“Two souls with but a single thought,
two hearts that beat as one”
Connection is central to who we are. It returns us to our truest state of being and raises us to the highest levels of joy. In fact, I would argue that the very essence of the human spirit is to embrace the heartfelt and loving connections that we make with each other and with the world around us. And yet, at times, creating and maintaining these connections can feel impossible; the very thing that we yearn for can seem beyond our reach. This book explains why this is and offers a simple yet profound solution to the challenge of finding happiness and meaning in life.
You may well be thinking, “I’ve heard all this before”, and are wondering what’s new in this book? It is true that ideas about the importance of human connection have been around for millennia, and that mystics and sages have long spoken of these things, but thanks to the availability of modern technology, we can now confirm them scientifically. I will be showing you powerful evidence that your deep urge to connect with other people and the natural world is hard-wired into you through your heart. I have spent the last decade of my life researching the power of heart-connection in relationships and made some astonishing discoveries that demonstrate that we can communicate energetically with the people we love, whether we are close to them or separated by a large distance. I believe that these ground-breaking discoveries will transform our understanding of psychology, human communications, and relationship dynamics. I want to show you how to harness this knowledge so you can improve your relationships in a way that brings you deep and lasting happiness.
The central theme of this book is to explain how your self-beliefs have a profound and far-reaching impact on your life experiences. You will learn how easy it is to move away from the belief that you are connected to the people and world around you and instead take on a belief in being separate and isolated. I will explain how this disconnects you from your heart which in turn creates a variety of needs and emotional issues that severely limits the quality of your relationships. Appreciating how a belief in separation underlies the vast majority of negative human attitudes and behaviours will help you to relate better with the people around you, even if they are acting in ways that you find challenging.
Thankfully, there is a way to reconnect in any relationship through the giving of unconditional love. I will describe how this gift is focused on your heart and show you how you can use it to solve any emotional or relationship problem that you might be facing. Using examples from the heart-connection research, I will show you how to step into the incredible power of your heart and use this to positively influence and strengthen all your relationships whether they are with a romantic partner, family member, friend or a colleague at work.
I will describe how the closing of our hearts, and the often-inadvertent denial of our connectedness, plays out at various scales of relationship, ranging from the interpersonal, to those we have in groups and teams and even nations. On a global scale, I will explore how a collective disconnection from our hearts leads to political and economic problems, conflict and a destruction of the natural environment. I will then suggest how we might move forward as a species in a way that better honours our true heart-centred nature. By embracing a more authentic understanding of love and connectedness, I will describe how we can bring people together with greater cooperation and harmony, in a way that protects and sustains the environment.
The process I will be taking you through, of opening your heart and revealing your connectedness, is an exploration of who you truly are. Such a deep enquiry will ask some of the bigger and more profound questions about life and your part in it and will lead naturally towards a consideration of spirituality. Using the principles of heart-connection, I will introduce you to a way of embracing your spirituality that is grounded in scientific and experiential evidence. I am not going to offer you lots of arm-waving philosophy or theology, instead I am going to describe an approach to personal and spiritual growth that is both practical and accessible. This will enable you to live in the most authentic way possible and I hope will allow you to discover spiritual fulfilment and meaning.
As you open your heart, become more present and connect within your relationships, you will find yourself becoming more creative, visionary and trusting in the power of love to solve any problem that you might face. You will find yourself becoming a heart-centred leader and realise that you can apply the principles that I am describing in this book to your closest interpersonal relationships as well as those you have in society. Such whole-hearted leadership and service will help the people around you who are suffering or in need of inspiration, and bring you a great deal of satisfaction and fulfilment.
So, let me help you explore and reveal the extraordinary wisdom of your heart. The very fact that you have picked up this book and are reading this introduction tells me that you are drawn towards what I am describing. I invite you to join the growing number of visionary individuals who know that the solutions to the problems that we face in the world today must come from the heart. If enough of us can open our hearts and reconnect in the spirit of love, we can create a more collaborative, peaceful and happier world.
Connecting Hearts – The ground-breaking science that is revealing the extraordinary power of the heart in our relationships
In this book I am going to focus on the heart and its extraordinary power to shape our emotions, direct our relationships and access our spirituality. I will be showing you that we are communicating energetically with each other all the time through our hearts. I am sure you have experienced this yourself – it’s that feeling of walking into a room of strangers and knowing that you will be able to connect easily with some people, but with others it will be far more challenging. This intuitive ability shows us that there is much more to communication than the spoken word and body language. It is critically important to be aware of this energetic aspect to communication, and how it is centred on the heart, because it has a profound impact on the quality of your relationships.
