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For many modern people, it’s difficult to understand why you would love from the heart, when we are taught from early childhood that the brain is where our essence seems to reside. There are a few reasons why it makes sense to love from the heart, both historical and practical.
As with many of our common beliefs, a better understanding of why we love from the heart requires looking far back in history to our ancestors in Ancient Greece. They believed that the heart was the seat of everything, in much the same way we believe our brain is the seat of everything about us. Aristotle taught that the heart controlled all reason, our emotion, and even our day to day thoughts. So for an ancient Greek like Aristotle, it would only make sense to love from the heart. Loving from the brain for him would have felt much like loving from the kidneys might to us.
From Aristotle, the teaching of the heart as the place of our emotions passed on the Romans. The physician Galen, who laid the groundwork for a great deal of later medicine in the West, had an entire theory of a circulatory system. In this theory, the heart was said to be where emotions took place, while rational thought took place in the brain, and passions originated in the liver.
The Egyptians also placed a great deal of importance on the heart as an organ, and many of them likely would also have understood what it was to love from the heart. In Egyptian mythology, the heart was said to contain some vital essence of the soul, such that at death it was weighed against a feather to decide if a person would go on to paradise.
We have been taught so strongly that the brain is where everything about us takes place, that it’s difficult to imagine, in a literal sense, love from the heart. But when we think about it, most of our emotions are associated with our other organs in common speech. We get butterflies in our stomach when we’re nervous, feel a sense of something in our gut, and deep pain wrenches our hearts from our breasts. This all makes sense, if you look a bit more deeply at physiological responses to emotion, and the fact that we feel them most acutely in organs other than our brains.
Indeed, to understand love from the heart, one need look no further than very basic physiology that most of us have likely experienced personally, and which the Greeks themselves likely based their own beliefs on. The state of excitement, a state definitely connected to both love and sexual attraction, is felt first and foremost in the heart. As the body prepares for something exciting, the heart rate increases to increase blood flow throughout the body. The racing of the heart, more than any thoughts that might cross through the brain, or rumbling in the stomach, is undoubtedly what has forever associated that organ as the organ of love.
Perfect! This question literally just popped in my head and *viola* an answer. Thank you for posting.