Each world—the outer and the inner—has a center.
The center is where our experience of life comes together.
Each center regulates how consciousness and the body work together.
The body links us to the outer world around us.
Consciousness links us to an intangible universal reality.
Our two centers bring life together in two dramatically different ways.
Our experience of life is oriented around two distinct centers
The first center is the Head Center. This center orients our life in the outer world. This center relies on the brain/mind to guide our life in the outer world around us.
The second center is the Heart Center. It orients our life in the inner world. This center relies on heart/feeling to guide our life in the inner world.
These two centers were intended to balance and augment one another. The head center gives us steadiness in our dealings in the outer world. The heart center gives us emotional strength and compassion in our inner world. Together they give us strength and balance to navigate smoothly through the uncertainties of life.
If the head center is not working, we become insecure; if the heart center is not working, we become cold and distant. The strengths of each center compensate for the weaknesses of the opposite center. Together the two centers enable us to experience life to the fullest extent possible.
The body gives us objectivity—the ability to perceive and interact with an outer world around us. Consciousness gives us subjectivity—the ability to feel an inner world within us. It also enables us to open ourselves to receiving the transcendent reality that is always around us.
Over the centuries these two centers have grown apart and are now out of balance with one another. The Head center has come to take on the weight of our entire life. Science has decreed that reality is limited to the outer world alone. There is nothing of substance and no reality in our inner world.
We are like a ship that is listing badly to one side; we need to right this ship so that we can sail forward smoothly and effectively.
How do the centers work?
Each center is a hub which coordinates and integrates different functions for consciousness and the body. Each hub has a physical presence in the body (the head, the heart) and each hub has a corresponding presence within consciousness. These hubs are axes which coalesce different aspects of the body with their corresponding counterparts within consciousness.
In the head center, consciousness responds to signals from the body that the body has some need that is not being met. Consciousness redirects thoughts and emotions towards the area of unmet need. If we are hungry our brain tells us to look for food. If we have to go to the bathroom, the brain tells us to look for a restroom.
This process of directing attention to unmet needs begins with physical needs in the body, but then works outwards to unmet psychology and emotional needs.
In the heart center the heart generates feeling which is then recognized by the brain and is associated with thoughts and perceptions which is being generated by the head center. The process also works in reverse. The head center can generate thoughts and perceptions which in turn stimulate the heart center to evoke feeling that is associated with those spedific thought and perceptions. The feeling that is associated with thought and perceptions broadens the overall gestalt of life;
This is what is missing in our disconnect from the inner world. The feeling dimension to life is lacking. In some people it is present but not in a way that can be harmonized with the corresponding experience in the head center.
We were intended to experience both centers together in a harmonious wholeness of life. This has not happened. The result is a human civilization which is seriously out of balance.
How does the center differ from the brain? The brain is part of the body. The body is part of the material world. The brain is a key element of the head center. But the head center is more than the brain. The head center also comprises consciousness. It is a sub-set of our over consciousness which works hand-in-hand with the brain to give us a coherent frame of reference for understanding our outer life. There is more to the head center than just the brain; there is more to the brain than just the head center. The head center is clearly a major function within both the head and with the field of human
The Head Center organizes our consciousness of the outer world
When we do not have access to the Heart Center, we become overly preoccupied with the body. The body is finite. It has a beginning and an end. The head center is focused on this reality as well. We identify with the body as the sum total of who we are. We believe that we, like the body, only live once. We have one shot at life and then it is over. Nothing remains. The self-preservation needs of the body become projected onto our life as a whole.
This singular focus on the body needs to be balanced by another perspective. This other perspective is offered by the heart center. If the heart center is not engaged and if only the head center is operational, then our experience of life becomes distorted. Our life becomes absorbed by our separation from others and our ambivalence about relationships.
The 2020 pandemic is a case in point. Despite being the richest and most powerful nation in the world, the United States was often unable to meet the needs of its people. Chaos and uncertainty persisted. This has become a dramatic example of what happens when our head centers are unable to meet all our needs. If we as a culture were more attuned to our inner world, we would have had the resources of the Heart Center to balance the concerns of the head.
Coherence in our experience of our outer life
Coherence has to do with how our experience of life holds together. Our time lived in the outer world has given us ideas about how the outer world operates. We are familiar with the lay of the land. We know where the roads go. We know where we can find water. We know where to find food.
If we have lived one place for a long period of time, we will have memories stored up of things that happened here. We remember where we went to school. We remember kids that we met. We remember our first date, our first kiss, when we fell in love. Our memories and our knowledge of the terrain infuse our physical surroundings with a special kind of meaning. This land helps to define who we are.
Coherence is a kind of connectedness to the outer world around us. The more personal experience we have in a certain place the more coherence that place has for us. Our conscious mind contains memories, emotions, and beliefs that we relate to world that we live in.
When we are in an unfamiliar part of the world, we usually feel a bit more tentative in moving around. Our coherence is weaker and we feel less sure of ourself. Compare this with moving around your home town. The more we know about a place the stronger our coherence with the outer is.
Our ability to correctly anticipate the nature of a new environment is the result of coherence in our consciousness, Coherence takes what we know, what we have experienced in the past, and what we are now experiencing in the outer world around us, and pulls these all together into a context for understanding our current situation. This coherence includes the people we are with, what we know about then, the history we have had with them, and the reasons why we are interacting with them at this present moment.
Something has to pull all of this environmental data into a single context and to shape it in such a way that we make sense out of our experience in the moment, we need the ability to move forward in a meaningful way. Insanity is the inability to make any sense out of our experience of life. Coherence gives us sanity. We become disoriented when we have no coherent framework to hold our experience of life together.
