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I Will No Longer Gaslight My Heart

by Lisa Avnet

"I Will No Longer Gaslight my Heart - How to come back to the heart and the body when we are often taught the opposite. " What a title!  Writer Brigit Anna McNeill, whose Substack page I subscribe to, came out yesterday with this amazing article. This speaks to my own knowledge and experience of the heart and human consciousness.  It's well worth the read.

I Will No Longer Gaslight My Heart, Lisa Avnet in Pittsfield, MA

Please note, the writing below is Brigit Anna McNeill's Substack post.  If this resonates and you're wanting reconnection, my coaching work will support you in the process.

Gaslighting - manipulate (someone) using psychological methods, into questioning their own sanity, or reality.

.... I hope it may in some way inspire, empower or touch you. 

Growing up, I grew to understand that it was not good to listen to my heart, or the feelings that arose within my body.

Whether in school, at home, with my peers or my abusers, the message was to put aside what I felt, to not listen and to instead go along with the main consensus.

This led me to squash, hide or shut down how I felt, in order to please, to be accepted and to get along or be safe.

And slowly, over time, shutting down how I felt, became such a strong ingrained habit, that I no longer heard my feelings as wisdom, but as useless ramblings or annoyances, a voice that got in the way of the mask I tried to wear. And so I took on the role of the gaslighter, gaslighting the very heart of me. Not allowing it space, not allowing the reality it voiced to be true.

I do not for a moment, blame, shame or hate myself for becoming this way, but it does make me sad to think of all the years I didn’t listen, all the years I thought my own voice silly. But I know it was something I did in order to survive, to keep myself safe while I lacked the tools, support and the knowledge to do any different. And what's scary, is that I know I'm not alone. I know that most people in the modern western world, have experienced this too.

Most of us are not taught the knowledge and wisdom that we hold inside of ourselves, we are, most often moved away from our feelings and voice in order that we can get on with the task at hand, or be agreeable and fit in.

Yet over the years, I have come to understand another reality, I have been researching the human heart and its function beyond moving blood around our bodies, and I have become fascinated and inspired by what I have found.

I was first put on this path by a deeply inspiring author, herbalist and poet - Stephen Harrod Buhner, who sadly has recently passed away. But alongside his research into plants, plant medicine, his ensoulment of language and his writing books, he deeply and thoroughly researched the heart, and wrote about it in some of his books. (Information about his books are at the end of this post )

He showed me that one of the most powerful tools we own in helping us to be guided, looked after, connect to ourselves and the world around is our heart, and that it is vital to be on speaking terms with our hearts.

The human heart is mysterious, intelligent, powerful, deeply feeling and often misrepresented.

In these modern times, especially within western culture, the heart has been largely left on the shelf and forgotten.

“The majority of modern peoples, if asked to find the place within their body where the unique self resides, would say they live about an inch above their eyebrow….. But most indigenous and historical peoples would locate the self someplace very different. They would gesture in the region of the heart. For most of our history of habitation on earth, that is where the seat of intelligence, the seat of the soul, was located. That this has changed is more an expression of how and what we are taught in western cultures than of some exact truth.” - Stephen Harrod Buhner

There is much ancient wisdom, understandings and stories about the heart as a seat of the soul, a place of knowing and the compass and guide of our being. These stories are now being backed up by numerous scientific studies which show the heart to be an organ of perception and communication, a brain in its own right through which we view the world, an organ deeply rooted in our emotional and mental health.

Aristotle considered the heart as the center of reason, thought, and emotion. Senior to the brain in importance. Ninth century Arabic philosopher Abu Nasr al-Farabi believed that, “The ruling organ in the human body is the heart; the brain is a secondary ruling organ subordinated to the heart.” Auguste Comte, a 19th century French philosopher declared that the brain should be servant to the heart. Twelfth century Christian mystic, Hildegard of Bingen wrote, “The soul sits at the centre of the heart, as though in a house.”

