Irene, you are considered as a “heart expert”. Can you tell us why you consider “the heart” so important? Is this significance originated only from a biological perspective?
Thank you George for this interview. It gives me great pleasure to chat here with you and inform the readers about my experience, my life, my work.
In order to explain the importance of the heart I must start from my past and why I got to this interest in the first place. I come from the north west part of Italy close to the Alps. My upbringing had lots of joys coming from beautiful landscapes and plenty of nature. At the same time there were challenges due to some dysfunctionalities in my family dynamics.
I came to this world as a very happy child and at the same time extremely sensitive. This brought me from early times to explore the self. I remember I was 13/14 and I was looking for books of self-discovery and psychology to understand better the ‘inner world and my emotions’.
It would have been great to know at the time only a little bit of the information I have now to regulate emotions and regulate “the Heart Rhythm” but I guess this is how life goes; we learn and develop through experience.
Many times in my life since very young I have had strong feelings in my chest moving me to do something even if the rational mind would say not to do it because it was too risky, too dangerous act. And that is how I made the biggest decisions of my life, like moving to the UK and many others. I later came to discover that the feeling in my chest was coming from the heart that was sending me signals and information of intuition that I could not disregard.
So for me the heart is so important because first of all it has been ‘my inner guide’ since I was very young and then later on I came to discover the science behind it that made perfect sense. This made me understand even more the importance of leading from the heart and teaching the work I teach.
I have been coaching individuals and groups in leading and living from the heart for the past 11 years of my life and I do what I do because I believe it is important to recognise that intuition comes from the heart and that intuition is very right. The heart is also the first organ of the fetus forming in the womb after conception. Only later on comes the brain. The heart is also the last organ to switch off at the time of death. So I wonder why we are not listening to such relevant parts of ourselves.
Sometimes we think that the heart is ‘simply that organ connected’ to love and if something goes wrong with love we just don’t listen to the heart anymore causing ourselves much pain within. There is much more to the heart than just being there to pump blood around the body and keeping us alive. The question to all is: Are we ready to listen to it and use the heart for our wellbeing?
Brain or heart? Are these two somehow interconnected or is it simply a question of either/or?
Well as I always say in my workshops it is not a matter of choosing one and leaving the other one behind. Both of these important organs are in our body and both of them must be acknowledged and used for our highest good. However, at some point we make a choice. Do we follow our heart, its creativity, its passion and its intuition? Or we choose our brain, its logic and rationality? As you can see both of them are important but then it all depends on what an individual defines as a fundamental principle of life.
For me my choice is to always follow my heart, the intuition coming from my heart and the joy of my heart that I combine with the structure, the logic of the brain but my creativity, my dreaming comes from my heart and that I would never give it up. The heart contains around 40,000 neurons, the same neurons as we have in the brain, that form what we call the ‘Little brain of the heart’ by the Institute of HeartMath.
The heart does not need any impulse coming from the brain to beat, to function, to pump but it is auto rhythmic, it produces its own pulses through electrochemical stimulation. From the heart there are neural pathways connecting the heart to the brain and vice versa, therefore the two are interconnected and communicate all the time. According to studies coming from the HeartMath Institute 80% of the information travels from the heart to the brain instead of the other way around, meaning that every time that the heart beats it informs the brain and all its centers in a specific way.
When we feel emotions like sadness, rage, disappointment, stress, the heart will produce a heart rhythm called Incoherent and the Thalamus in the brain will receive this stimulus and then will transmit to the rest of the brain this incoherence. As we can expect from the cortex, the decision making center will then make decisions in our lives that result in being incoherent.
On the other hand, if we feel feelings of Joy, peace, calmness, appreciation the heart will beat in a completely different way, in a coherent way and it will inform the brain with coherence and as a consequence our cortex will make coherent decision, and we also would not be in fight, fly, freeze mode so it is indeed very important to pay attention to the way our heart beats and that is dictated by our emotions.
In my work it is important to support clients in switching from an emotional state of challenge to a feeling state of balance, peace, calmness so that we can operate in life grounded, centred and also by retaining our strength instead of draining energy.
How can perceiving through the heart help in these difficult times we are going through?
As you can see George right now the world is in chaos and it is very difficult to tell people to calm down especially because the majority of the world does not know how to calm down. As children, many grew up without understanding emotions and what to do with them. So it is very tricky at this time to have a basic understanding that regulating emotions and staying centered in the heart is a very helpful way to face the world challenges we are living. So the way to do this is to calm the emotions down and come back to the center for example through the breath. This is very helpful to calming the emotion to begin to build resilience and to become more coherent.
How can I practically be trained to “follow my heart” and live through the heart? Are there any tips you could give us?
For those who are interested in developing the knowledge of living and leading from the heart, tapping into its intuition and live from a space of joy, there are different options
But first of all I wish to give a little tip to help people, as mentioned here above. You can actually do this with open or closed eyes and by placing your hand (if you wish) on your heart (this could help you stay more connected to this space). Then you see and feel your breath going in and out of your heart area where your head is placed and all you do is this. Try for 5 minutes (or as long as you like) staying centered on this and watch what happens to your body, to your mind and to your emotions. You can do it even before bedtime, it would help you to rest better at night.
As per learning more, I run classes and coaching sessions for clients to learn and embody leading and living from the heart. In my classes people are taught techniques both of Heart-Math and Imagery and Dreaming to regulate emotions and center in the heart.
Tell us about your relationship and work with the two institutions of “HeartMath” and “School of Images”
Both HQ of these institutions are located in the United States and I have been collaborating with them since 2014. I am a certified coach and trainer for the HeartMath Institute and Director for the School of Images UK and Italy.
HeartMath studies the science of the heart and created specific techniques and technologies to help people living in the heart and staying centered in a space of coherence.
The School of Images teaches the Power of Imagination and Dreams. What do we do with imagination, where does it come from and how can we best work with our night dreams to stay centered in our lives and live our full potential? Again here with the School of Images we have plenty of techniques to help regulate emotions through the use of imagination so that we can find inner calmness and we can recentre ourselves and hear our true voice of the heart.
Another important work I teach through the School of Images is DreamOpening™. This is a rather amazing work that connects us to the deepest messages of our subconscious. Dreams will always reveal our truth about ourselves and will reveal those messages we are not able to see and know during our daily routines. DreamOpening™ teaches to open the dream, give the revelation to the Dreamer and show the direction the Dreamer is going. The particularity of this very work, unlike many other works with dreams, is that we correct the Dreams with the use of imagination where necessary. This process helps the individual to centre in its truth and to follow the path that is empowering and in truth for their work and life