Head versus heart: why did they ever split up?
When I was growing up in Ireland and attending secondary school, I had to choose between the sciences and the humanities. At the tender age of 14, when I was clueless about who I really was and what I wanted, I had to make this life-defining choice. Consulting the career-guidance counsellor did not help, as he himself had clearly chosen the wrong career.
Those who wanted a more credible, secure career opted for the sciences, whereas those who wanted to follow their hearts or creative yearnings opted for the arts. We learn early in life that the world of science offers respectability, credibility and security, while the arts and humanities are considered to be less serious or worthy. You don’t often hear about starving engineers, but starving artists appear to be a worldwide phenomenon.
The separation of head from heart has created a fundamental rift between two essential and complementary aspects of our selves.
This separation of head from heart has created a fundamental rift between these two essential and complementary aspects of our selves. Without one, we lose perspective; without the other, we lose our humanity. With too much of one, we end up stuck in our heads, relying on logic to make things work; with too much of the other, we may become ungrounded or fail to stand up for ourselves when challenged.
Having just published a book (see https://www.emfoff.com/) that blends science and sentiments in a rather novel way, I was nonetheless surprised when several people told me how brave I was. Did I not worry about losing credibility by talking about consciousness and feelings? Wasn’t I afraid that real scientists would dismiss this kind of book as fluff, lacking scientific credibility? I never even thought about this. To me, science and humanity must come together as equal partners for our world to make sense—and for us to evolve in a positive direction. After all, many of the problems I was addressing in my book were the direct result of the split between head and heart, which is one of the key reasons we have abdicated control over our own lives, surrendering our sense of what’s right in deference to those who supposedly know better than we do.
Body knows best
Yet there is no greater authority than the human body—our own personal medium of evolution—and reclaiming our autonomy requires engaging not just our hearts and minds but also our spiritual selves. We must be fully human to be fully effective. We must engage our multi-dimensional selves if we want to have an impact that goes beyond conventional approaches. We must elevate our consciousness if we want to rise above the dysfunction of our world. And we must tell a new story about what’s possible and how powerful we really are.
While we might tend to give more credence to science than anything else, we also love stories. We immerse ourselves in stories, whether they’re our own personal accounts, the books we read, the movies we watch or the history we research. Stories are both an escape from current reality and a potential springboard to a brighter future. We can use them to perpetuate an old pattern or to create a vision of something fabulous.
Think of famous actors and how much money they make. Who else gets paid big bucks for telling stories and prancing around pretending to be something they’re not? Okay, yes, politicians do, although they don’t get paid as much as movie stars and they’re meant to protect our interests rather than just providing entertainment.
Our love of stories, movies and fantasies is all about creativity and imagination. It has nothing to do with science. And science itself would be a lot less advanced if it weren’t for our capacity to dream and envisage phenomenal things, and to tap into universal intelligence for inspiration, healing and breakthroughs. Creativity, intuition and imagination are not just necessary counterparts to left-brain scientific thinking; they are often the midwives that enable a theory, idea or innovation to be born.
Even scientists fall in love. We all have hearts, although we might try to hide our true feelings in certain contexts, for fear of being considered weak or effeminate. Yet we now know that heartbreak, emotional disconnectedness and loneliness can cause heart attacks and very real, physical conditions, whereas heartfelt emotions are magnetic, connecting us to things about which we care passionately, when fuelled by positive intention and determination. The heart does not use logical analysis to make inspired choices. It operates on a higher plane, tapping into the infinite realm of universal intelligence and intuition.
We all have hearts, although we might try to hide our true feelings in certain contexts, for fear of being considered weak or effeminate.
If your heart is disconnected from your head, it’s a bit like revving your car when it’s stuck in neutral. There’s power there but it’s not engaged; there’s potential for forward movement, but no one is actually driving, steering or focusing in a particular direction. Lots of noise but no action. A waste of energy with no useful outcome.
Home is where the heart is, but the heart is also home. If we abandon it in favour of our heads, we may feel lost, disconnected or conflicted, experiencing mixed results in our endeavours. Reconnecting to our heart and allowing it to guide us is the only sure way to stay true to ourselves and to create a life we love.
To get reconnected, try to incorporate the following seven steps into your daily routine:
1. Slow down and switch off. Fast-paced living prevents us from connecting with our feelings, processing our emotions and integrating life’s experiences. Busyness, social media and constant online connectivity can be a great way to avoid feeling pain, loss, conflict etc. We need stillness so we can become aware of the important subtle messages from our hearts and bodies.
2. Practise meditating. Emptying the mind and taking a break from analysing or questioning our lives creates space for inspiration and answers, while giving our over-worked bodies and brains a rest.
3. Spend time in nature. Being in a natural environment—away from noise, machinery, traffic, phones, computers, work and people—is the most powerful way to ground ourselves and find peace. Nature is all about growth and life, and we could not exist without it. When we spend time in the forest, by the ocean or on a mountaintop, we revitalize our bodies and feed our spirits, often gaining a fresh perspective on things.
4. Nourish yourself. A healthy body promotes a clear mind and a happy heart. We must nourish our brain, soothe our nervous system and boost our immune system if we want to stay balanced. Wholesome, unprocessed foods, healthy oils (such as organic coconut, camelina, avocado and fish oils), iodine (to protect against manmade electromagnetic radiation), antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E), superfoods (such as chlorella, blueberries, cacao and goji berries) and lots of pure water all help to keep the heart and body healthy.
5. Work your body. Moving your body aerobically takes you out of your head and into your feelings. Kundalini yoga or other vigorous exercise stirs things up, releases tension and prompts our innate wisdom and deeper feelings to surface. The body holds all the clues and answers we need, and the heart is its most reliable messenger—our built-in wellness ambassador, best friend and advisor.
6. Write it out. Writing can be a great way of exploring your deeper feelings and thinking outside the box. Try writing non-stop for five minutes every day, with no fixed theme and no editing—just whatever comes to you. Our hearts and minds hold all the insights we could ever want and spontaneous writing can help us to access them.
7. Laugh and connect with loved ones. Everyone needs meaningful human connections for physical, emotional and mental health. Sometimes we may not even know what we feel or want until we talk to a friend or close relative. Relating to others helps us to relate to our deeper selves, and having love in our lives makes all the challenges worthwhile.What works for you? What process, food or supplement has helped you stay emotionally connected and on track with your life?