“The most common denominator in all religions is that the heart is the seat of wisdom,” said Rollin McCraty PhD,  director of research at the HeartMath Institute.

The heart's modern story, through scientific studies, is being slowly rewilded and restored, coming back to something ancient peoples were more aware of.

Many various, varied and in-depth scientific studies have shown that the heart picks up, processes, reads and also generates messages from inside and outside the body in complex patterns of multiple physiological events; hormonal, neurochemical, electric, magnetic and chemical messages, and sends them to the brain and throughout the body.

This communication from the heart has deep impacts not only on our physiological functioning and health, but also on how well we think and feel.

Sixty five percent of the heart cells are neural cells, the exact same as those of the brain, and they also function in the same way.

The heart possesses an intricate neural network in the form of its own nervous system, which has been named the heart-brain - Composed of an intricately woven network, the same as that of the brain in the head, and has both short-term and long-term memory functions this enables the heart to act independently of the head-brain when it comes to learning, remembering, making decisions, feeling, sensing and storing its own memory.

These memories that the heart contains, affect consciousness and behavior and are often to do with strong emotional experiences and the meanings within them.

Although it's been shown that the heart is an independent thinker, the heart is always in conversation and communion with the head, for they are of course part of one community - the community of the body. They are always partaking in a continuous flow of chatter about the world inside and outside of them.

Contrary to what I had been taught, and perhaps what many of us have been led to believe, the heart sends more signals and communication to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. The brain is, in its innate form, led by the heart rather than the other way around, for the brain is continuously responding to what the heart presents to it.

Communication from the heart, significantly impacts the brain, and research shows that messages the heart sends to the brain, shapes how we perceive and react to the world.

Information that comes from the world inside and outside of us, speaks first to the heart in waves and frequencies, the heart feels these things, ignites emotions and then informs the brain about what it has perceived, the brain then forms an action around what the heart perceives.

We evaluate everything emotionally as we perceive it, we think about it after - Doc Childre (Heartmath Solution)

But it is the electromagnetic field of the heart that is completely fascinating and intriguing for me.

Electromagnetic field is the term used to describe combined electric and magnetic fields.

The heart is an electrical organ, and is by far the strongest source of rhythmic bio electricity in the body, sixty times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain, furthermore, this electrical energy goes to every cell in your body.

Lisa Avnet offers Hypnosis in Pittsfield, MAPicture from the Heart Math Institute

Your heart produces enough energy to create a magnetic field that surrounds your body 360 degrees, 100 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain, extending beyond the skin and out into space, measurable at about 10 feet outside your body, some scientists say they believe it may be capable of reaching out even further.

Our whole body is cradled within our hearts electro magnetic field, it aligns along our white spines, from the pelvic floor to the skull, permeating every cell.

The field not only wraps around us, but fills our whole inner body. Internally the hearts field sends informational messages on multiple frequencies to our internal world, the different parts of the body respond, and so the heart field, is always aware of how our whole body is, due to the informational and sensory cues that come from all over the body to the heart about what is going on inside of us. This is felt in us as feelings and emotions that we then send to the brain for analysis.

Each health problem, malfunction of an organ, emotional and feeling weather greatly effects our hearts electromagnetic field, changing its shape, strength and feeling tone.

When we remember how to pay attention to our bodies and our hearts, when we relearn how to use these cues and we gain wisdom about our own terrain.

But the heart is not only concerned with its interior world. As mentioned, this field reaches far beyond the body, and it contains within it, the information about our  health, wellbeing, emotions, attitudes, feelings and intentions - communicating them to the external world through electromagnetic waves and frequencies which can be detected by other people, along with the more than human world, and can affect others mental and emotional states, their feelings of safety or connection. For our field is full of stories that invisibly ignite feelings within others.

Our heart's nervous system is attuned to other fields and receives information in a very real, energetic, magnetic form of communication all the time, it can not be turned off.

“there are no secrets, only things we do not see” - Stephen Harrod Buhner

Our world is full of the invisible and the felt, the language that is far older than words.

