some nice comments previously led me to a think a little more.
(did you smell something burning?)
let’s use the frontal cortex for what it’s good at: think to a time when you became scared, or something went wrong: really wrong. instead of thinking about in WHAT that event consisted, (since that is not actually real, any more), try to remember what your body did. whatever it did is most likely still stored there, nervously. when i think back to a couple scary moments in my life, i recall my heart-rate going way up, totally out of my control… to the extent that THAT occurrence almost added to the situation. when you multiply events like this (say, in the case of a veteran of war), you get bonified trauma. my sense is that the heart is like the diplomat here… relaying a message, however uncomfortably, not without grace, to the rest of our systems. so; so. when something goes wrong, it often registers in the amygdala (on top of the spine, a little tiny brain), which can almost instantaneously recruit the nervous system to send the message that adrenaline be released into the bloodstream. the heart speeds viciously and pumps that stuff into every inch of our flesh. this is a good thing, when we need it… and an excessively toxic thing, when we don’t. “stress”–as conceived by Hans Selye–is the great killer of the heart. (http://www.stresscanada.org/) adrenaline that is not used in muscle-work, turns to cortisol in the bloodstream and kills muscle, including the emperor muscle.
there is a powerful reciprocation here, between the nervous system and the heart… one cannot act exclusively. it is the deep embedded electrical charge of the phrenetic nerves to MAKE THE HEART’S BEAT. in one of my kung fu books, there’s a meditation that says, “heaven and earth is like a bellows, one moves not without the other.” the heart-nervous system are a heaven and earth within our bodies. learning to observe this dynamic, and eventually govern it, is one of the greatest human tasks. to return to loving. from the mythical perspective, Cupid is not a good shot. in fact, as we can attest, he almost never gets the proper target (this is played upon heavily in Shakepeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”)… one fool falling in love with the next. if you think about your own experiences in these matters, you might recall that something was wrong… from the beginning. which, in my little world means that you lost control of your nervous system, the heart, and then let a haywire confusion of electrical impulses to the bigger brain get interpreted as LOVE. but wasn’t it wonderful?! sometimes that’s not so clear. especially in the midst of the worst part of that hangover. and then we ultimately crave another of that magical drink of the gods.
what would it be like to become conscious here? meaning, live in the heart, nervous system, AND the palace of our fixations: the cerebellum? to choose to love, and love the choosing?
the ancients lived fully in these holistic systems, evaluating their physiology more often, standing there, listening-in to heart beats, electrical impulse, the ground, the sky, light flooding in their eyeballs… and myths served as cautionary boundaries to experience, Cupid misfiring, Zeus raping Danae, Athena pulling Achilles’ hair back to keep him from killing Agamemnon. these myths are not external to human behavior… they are the balance of our physiology. so what is it to listen to our heartbeat? the ancient Greeks had thumos, ?????, a powerful term for the breast… the heart, soul, breath, life, animus. it is often ascribed as the seat of thinking, as in, “his heart bade him shoot.” it was also a breastplate, as in armor. the armor of our own feelings… the more quickly and truly you can access them, the stronger you are.
i intend to lead us away from the brain a little. we can only address the fixation with neuroscience by listening-in to our bodies, to what’s actually happening. this requires a kind of continual warrior spirit, gay, triumphant, unashamed, and willing to wear our hearts on our… chests. to use them. what’s your armor?
so let our armor be made of iron, and lightening.