Throughout the centuries, and across various cultures, a belief has emerged that the quality of our life can be determined by how much we are driven by fear, and how much we are driven by love. There are countless spiritual explanations of this, and with humanity’s advanced grasp of medicine there are now compelling scientific models that support this belief as well.
Bringing attention to our emotions and being able to manage them, especially in response to stressful situations, has a direct, positive effect on our energy, body, and cognitive abilities. Remaining unaware of our emotions and reacting to situations from unconscious habits or past pain jeopardizes our physical and mental health. The following resources represent three ways to explore the fear/love phenomenon – through spiritual philosophy, cardiology, and neuroscience. Pick one that speaks to you, or take time to engage with all of them to see if raising your awareness of it can make a difference for you.
If you like mindfulness, meditation, heart/mind/body connection, eastern spiritual traditions, and learning how to live a life with purpose and meaning, this one’s for you.
The Beautiful State – podcast, 46 minute duration
In this podcast, philosopher and author Preethaji explains how our consciousness is fueled by two states: The Beautiful State, which is full of joy, calm, love, peace, understanding, and connection; and The Suffering State, which is full of stress, anger, fear, frustration, loneliness, and insecurity. The state you are nurturing sets the foundation on which your life is built. Preethaji gives many practical examples of why living in the Beautiful State makes you a better person, partner, parent, and leader. She also talks about how to live in the Beautiful State, sharing the Four Sacred Secrets (from her book of the same name) that guide you toward it and keep you in it.
If you like hard, scientific proof and are interested in learning how our metaphorical heart (the seat of emotions) has a tangible impact on our physical heart, check out this TEDTalk by cardiologist and celebrated author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar (video and transcript in link).
How Your Emotions Change the Shape of Your Heart – video, 16 minute duration
In it, he draws upon years of experience from his own medical practice and cites numerous case studies that prove that our emotions actually dictate how our heart looks and performs. He explains how experiencing unmanaged fear and grief can cause cardiac injury, and how increasing our psychological health can trigger cardiac healing.
If you like intuitive, research-y explanations of how different parts of the brain process emotional responses and cognitive thinking, how the release of Cortisol (stress) and Oxytocin (social connection) hormones affect us, and how we can retrain neural patterns that once protected us but no longer serve us – start here.
How to Regulate Your Body’s Fear or Love Response to Make Conscious Changes to Your Brain, Part 3 – article, 5 minute read
This is part three of Dr. Athena Staik’s series on neuroscience and emotions, it contains links to parts 1 and 2 if you want to dive deeper. In this article she explains how the brain is triggered into a fight-or-flight response when it senses emotional or physical danger. This leads us to act in ways that keep us isolated and disconnected, resulting in higher levels of stress and anxiety. When we receive signals that we are emotionally and physically safe, and can trust our environment our brain kicks into love, learning, and connection mode. From there we experience more calm and authentic joy. She offers some tips on how to manage these inner processes and shape our responses so we live more intentionally from a place of safety, connection, and love.
Our emotions, heart, and mind are connected in tangible, mysterious ways. Increasing our understanding of their effect on one another can inform our efforts to leading purposeful, healthy lives. These messages about the power of love and fear have been out there for ages, and come in many shapes and forms. Find the ones you connect to, and find the key to cultivating a life you’ll love to live.