Text: Nicole Schnackenberg | Illustration: Ingrid Sanchez (@creativeingrid)
“Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Certain things are contagious. The common cold, yawns, laughter… even the energetic quality of our presence.
Often, when we see a loved one in distress, we may feel drawn to saying or doing something ‘useful’. We might feel responsible for taking action in some way, for alleviating their pain. We may even think that we need to solve their problems for them or take away their anguish completely. Given the complex nature of the external world and of our inner world of emotions, we can find ourselves falling incredibly short of changing circumstances for others or for ourselves.
There is a great deal to be said for acceptance. Acceptance of where we are at, where others are at and where the universe is at in any given moment of time. This is not to deny the importance of igniting change or to promote ideas of despondency, but to muse upon the fact that sometimes all we can do is to be with someone when the going gets tough. This requires a great deal of trust; trust that our presence is enough to make a positive impact on the experience of those around us. The good news is that our presence alone really can make a massive difference in the world.
The heart has long been viewed as the seat of our emotions. According to music, art and literature across millennia, the heart is the carrier of love, creativity, wisdom and gratitude among a myriad of other positive attributes. Increasingly, there is a scientific basis for this understanding. The heart physically communicates with the brain and the rest of the body. The communication pathways between the heart and brain actually originate in the heart and travel through the part of the brain responsible for emotional memory before moving all the way to the top of the brain responsible for thinking and reasoning. The pulse of the heart reaches and energises every cell of the brain and body.
Researchers have long been fascinated by the electromagnetic field of our hearts. According to scientists at Heartmath, the heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the human body, producing the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body’s organs. The electromagnetic field of the heart can be detected up to three feet away in all directions. When two people are in close proximity, therefore, the electromagnetic fields of their hearts are interacting with one another.
There is a direct relationship between the heart-rhythm patterns and the information encoded in the frequency of the magnetic field radiated by the heart. On account of this relationship, our emotional state is communicated through the body and into the external environment. When two people interact with one another there is a subtle electromagnetic or energetic communication occurring beneath the level of conscious awareness. In yogic terms, we are very much in the realm of subtle bodies. The physical body consists of energy that vibrates very slowly and therefore appears as solid to the physical eyes. There are also energetic layers of our being outside of our physical vision; these layers, or subtle bodies, create an interconnected field of energy around the physical body typically referred to as the auric field. Our auric field can absolutely be felt and experienced by those around us, as indeed we can be acutely affected by the energy of the subtle bodies of others.
An increasing bank of research by Heartmath indicates that when we bring our hearts into a state of peaceful coherence, we can affect the electromagnetic energy in the heart-fields of others. Indeed, the heart-rhythms between two people can become synchronised. Even more than this, research is showing that when a person is in a physiologically coherent state, they exhibit greater sensitivity in registering the signals radiated by other people’s hearts, thus increasing their ability to empathise, to connect and to understand the deeper meaning behind spoken words.
Quite often, all we really want is for another person to come down to the floor with us and be with us in our pain. If we are then met with love and acceptance, the sense of being alone in our struggle can lift organically. If the person sharing our experience is in a state of emotional coherence, we too can find ourselves entering into a more peaceful state of being. Emotional alignment and attunement can then beautifully follow.
We are human beings, not human doings. Sharing our presence with another person is often all they wish for, all they truly need. To give of ourselves, without judgement, is surely the most courageous and loving gift we can give this Christmas.