This article includes excerpts from Living an Extraordinary Life by Christina Grote and Pamela Kramer. Find more information in the book.
The heart is a physical organ that beats inside each person’s chest, but as poets, mystics, and lovers have long known, it represents so much more. When we speak of the heart in ITP, we are referring primarily to our emotional nature, but also to the intelligence of the heart. The heart has its own ways of knowing, and we can become more sensitive to what it has to say.
Many phrases in English draw upon qualities of the heart—as in “take heart,” or as the old song goes, “You gotta have heart”—referring to courage, dedication, and that which drives us onward. Through the heart we feel a sense of connection with others, and through this connection we can feel compassion, empathy, and, of course, love. These feelings can give rise to the wish to treat others as one would wish to be treated, known as the Golden Rule in the Christian tradition, and by other names in many traditions throughout the world. This sense of love and connectedness also fuels our desire to be of service to each other and to the greater world. ITP addresses the heart through our emphasis on the value of community, service to others, and particularly in our heart-based practice of staying current. ... This practice imparts skillful ways of noticing and communicating what is alive in us and sharing this with our partners and our wider community.
The physical heart has qualities that might surprise you. Beyond its function as a pump, the heart has its own complex nervous system, sending far more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Signals from the heart especially affect the brain centers responsible for strategic thinking, reaction times, and self-regulation. The heart is also a producer of hormones. Like a cell phone signal, the heart’s powerful electromagnetic field is a carrier wave for information about your emotional state, and can be read by those sensitive enough to pick it up.