Heart Center

By Richard Haynes

The Charaka Samhita, a classic Ayurvedic text, states ” …the center of the five senses, and the mind is located in the heart. In it also is the seat of excellent ojas and the reservoir of consciousness.”

The heart is not only the center of the circulatory system, but the center of all bodily functions including the mind. This idea may sound strange to westerners, where the brain is assumed to be the location of the mind. However, this idea is also found in many other cultures. What does this mean?

The heart along with the breath (often thought of as one system) together respond immediately to both internal and external stress. When we are sick heart rates can increase 20, 30, 40 beats per minute. When in deep meditation, the heart rate can slow more than in sleep. If we desire to attain yoga, full integration of the body, mind and spirit, then what is happening with the heart  gives us some objective indication of our degree of yoga.

I have found in my personal experience and in training others that using various Ayurvedic practices one can learn to be very active and maintain a slow steady heart rate and slow steady breath rate.

During these periods, the subjective experience is one of comfort and calm, heightened sensual awareness, and complete effortlessness. The person actually has the subjective experience they could continue forever. This, in spite of a high level of physical activity.

Dr. John Douillard, author of “Body, Mind and Sport” has done research showing that during these times the brain functions in alpha, a state normally attributed to a deep meditative state. No previous research has been found showing alpha brain waves with eyes open while performing action.

The personal training I do is very simple, yet produces profound benefits. To my knowledge, few people have taken this approach to personal training. There are techniques that allow a person to experience a state of deep relaxation and alpha brain waves with eyes closed. What I teach allows a person to have this experience during dynamic activity.

The benefits are obvious. First, the increased awareness gained allows the person to achieve new levels of productivity and creativity in whatever they are doing. Second, the physiology actually accumulates fewer toxins and stress during the day. The immune system becomes stronger and all aspects of the physiology are benefited, including improved digestion.

Further, when one knows how to create an experience of comfort and balance during dynamic activity, and knows what to do if the balance is lost, how to regain the balance, how to stay in balance, then your bliss becomes a choice. It is important to note that when I say knows, I mean from an experiential viewpoint, not from an intellectual viewpoint.