I’d like to share with you some thoughts about the Heart in particular and the functioning of our body in general through the words of Dr Silvia Di Luzio, Senior Research Assistant and Clinical Cardiologist at the Northwestern University of Chicago.
(The extract that follows comes from her book The heart is a Door)
How to discover life’s poetry through science
“You won’t hear talk about feelings, emotions or love. Instead, I’ll try to bring you into a new dimension that unites science and spirituality by passing through the poetry of life.“
We often hear the Heart defined as a pump. There’s nothing worse than this description, in my view as a cardiologist, because the heart holds within itself the secret of life.
I can promise you that seeing a pulsing heart when the fetus is just two millimeters long, a few days after fecundation, is something wonderful.
Il Cuore è il primo organo che si forma nel momento in cui siamo concepiti: il cervello in effetti si sviluppa durante i nove mesi di gravidanza ma comincia ad assumere la sua struttura complessa dalla nascita in poi grazie a tutti gli stimoli sensoriali esterni.
The heart is the first organ that forms when we are conceived. The brain develops during the nine months of pregnancy but it begins to take on its complex structure from birth onwards thanks to the external sensory stimuli it receives.
The heart is also the last organ to close down when life reaches its end.
We’ve seen so many courageous hearts battle on for days or weeks following brain death!
This faithful, untiring companion works unceasingly for us. It is certainly like a pump because it distributes blood throughout the body – BUT IT IS MUCH MORE.
The heart takes part in our joys and sufferings. We often have patients in Intensive Care who have suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after a loss of someone important. The popular sating about ‘death through heartbreak’ is not so wrong, but this couldn’t happen if the heart were just a pump.
The Heart is a generous and kindly organ. When the body asks for more blood during an increase in work, for example, or because it is running, the heart beats faster to ensure the oxygen needs of the whole body. In cases of emergency or extreme need the heart can also drastically reduce the flow of blood to the peripheral muscles or tissues to direct it towards the so-called ‘noble’ organs – the kidneys, brain and liver. These cannot be allowed to ‘suffer’ without threatening the survival of the individual.
All of us know the commandment: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR LIKE YOURSELF’ but we have great difficulty applying that commandment in everyday life, either because we are egoists or because it is sometimes easier to forget ourselves to love and take care of those who are dear to us.
The heart, then, is a living example of perfect balance: why is that?
The heart sends oxygenated blood from the lungs, through the aorta, through the whole organism. The best blood, however, the first to be pushed out from the heart, comes back to it through the coronary.
The great lesson of the heart
We learn the lesson of the Heart. We have to remain well ourselves in order to help others and to perform our own work to the best. This is not egoism at all. Often, in fact, renouncing for ourselves may not be a sign of goodness so much as the need for recognition and affection. These, unhappily, do not take us very far.
It’s like being in a plane when they tell you to put on the oxygen mask first and then to help someone else, even if that other person is your own small child. If you lose consciousness you can’t help your child and he may be in danger.
The same function of the heart depends on its being sufficiently generous to send blood to all the other organs otherwise you couldn’t survive for long!
The lesson of our marvelous body is nothing less than harmony, collaboration and respect for the established roles. Without these roles there would be fatal imbalance.
The best functioning society is that of a healthy human organism where billions of cells live together, multiply and work for a single purpose. Let’s not forget that, they’re working for our survival! Our body is a sacred place and the Heart is its temple.
I like to think of life as an opportunity to learn a lesson:
We are all born from everything and we all return to everything, but in the meanwhile we’re given the chance to live, to make choices. We re often guided by our brains that distinguish us, that make us unique and that give us the chance to be different from animals. I see the brain as free choice.
What could a brain without a heart possibly achieve?
When we hear someone described as being ‘without a heart’ our reaction is almost one of horror!
Our reaction to the ‘man without a brain’ would be sympathy.
Even a heart without a brain wouldn’t get very far. Giving love indiscriminately does not lead to anything. Let’s remember Jesus who threw the moneylenders out of the temple. Those who are unworthy cannot ‘trample’ on your heart if they don’t respect it.
I believe, then, that the answer to life has to be found in harmony, in collaboration and the choices of love that have to be made with awareness and consciousness: the perfect union of heart and brain.
‘Thank you for having spent some of your time on this voyage beyond time through the mysteries of life.’ Dr. Silvia Di Luzio (Taken from The heart is a Door)
Discover on Amazon Dr. Silvia Di Luzio’s book, The heart is a Door and Gianni Ferrario’s Ridere di cuore. Il potere terapeutico della risata!
To explore this subject further you will find a short speech by Dr. Di Luzio on the body and the heart.