It’s a start with the Head and the Heart

The head and heart are two peas in a pod. They are what dictate the way one lives their life, the choices a person makes, and the risks a person takes. Via the carotid artery, the myocardium sends blood to the brain at a rapid rate of three feet per second. When danger is sensed, a cautionary alarm is fired to the hypothalamus in the brain, the hub for the human hormone system.

This causes the sympathetic nervous system to jump start which pulses cortisol throughout the veins and begins the process of surging adrenaline. At this point, the myocardium steps in jolting to a rapid heart rate, speeding up the pulsing of blood throughout the body. Our bronchial tubes open wider and with each breath, our focus intensifies and the strength of the head and heart working together only becomes stronger as we protect ourselves.

But what are we protecting ourselves from? Sometimes this is imminent danger, obvious in its own nature. But other times, it can be similar to when we hear bad news, or something is about to drastically change. In this particular instance, our vagus nerve connecting the heart, brain and stomach is affected, resulting in contraction of the digestive system. Our heartbeats slow and we freeze and feel like we’re choking.

Why does all of this happen? Why do these two reactions juxtapose each other? The head and the heart dictate all of these occurrences. They make us move, make us love, make us learn. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are.

To live is to make choices, but what determines our choices?

I struggle with whether I am making the right choices based on what my rational mind says compared to my heart’s feelings. Is there a way to reconcile these two incongruent approaches to living?

It’s constantly a battle between the mind and the main blood-pumping organ. Each tries to outlast and outmaneuver the other, fighting from two radically unique battlegrounds. The heart, nestled in a forest of capillaries, veins, and arteries, is shielded by the courageous ribs of the thoracic cavity. The brain, on the other hand, resides coiled up into paths of everlasting thought in a bubble of imagination, encased by a daunting skull. Together, they unite a person into a fully functioning machine with a sprinkle of soul and a dash of empathy.

Sometimes, the heart short circuits the brain, striking first. People act without considering repercussions, speak without a filter, and write about anything, no matter how ludicrous.

When awareness of the heart happens, emotions take over. When the heart is the leading light, all logistics go out the window, despite whatever the brain thinks. But then, after the heart conquers, the brain comes back with a vengeance. It’s a slap across the face when you wake up realizing, what are you doing? No planning ahead, didn’t consider what could happen. Now what’s left is damage control and praying it isn’t too late.

Despite what the outcome may be, good or bad, happy or sad, the brain is still a beautiful thing. It makes a person brilliant in every way, handing over the keys to find out how life works.

Through all the tangles of dendrites, cell bodies, and axons that make up a neuron, information is fired through from one place to another, pit-stopping in the brain for processing. The brain prevents from doing most things that people would regret; it always keeps running, a thousand miles ahead of the last step. Always running in-depth, overcomplicating things.

Knowledge is a gift, knowledge is power, and power is a catalyst for change.

The head and the heart are a jumbled up, rag-tag team who make up who we are to the core.

Together, the head and heart remain in a constant banter, but somehow despite them being so incompatible, figure out a way to work congruently.

Will it ever be possible to have control over both and to get them to work together to help guide in the best direction instead of sacrificing one to please the other? This is a skill one will learn with practice, and I have a lot of learning to do.

xox,

M

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