memory, attention, and speed, it neglects areas of creativity and social intelligence, and is not without its critics, as to its science.

For more than a century IQ was the major predictor of success in the minds of universities, businesses, and our military. However, people with higher IQs and high levels of education are not always the winners. In fact, success in managing their lives, their relationships or even in keeping a good job, is not a natural consequence of their IQ.

This then prompted the question, “What besides IQ can help predict a person’s success?” It was then that Emotional intelligence (or EQ) was introduced as a possibility.†

EQ (Emotional Quotient)

Emotional Intelligence as seen by Peter Salovey and John Mayer

Peter Salovey and John Mayer have defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”[4]

Because EQ is all about emotions, understanding those emotions, both positive and negative, and how we express them at work or in our daily personal lives is important.

There is more, even missing pieces, which include being able to recognize and express emotions, understanding them and then reasoning with them, and finally managing to get desired outcomes. Together these “are some of the fundamental components of emotional intelligence.”[5]

Brain-Heart Connection

Harrison said, “What lies at the connection between your heart and your brain is something magical, eternal and life-changing.” Explaining this he reminded us that the heart is the first organ developed in a human embryo. The heart then “instructs the cells in the body to create other organs. So the brain-heart connection has been with us from our beginnings.”

“Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional ‘brain.’

“Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing.”[5]

Harrison returning to his thoughts on the right and the left brain invites us now to learn “about the highest form of brain development; where logic and emotion, linear and wholistic, come together. This is what the latest research calls the brain-heart connection.”

Reflecting on puberty, Harrison said, “Letting the brain have full control was never the plan—and we see what happens when the brain is in control best in the teenage years. Teens have a myopic view of the world—it is all about self and self-preservation. This teen-age journey is necessary but certainly not pretty and thank heaven, not permanent.”

Then Harrison asks that we as adults “grow out of puberty and into adulthood.” This so that the “brain-heart” can re-emerge to take its place in running our lives.  And he says, “When the brain-heart development is restored, the IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) again meet and start working together.” That is the moment we grow up, seeing the brilliance of both as they work together, not in conflict and becoming “aligned in all our systems, which were created to function in this manner. Should we not function in the manner God created us?” he asked

Then he reminds us of this seventh key: “Our greatest healing comes when we find our brain-heart connection.”

So while our brain searches for understanding or knowledge, our heart embraces explanation or wisdom. The brain uses our five senses to “study the questions: who (the agent or person) what (outcome) when (time) or where (space).” At the same time, he says, “The heart searches for wisdom by seeking to explain and delve deeper. It strives to theorize on the intangibles of faith asking the questions, why (motive) or how (method).

“It is my experience,” he states, “that only with mind and heart, study and faith, can we find and embrace truth.”

Yin Yang of Brain Heart Balance

This yin and yang of heart and mind working in balance, let us “embrace the higher values of character exemplified by the divine: faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence. In this state, we better share compassion and express gratitude,” he promises.

And as you establish a “brain-heart connection you can expand your wisdom and knowledge, your love, and truth. It is in this connection that you are in line with God.”

“The heart and brain need a continual connection to find lasting healing. As your heart and mind connect, they continue to learn, progress and truly heal.

“In this connection, you are able to find perspective beyond yourself.”

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1 Thom Harrison, “We Understand How We Limit Ourselves, But Why Do We Limit God?,” Keynote Presentation, EternalCore Conference, March 2019
2 Thom Harrison, 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Health
(all remaining quotes from Harrison are taken from these two sources)
3 Resing, W., & Drenth, P. (2007). Intelligence: knowing and measuring. Amsterdam: Publisher Nieuwezijds
4 Rachel Green, The Mayer and Salovey Model of Emotional Intelligence, The EI Institute
5 Rachel Green, Summary of Emotional Intelligence, The EI Institute
6  Rollin McCraty, PH.D., Raymond Trevor Bradley, PH.D. and Dana Tomasino, BA, Heart-Brain Connection, Quantum Life Source

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