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“Research over the past two decades profoundly deepened our knowledge of human intelligence… intelligence is distributed throughout the human system… the heart is an intelligent system profoundly affecting brain processing…”
Our commonly-held notion that each of us can be divided into three ‘parts,’ namely body, heart, and mind, is reflected in recent research that adds scientific agreement to this scheme. It is not uncommon these days to read that we possess not one brain, not two brains (a book about the ‘gut brain,’ the enteric nervous system, is titled The Second Brain), but three brains: head brain, heart brain, and gut brain. The term brain is appropriate because of the number and concentration of nerves that is common between all three, and because each one ‘thinks,’ if you define thinking to mean ‘gathers information, makes decisions, and initiates action.’
The heart brain is the newest on the scene. In From Chaos to Coherence, HeartMath founder Doc Childre writes: “Research over the past two decades profoundly deepened our knowledge of human intelligence… intelligence is distributed throughout the human system… the heart is an intelligent system profoundly affecting brain processing…” Scientific research is beginning to quantify what yogis, artists, musicians, and poets have always known from direct experience.
In Ayurveda, digestion is regarded as the ‘central pillar of the body.’ Digestion is a fundamental concern for the gut brain. Disgust means “I can’t swallow this; I don’t want to have to digest this.” Many of our deepest, strongest, and most reliable emotions occur from the enteric nervous system, and therefore “gut feeling.” Gut feeling is a synonym for intuition. Intuition is knowing that does not come from the head brain.
The process of digestion may, in fact, be the evolutionary raison d’être shared by all three. Gut brain controls food digestion, heart brain controls emotional digestion, and head brain controls information digestion. When food digestion is off kilter we have a stomach ache. When emotions are sour or toxic we have heartache. When thoughts are negative or when we experience information overload we have a headache. In each brain, indigestion can be caused by toxic input or simply by overloading the system: too much food, too much emotional stress, or too many media inputs (one survey suggests we digest an average of 205 actual messages each day).
Yoga is concerned with homeostasis, with creating and sustaining dynamic balance among all three. Only when all three are entrained, in synch, can those higher, emergent human functions that we call spiritual, flower.
You are what you eat, so eat healthy!