Our head center works well for most of us in orienting us to new and unfamiliar experiences in the outer world. Unfortunately, most of us have not learned how to work with the heart center in a similar fashion.
The head center creates coherence in our outer world, the heart center creates coherence in the inner world.
The ways these two centers work do not parallel one another. The mind is mostly focused on things. We have lots of ideas and lots of concepts about things. Things reflect the material world and the mind is focused on the material world. It all begins with the fact that the mind has to help the body to take care of itself.
The head center also engages with concepts. Concepts are mental ways to think about things. Evolution is a concept about how things have changed over long periods of time. Concepts help us to better understand things. Science is the study of material reality. Science has many ideas, but most of these ideas exist within the context of materialism, or the belief that only matter is real.
The mind can certainly think about non-material things. It can think about love. It can think about hope. It can think about joy. But the mind can only deal with these as abstractions. The mind cannot feel.
Feeling is the domain of the heart center. Feeling is to the heart what thinking is to mind. It is as if the two centers speak two different languages.
When we speak about feeling we are not referring to emotions. We are speaking about intuition. We are talking about a form of knowing that by-passes the mind and goes directly to the heart. Intuition is sometimes referred to as direct knowing because it avoids the involvement of the brain.
The head center is characterized by focus, action, and intention. The head center often operates as an agent of will. The head center enables us to assess our situation, analyze what is needed, set goals, determine a course of action, which is then followed by action in the body.
The heart center, by contrast, remains still, open and receptive. It invites the unknown to enter in and make itself known. The heart center recognizes that there is far more to the experience of life than what we take in through our 5 senses. We have to open up our intuitive senses and allow the universe to come to us.
Carl Jung referred to these as the masculine and feminine functions of consciousness: the thrusting action of masculinity and the receptrive openness of femininity. Jung stressed that we need both and they need to be balanced. But we know that these are not balanced in our collective consciousness.
The Heart Center organizes our consciousness of the inner world.
The head center is focused on the needs of the body. The heart center is focused on the needs of humanity. The heart’s awareness goes far beyond the limits of the body. It is able to put our individual life into a much broader perspective than our head center can understand. The consciousness of the heart is different than the consciousness of the head. The head is focused on a single life of one specific body. This concern can broaden to include the safety of our loved ones and even our neighbors. But it becomes impersonal when it extends beyond the people we know. The consciousness of the heart center experiences a reality that is as vast as the entire universe. It recognizes that all life is an expression of the one universal love which is living through each of us. The needs of the individual are important; the needs of humanity are equally important but in a very different way.
The Head center focuses on the needs of the body; the heart center focuses on of needs of all life itself. It is not just a matter of taking our individual needs and multiplying them by the total number of people alive. There is a collective identity along with our individual identity. This collective identity used to be stronger, but the emphasis over the last 40 years on individual rights and freedom has weakened our collective identity. We are seeing how this is playing out on the world’s stage today. Today many people insist that they are entitled to their own personal reality. They owe no allegiance or responsibility to society as a whole.
Feeling is the counterpoint to thinking. Thinking is the activity of the mind; feeling is the activity of the heart.
These two centers are designed to work in tandem with one another. But we do not function this way in our culture. Our society is uneasy with the heart. Our culture is very ambivalent about it. Instinctively we know it is important. But we are uneasy about the prospect of letting our emotions run free. Emotions can be volatile and we are nit always sure we can handle them. It is much better to rely on reason and objectivity.
The Head Thinks, The Heart Feels
The feeling in the heart center is the counterpart to thinking in the head center. Embodied consciousness working with the brain creates the mind. The mind enables us to think about and analyze our life in the outer world.
Thinking is the currency of the mind. The mind enables us to think. Without thinking the mind might not exist. It is second nature to us to think about our life and to use our thinking to solve the problems we encounter.
Feeling is the currency of the heart. We know about this world because we feel it within ourself. We feel it in the heart. We feel the movement that arises up from the deep inner world and which directs us to focus attention on something which needs our involvement.
Carl Jung was one of the first of modern day thinkers to contrast the approaches of thinking and feeling. In his article on personality functions, he described how thinking and feeling are two separate and different ways that we can process information that comes to us from the outside world.
Thinking is the process of using embodied consciousness and the mind to analyze the situation and to try to understand our situation. It also comes up with solutions to problems that we face.
Feeling for Jung was not as clearly explained as thinking was. He separated intuition from feeling and spoke about them separately. Intuition was a way in which we receive direct learning. That is, new ideas or solutions to a problem just popped into our mind fully formed. Jung contrasted this with sensation, which was taking information in from the outer world through our 5 senses.
Think and feeling for Jung were two different ways to process the information which we took in. We could think about information with our mind and try to reach conclusions. Or we could developing feelings about the information we took in. To Jung, feeling was a process of deciding how the information you took in was personally relevant to you. What value or personal importance do you place on this. Thinking was rational and analytical. Feeling was a personalized way of processing information.
Feeling is holding oneself in a state of constant readiness to receive from the outer and inner worlds. It is receiving. It takes in. Jung called this the feminine function. It is staying open and still at the core to enable you to be sensitive enough to feel the subtle movement of energy move through your consciousness.
Feeling requires that we be still and quiet on the inside. We are unaware of feeling when our inner world is entangled in unresolved emotions or limiting personal beliefs.
Feeling requires that our inner world be stable. It requires our inner world to be anchored and secure. If we are adrift, then we will be feeling the emotions that come from this insecure position.