By: Emma Broderick, L.Ac., MAOM, Dipl. OM
Did you know that your heart has 40,000 of its own neurons that communicate with the rest of the body, namely your brain? This news impacts all of us. With February being the month of love, I’d like to share with you what I have learned about the relationship between our heart, the brain, and our reproductive system.
In Chinese Medicine, there is an intimate connection between the heart and the reproductive system, called the Bao Mai channel. It is important to keep this channel open in order for conception to occur, in other words, to remain “open-hearted”. We all have a sense of what this means on an intuitive level, but for those of us who are more left brained it’s important to understand it anatomically, as well.
Our heart is an amazing organ pumping 2,000 gallons of blood a day to keep us alive, but it is also an emotional organ, according to Chinese Medicine, as it is deeply impacted by our feelings and inner experience. This is not a new idea, however. There is a long history of the heart being connected to emotions in various cultures around the world. Consider phrases like “hearts desire; a big heart; heart centered; open heart; faint of heart; young at heart.”
In allopathic medicine most view the brain to be the organ of emotions as neurons allow us to think and process information from the internal and external environment. According to the Heart-Math Institute however, 90% of neural pathways go from the heart to the brain. That’s right, most of the communication between the heart and the brain comes from the heart and is then received by the brain, and the brain responds by sending messages to the rest of the body. Emotion can be measured in the heart through the variability of our heart rhythm. The state of this rhythm directly impacts our brain and the rest of the organs in our body, including the reproductive system.
The wavelengths used to measure heart rhythm and electrical impulse can look variable and jagged, or they can be smooth and maintain a relatively even plane, which is a much healthier and harmonious state for the heart and brain to be operating within. This is called “heart coherence”. We are in this state of coherence when experiencing positive emotions, such as, joy, peace, and love, and we revert to an incoherent state with negative emotions like stress, anger and frustration.
“From a physics perspective, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization” between organ systems.” -Heart Math Institute
According to the Institute’s studies, heart coherence leads us to more energy, clearer thinking, enhanced immune function and hormonal balance. A state of incoherence, however, will lead to increased cortisol, adrenaline and prolactin, in addition to reduced blood flow to the reproductive organs. This kind of hormone dis-regulation and reduction of blood flow suppress optimal fertility.
So what do we do with this information? And how can we shape it personally to increase our fertility?
The answer – practice being embodied in your heart space.
This means increasing the awareness of your emotions so you can more effectively respond to life circumstances. How often are you in a state of stress? How are you feeling when you are being intimate with your partner? Are there places of restriction in your body when you imagine yourself bearing a child? Are there ways you can shift your internal response to one of more joy and peace, even when confronted with stress? Ask yourself questions and see what you learn.
I have found being embodied to be the most effective way to quiet the brain and calm my system. For me this looks like tuning into the exact sensations occurring in my body in any given moment and using my breath to direct more space and ease into areas of dis-ease. We are in charge of our heart coherence and this awareness is empowering!
So here are some at home practices that I have gathered from the Heart Math Institute and local yoga practitioners, like Amanda Leaveck. I encourage you to utilize this three step practice consecutively and regularly to find a greater sense of peace and understanding on your fertility journey:
Simply become aware of what the physical space of your heart feels like in your body.
Next breathe into this space. Imagine as though the breath is passing directly through the heart space you are already feeling, and notice any shifts in sensations of the mind, heart space, and body.
After the first two steps, find a sense of gratitude in that space. You can start small and simple. “I am grateful that the sky is blue today”. And continue this sensation of gratitude in your body for at least five minutes. And again, notice how you feel? Has the energy in your body shifted, has your mind slowed? If it feels enjoyable, I encourage you to make this a written morning practice as well, and to start the day by writing down all the things you are grateful for in an unfiltered stream of consciousness, until you feel full and complete. Lastly, as soon as it feels comfortable I recommend focusing some of the time you spend in gratitude to be directed towards your body, your health, your partner, and your relationship. This will make the gratitude specific to the healing of the hearts effect on our reproductive system.
My hope for you in reading this blog is to open your heart to the intelligence of the Bao Mai, and that you find an overall heightened state of connection with your emotional state to create a more harmonious environment to allow new life to grow.
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