What is The Heart
The heart keeps us alive. The heart drives us.
The word Heart most likely stems the ancient Hebrew the word lev. This would make the word Heart as old as, or likely to be even older than, the book of Genesis (and let’s face it…that is old).
Lev has a variety of meanings and can mean different things in different contexts. In the Old Testament book of Job it is used to reference the physical organ. In other parts of the Old Testament it is used to reference the seat of vitality (Ps 22.26); and reaches to your very life (Je 418); as well as your inner self and the seat of feelings and impulses (Genesis 6:6). ‘Heart’ can also have a cerebral and conscious element, for instance to have kept in someone’s mind (Genesis 8.21) and conscience but more often ‘heart’ is used to reference deeper states of mind, character, disposition, inclination, loyalty, or concern (2 Samuel 15:13). Such cognitive states might also include motivational inclinations or ‘will’ (1 Samuel 17.32) or intention and purpose (Exodus 35:21). Typically in the Hebrew bible it comes with the adjectives of “soft” or “hard” and these words give us the idea that the heart is something that can be deeply connected with God or others, or defiantly disconnected from God or others.
I use a definition of ‘heart’ that draws from ancient roots, but has a contemporary twist. It is the seat of our deeply held personal truths, our uniqueness and our significance. Psychologically it incorporates three of our most important needs:
In its old English form and its Hebrew form the word “heart” has meant both the organ that circulates the blood and the bottom line origin of feelings and thoughts. It is the truth about oneself. The physical definition then becomes a good metaphor for psychological purposes. The heart keeps us alive. The heart drives us. It reveals our deepest commitments. The heart points us towards our life direction and reflects our morals. What is on our heart defines us and gives us value and purpose.
William Shakespeare wrote in Henry V, “but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly” (Henry V 5.2 154). The Bard expresses the notion that to have a full heart is to have direction and energy, it is to ‘see’ meaning and purpose in life.
In the present day we of course use the two different senses of the word (biological and psychological) frequently. We manage to use the different meanings with ease and we let the context of the word help create the meaning of it.
When we observe its use in society we see it is high in psychological utility. A ‘heart broken’ girl whose boyfriend has run off with another girl, has found a shorthand way of saying “This incident has left me feeling devalued, directionless and lifeless”. Having a “heart to heart” means having a deep and connected conversation about something of substance and interacting with the substance of the other person. Having a “change of heart” means having not only a change of mind, but a change of direction. People who are ‘heartless’ are those who don’t care, and are disconnected.
If you do not keep your Heart in Mind, you will remain unaware of whether your psychological needs are getting met. That being the case, you may not be nourished and because you are not nourished, you will not prosper.
Heart in Mind
6/3 Days Road
Grange Qld, 4051
Phone: 07 3856 4488
Fax: 07 3356 3184