If we listen to what medical science tells us about the heart, we wouldn’t expect it to have an amazing communication ability. Rather mundanely, it describes the heart as a blood pump, composed of muscle fibres which are controlled by electrical pulses from a natural pacemaker. This is part of a complex nervous and hormonal system that speeds or slows the heart rate depending on changing demands from the body and brain. While this explains what the heart does mechanically, and recognises that our emotions can affect heart rate, it does not explain why virtually every culture throughout history has used the image or concept of the heart to represent love. You may think that such an idea harks back to less scientifically enlightened times, when superstition and folklore dominated our thinking, or that science should not bother itself with such sentiments, but in this book, I want to show you that this is a mistake. Our research has shown that the heart and the nervous system that controls it, is of central importance in our relationships and has astonishing abilities to communicate love, appreciation, and gratitude to other people.
What you have just read is probably not a surprise to you. Most of us have a strong sense of the heart being important in life’s defining moments. I am sure you have experienced the power of an open heart during your own life. I am talking about those moments when you witness something so moving, meaningful or inspiring that you are overwhelmed with emotion. While this doesn’t happen all the time, when it does there is no denying it. Something shifts within us and is often accompanied by a warm glow that is centred on the area of the heart, along with other physiological changes. Sometimes such a reaction may choke us up and bring us to tears. Then there are those amazing feelings of love and connection that we have from time to time with significant others. These could be with a partner, family member, friend or even a pet. All these heart-opening experiences are what make life worth living and have the power to bring us great healing, joy, and peace. They also affect our physiology in measurable ways. Modern technology allows us to monitor our changing heart rate patterns easily and cheaply in real-time and this opened the door for a research project that I and several family members and friends started in 2014 from my home in England.
Most psychophysiological research focuses on individual heart rate patterns, but in our research, we compared the patterns of two people as they bond with each other in a relationship. Over the last few years, we have run hundreds of experiments and been amazed by what we have seen in the data. We have concluded that the heart provides us with a critically important sense that we can use to improve the quality of our relationships and find more meaning in life. How often do we speak of being wholehearted, full of heart and open-hearted, but also of closing our heart, acting heartlessly and feeling heartbroken? Our research is showing that these are not just sentimental metaphors. We can measure the physiology of the heart and see it opening and closing as we move in and out of connection in our relationships.
Many of our results challenge conventional wisdom about psychology, relationship dynamics and the nature of consciousness and this has meant that they have not been readily accepted by mainstream science. Yet we believe that what we have discovered could help solve some of the major problems that we are facing in the world because these are so often caused by poor or damaged relationships. That is why I have written this book – I want to share what we have learnt with as many people as possible so we can spread this amazing knowledge and make the world a better place.
To show you that I am not exaggerating, in figure 1 you can see an example of one of our datasets from an experiment that I ran with my wife, Claire.
The graph above shows my changing heart rate (Person 1, black line) and that of my wife (Person 2, solid fill) over a period of ten minutes. We recorded both of our heart rates simultaneously for the duration of the experiment and plotted the data afterwards. On this day, as is often the case, our average heart rates were different, so we adjusted the vertical scale on my wife’s heart rate graph to overlay my own. Displaying the data in this way makes it easier to see any correlations that might be present and pick up any subtle synchronisation.
Notice how our heart rates broadly rise and fall together in this example. You may not have realised that your heart rate patterns synchronise in this way with another person when you bond with them, but academic research has shown that this is a common phenomenon for two people who are in a bonded relationship and are in the same room, separated by a couple of metres. We have run many close-proximity experiments, but in the example that produced the results in figure 1, the set-up had one critical difference – we were twenty-five metres apart in separate buildings. We could not see, hear, or otherwise sense each other in conventional ways, yet our heart rates were broadly rising and falling together. There is an even more surprising aspect to this experiment. My wife was a neutral receiver, and I was sending her my love intermittently as she worked on her laptop. I know from recording my focus periods during this experiment that our heart rates rose together when I deliberately felt love for my wife and fell again when I distracted myself.
Of course, the data I have just shown you challenges the current scientific understanding of communication which assumes the sole involvement of the physical senses. Other than some third-party influence, such a synchronisation is impossible to explain with the science that we have today because we were isolated in separate rooms. After many years of research, taking great care with our experimental set-up and checking our data, we are convinced that the synchronisation effects are real, repeatable and are not caused by an environmental effect. We have therefore been drawn to a startling conclusion – that our love and positive feelings are communicated energetically to other people, no matter how far we are away from them. In the rest of this chapter, I would like to take you back to the beginning of our research and explain what motivated us to run such radical experiments, and the steps we took to feel comfortable enough to make such a bold and scientifically controversial claim.
This is Part I of a chapter of the book of Peter Granger: Connected Hearts. Finding love, happiness and spiritual meaning through the wisdom of your heart.
Part II you can find here.