Hello dear reader,
The issue of the relationship between Mind & Heart goes probably back hundreds of years and it seems that depending on the era one was prevailing more over the other.
I grew up in an environment that you 'were' one or the other. Usually women were the ones that were following their hearts (like men did not have one) and they were considered as 'hysterics', 'over emotional', 'illogical'; men were the logical ones who would make decisions and base their lives on pure rational. Of course, I was torn between those two, not quite understanding the distinction and not fully fitting in any of the two. I saw couples and families based on that model who were repeating it with their children. The expectations were all there and the risk to break from it was very high!
But what is Mind and what is Heart? and why do we have the tendency to emphasise their distinction and separation?
Intentionally , I am not focusing on the biology of the brain (and body) here which can be found in the literature of the right and left parts of the brain. I am more interested in how their relationship manifests in our consciousness, psychology and behaviour.
What we call Mind (rational mind) is that part of us which has the purpose of keeping us safe and maintaining our survival. It is like a guard voice that will always tell us 'dont do that, it is too dangerous', ' be careful with this, it is too risky', 'dont make the move, you dont have all the information', 'dont follow the unknown' etc. It is the same function that continuously calculates danger around us and 'saves' us from being hit by a car or hurting ourselves. It is a very cautious voice which struggles and more likely rejects anything that it does not understand.
Heart, on the the other hand, is everything to do with our feelings, with excitement, with the 'butterflies in stomach' sense, with our curiosity and passions, with exploring new adventures and making discoveries, with getting lost in the wilderness, with love and connection.
I am sure it is very obvious how different and separate they seem to be and feel and there is no doubt that anyone would feel stuck between this dynamic, really struggling to make a decision based on both of them. It almost feels that there is an archetypal battle there between the masculine and the feminine, the risk and the safety, the known and the unknown, almost between life and death (one ensures life, the other risks death).
But does it have to be a battle?
What maintains the battle is that they think of each other as enemies and, thus, they do not allow themselves to get to know and understand each other for what they are. Feeling safe, having a specific sense of self, being concrete, having a structure and stability in life are fundamental human needs that want to be fulfilled. It is also in our nature to feel and allow all our feelings to be expressed, to be curious and get to know new things, to explore and go a step further into ourselves and towards others, to be intimate and make connections with others.
When we focus on one over the other then the other is being squashed and we are losing the benefits we can have from it.
We dont get into relationships because we are afraid of the unknown, of intimacy, of challenging that stable sense of self of who we are and who we are not, what we like and dont like, how we want our lives to be etc. at the expense of not fully living our feelings, ourselves and our enthusiasm of the unknown, not getting closer to someone different, not learning something new about ourselves, others and the world. It is no surprise that all this is happening within a capitalistic context where everything has to be predictable, all the 'risks' have to be calculated and the outcomes have to be concrete, known and measurable.
If we were to only follow our heart then we would never have stability, we would change places as soon as we fall in love, we would constantly move into the unknown and possibly burn our bodies out, we would create but with no focus on any outcome and we would follow whatever shines in front of our eyes wherever it takes us.
Both Mind &Heart have their benefits and they constitute functions of our being. Permanently choosing one over the other is almost impossible, it is like saying that one prefers to live in a place where there isa always day and never night (or vice versa). 'Putting a lid' on our feelings and passions allowing only the smoke to come through, will give us safety that there is no messiness in the kitchen but it will never give us the pleasure to explore what would have happened if we allow 'it' to come out and be experienced.
The question that comes up then is how do we integrate them? How can we make most of both of them that will serve us towards a life that we want to live?
One of our main struggles in today's global consciousness comes from the fact that we have forgotten that we are travellers, that we are here to experience, not just to achieve, that moving on and forward does not necessarily mean move deeper within. One can continuously achieve outcomes and goals and can maintain a rich (materialistically) status but that alone does not provide the feeling of deep fulfilment that the sense of 'aimless, exploratory playing' can provide.
Just being with what is (Heart & Mind) will always take us home within to where wholeness and fulfilment live.