Pauses for the heart

Have you heard those stories about organ donors? A recipient suddenly falls in love with classical music, and later learns the owner of the heart was a classical musician; a fast-food junkie receives a heart from a vegetarian and suddenly meat makes her sick; or more dramatically, the story of a 10-year old who received the heart of a murdered 8-year-old. The murder was unsolved. Yet, the 10-year old began to have nightmares, and the details in her dreams convicted the killer with the time, weapon, place, and clothes he wore.

The stories are documented in Paul Pearsall’s, MD, book, The Heart’s Code, after he interviewed 150 organ transplant recipients and found that the cells of living tissues do remember. (February, the month of valentines, is American Heart Month, by the way.) Does the recipient know he’s getting far more than just a heart? That he will now have access to the pathways that make up another soul?

Memories are stored in our cells, not just our minds.

When a baby is created, the first sign of life is the beating heart. The heart comes first… not the brain.

Knowing this information makes me uneasy about checking that box on the driver’s license application for organ donation. I know this is the greatest gift I can give… but knowing that the organ comes with its own “private” personal history changes everything. It’s nut just a pump; it’s a heart full of memories, pains, joys… that will live on despite my physical presence here or not. I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around the whole concept just yet…

This month, I’m starting a radically new yoga routine — Kundalini Yoga. On a physical level, I’ve never worked harder, sweating and panting through the end. On a heart level, I notice that it is pulling deeply embedded memories out of hibernation. Stories flash before me like a mini-movie-dream.

Between each yoga, (asana), pose, you are invited to rest. At first, I was irritated, as my goal for doing this DVD was to keep my heart rate elevated throughout the entire routine. I have since learned that the rests do not de-escalate my heart rate that much, really. The rest is necessary — without these little pauses the memories the poses invoke would pile up and crash at the end of the hour. The rest is not for my heart rate… it’s for my heart.

Have you noticed how dramatically different the mind and heart approach a problem? Just when you think you have it all figured out logically, you somehow feel uneasy. Slowly, and I am learning that it’s always, the logic of the heart begins to make itself known. The logic is suddenly so clear you cannot make another choice — and that knot in your gut seems to vanish. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To believe your own thoughts, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men–that is genius.”

Those little pauses are so important. Although the mind speaks loud and clear, the heart never shouts. It always whispers. Without the pauses, we can’t hear what the heart is saying.

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14 comments to “Pauses for the heart”
  1. Just an FYI–If you sign an organ donor card (not just your driver’s license) you can specify which organs you do or do not want to donate, if there are any you feel squeemish about.

    I urge you, however, to take a look at the numbers of individuals in the United States who die daily waiting for transplants. Please visit to find out more.

    I realize it’s a very personal decision. However, I like the bumper sticker: “Please don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.”

  2. wesleyjeanne, I clicked over there… very poignant point they make. I wonder if we do take our organs to heaven, though? Are they part of our soul – I’m just wondering where the soul, the mind, the body and spirit end. They seem to be so inter-connected, it’s hard to grasp how you can take one part away, and not affect the rest.

    When they clone sheep, how do they create the soul that goes along with it?

  3. But then, where does the ‘self’ and the soul start?
    I do tend to follow the intuitive leaks of my heart(?) – my habit of post-rationalising pretty much everything drives my boss round the bend.

  4. Interesting about the pauses between asanas and your memories. I’ve heard of that happening with massage and other body work.

    I once worked with a man who had a transplanted heart. He definitely had new feelings and even likes/dislikes after the surgery.

    I know I’ve read that scientists have found that there are cells in the heart that don’t seem to have anything to do with circulation or pumping…maybe a physical manifestation of the heart’s real purpose?

  5. I too have read stories of phenomena organ recipient’s have experienced but let’s hope that commonsense prevails, that media hype doesn’t escalate the negative tales, over the postive gift of organ donation!

  6. I’ve always followed my heart…sometimes to what seems like disastrous results…but I have many interesting memories!

    That yoga DVD sounds amazing…care to share which one?

  7. It’s the Warrior Workout from Ravi Singh, Warrior Workout – Kundalini Yoga If you want to utterly “workout” and put yourself to the point of “pulp” this one is it. Lots of breath of fire… After the first three times, it gets a little easier manageable. The video works mostly on the solar plexus — something I need with four boys in the house.

    This is one of the few kundalini yoga dvds I do — typically hatha. Kundalini works faster on the body/mind/spirit thing. Hatha, I still need, as it keeps my hips open..I suffer from restless legs.

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