And it is not just people who have this field of information surrounding them, biophysics has shown that all living organisms are permeated and surrounded by an electromagnetic field- two leggeds, the rooted, the winged, the furred, the tiny and of course the earth itself, and they use each other as methods of understanding. Reading it to find prey, food, mates, allies and the right places to be.

Migratory eels, during their long migration, read the estuary’s unique magnetic map to navigate upstream. Migrating birds not only use celestial cues to navigate, they also detect the magnetic field generated by the Earth, using it to determine their position and direction. Each individual on earth is connected to a global information field.

Our fields are the same shape and type of the earths, unsurprisingly, as we are just an example of a general condition. The north and the South Pole are the two ends of the spine and like the heart, the earths magnetic field is a constantly shifting field.

In a way, we are all electric fields which holds our atoms together, communicating to our heart internally and externally, and using other electric fields to understand more about our surroundings and how safe, inspiring, interesting, needed or dangerous a potential connection to a place, person or more than human being could be for us, or how well we are within ourselves.

“We’re all like little cells in the bigger Earth brain—sharing information at a subtle, unseen level that exists between all living systems, not just humans, but animals, trees, and so on” - Dr. Halberg

We are immersed in Dynamic and animated fields of communication, generated by the living intelligent life forms with which we are kin. These fields in which we wander through are infused with meaning. Flowing from and to us, from the moment the cells of our bodies self organize into the unique identities that we know as ourselves.

Lisa Avnet in Pittsfield, MA

We feel this touch of the world upon us, and those millions of touches hold within them specific meanings, delivered to us from the heart of the world and the heart of the living beings with which we inhabit the world with.

This interchange, if we learn to take notice, changes the quality of our lives and reminds us that we are never alone. We are one organism among many, one ensouled form among a multitude.

The Greeks had a word for the hearts ability to perceive meaning from the world - Aisthesis.

“the organ of aisthesis is the heart; passages from all the sense organs run to it, there the soul is set on fire” - James Hillman

Aisthesis denotes the moment in which a flow of life force, imbued with communications, moves from one living organism to another. The word literally means “to breathe in” It is a taking in of the world, a taking in of soulful communications that arise from the living phenomena in that world. Something from outside enters us, something with impact, something that causes an immediate inspiration. Often overlooked, is the crucial understanding that at the same time, the world takes us in too, we too are breathed in.  When we experience this, we experience that we are not alone in the world.

The detected field of another, has the same impact on the cortical function as regular sensory intake does. This heart perception through our electromagnetic field, is often called our sixth sense. We work with our heart fields every day of our lives but most of us in the modern western culture have just become unconscious of it.

Our senses, along with our heart perception tell us about the world around us and the world inside of us. They are there to guide us, keep us safe, look after us and help us to live a meaningful life.

But, as is so often within a persons life, whether through education, social conditioning, peers, parenting, trauma, abuse and so on, we are led far far away from it.

Told to put our own feeling sense, our own sensory input away in order to follow another’s. We are often shown what we should like, how we should be, how the world is, the life we should follow, the achievements we should go for and the body we should have, rather than following our own map, stories and knowing.

And so, slowly and over time, we put our inner feelings aside, we squash the heart of ourselves and gaslight our own emotions.

We no longer hear our guide, our compass or our truth and we may wonder why we keep ending up in places, or with people or in moments that do not serve us.

And so, I decided a few years ago, inspired by these studies, to no longer gaslight the heart of me. I decided to try each day, to remember and tap into the wisdom and knowing that is held within. It is a slow process, for it’s years of training to undo, but each year, I have shed a little more concrete and each year my life changes for the better.

There is more to just listening or I should say, feeling the heart I have realised. It is feeling it and taking the appropriate action needed. Rather than feeling it, and still not letting it guide me.

It is a process, a journey. A hard and tricky one, but amazing and empowering.

Want to get started strengthening your connection to your heart wisdom?  Book now.

I Will No Longer Gaslight My Heart, Lisa Avnet in Pittsfield, MA