This, I’m guessing, is not news to you: When your heart breaks, you actually feel the pain in your chest. And when you are in love, your heart swells, pounds, aches…to burst—the physical sensation is acute. And when you’re nervous or excited or you just have a ‘feeling’ about something…you actually ‘feel it’ in your gut. And while any of those (and any number of other) scenarios are happening, your head churns—analyzing, dissecting, scrutinizing, breaking it down.
This, however might be news to you: Apparently, the heart has its own independent nervous system with at least forty thousand cells that are the same as the ones found in parts of the brain. (Though I think I’ve met a few people with far less.) And the gut has a brain, known as the enteric nervous system (ENS), that lives in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.
Yes, people, we have three brains.
A few years ago, I heard a lecture about this phenomenon. And I have to say, it blew my mind a little. Because, for the most part, I’d been encouraged to think things through logically (follow your head) and not rely so much on my feelings (not your heart). I’d rarely followed that advice, mind you (I think Cancers are incapable)—but now I was I learning that the source of these irresistible, and often overpowering, feelings of the heart and the gut are actually of the brain.
And while my brain was a little taken aback by the competition and the being-put-in-its-place-ness of this information, my heart and my gut sounded off a loud, ‘ah HA!’ They knew they’d been right and worthy and valuable all along. Of course.
Using all three brains
When we write, or create in any way, we access all three points. Though some more than others, right? It’s clear to me when I’m writing primarily with my head as opposed to my heart or as opposed to my gut—I can see pretty clearly how that collaborative scale is tips. Can you?
Because they’re all necessary. In their own ways, the head, heart and gut work together to help us birth ideas and form words. Perhaps our head brain gives us organization, spelling and analysis. Our heart brain coats and stuffs our writing with feeling and consciousness. And our gut brain gives us drive and serves as a compass, pointing us in the direction we need to go.
And so it is that our readers don’t just read our words. But they feel them too. We make them cry and fume and crack up. And we guide them to motivation and change, deep realization and action.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but I’m very aware of how often I use the word ‘and’. I start sentences and paragraphs with it all the time, regardless of whether it’s ‘right’ or not. I pop it in often when I write here on this blog. Sometimes, my head brain wants me to simmer down and chides me for this conjunctive enthusiasm—but my heart brain tells me, passionately, that it feels right to use it and my gut brain tells me, pointedly, to go with it.
It’s how I talk, it’s how I write and, I think, it’s how I connect my three brains: head and heart and gut.
Image credit: helgasm