Today, we know that the heart is not the source of love or the other emotions, per se; the ancients were mistaken. And yet, more and more, we have come to understand that the connection between the heart and the emotions is a highly intimate one.
The heart may not originate our feelings, but it is highly responsive to them. In a sense, a record of our emotional life is written on our hearts.
Fear and grief, for example, can cause profound cardiac injury. The nerves that control unconscious processes such as the heartbeat can sense distress and trigger a mal-adaptive fight-or-flight response that triggers blood vessels to constrict, the heart to gallop and blood pressure to rise, resulting in damage. In other words, it is increasingly clear that our hearts are extraordinarily sensitive to our emotional system, to the metaphorical heart, if you will.
It is important to take care of our heart. Emotional stress is becoming a matter of life & death these days.
Listen to the TED Talk here where Sandeep Jauhar explores the mysterious ways our emotions impact the health of our hearts — causing them to change shape in response to grief or fear, to literally break in response to emotional heartbreak — and calls for a shift in how we care for our most vital organ.