heart and mind


By Nina Rubin

“Your mind and heart need to build a relationship slowly, somewhat like a pet and its human. At first, your mind needs to hold your heart tightly on a leash. Your heart screams, “I must have this! I must go there!”

And your mind says, “Calm down. We talked this over already and we both agreed you don’t need to.”

The heart screams, “But now I feel I need to! If I don’t, who knows what will happen!”

And the mind says, “That’s because you are a heart. Hearts feel that way. But I am a mind and I know we will survive even if you don’t.”

Eventually, the heart learns the paths and gallops along them with ease. It becomes a mindful heart.”

Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, words and condensation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman.

I read the passage above and have been digesting it for a few days. Sharing it with a few people, I’ve had some heartfelt and heady discussions on the matter.

Here are my musings:

I feel badly for people who’ve never said I love you.

My client and I discussed this concept recently and agreed it would be hard to trust someone without love experience. But then, maybe these people have not met the right ones with whom to share themselves. We concluded that those who haven’t been open to love may be adverse to the vulnerability, receptiveness and might be hard to connect with. For my client, it is extremely important to date someone who is available to loving. I agree.

In loving relationships, which part of the body leads in love? Is it the heart or is it the head (and for some people it’s definitely something else)?

Can these areas be balanced 50/50? I used to lead with my mind, as it was something I thought I could trust. When I was in a relationship with someone who led primarily with his heart, it was concurrent with my somatic movement class in New York. This made for an extraordinary learning experience. While I learned about fundamental movements and their correlation to our personalities, I also experienced a loving, open person who reminded me to close my eyes and feel with my heart. He taught me how to stop thinking (and over thinking) and to feel my way through things.

It was a beautiful and refreshing.

When is it necessary to think, take it slowly, or be mindful?

Hopefully, we have awareness when entering or staying in a relationship. It’s crucial that we’re aware of ourselves, our partners and our mutual effects on each other. Never have I analyzed something and torn it apart! Kidding—but I’m certainly trying to do that less. I find that when I over think my way through problems, I tend to diminish the goodness or rip to shreds anything potentially lovely. Our minds are necessary parts of our relationships, but I believe we tend to emphasize the thinking and underestimate the feeling parts.

Can I trust myself?

In other words, will my heart lead me astray? Well this is all sorts of confusing and adds another element: the gut. I think it’s so important to listen to our hearts. I know you can feel love, and it’s not just something your mind is telling you. To me, it’s a physical reaction—and it feels thick, deep and sticky, like I wrote in a previous post (What does it feel like?).

Inviting your gut to the love party means that you’re noticing if it feels appropriate; if this person is good for you. So maybe the heart and gut are teammates and the head is the coach. Could that be a good balance of power? Maybe the coach (mind) is setting the tone for the game and directing movement, while the heart and gut are the running backs on the field and actually get the job done.

The sentiments above are too logical for me.

When I first read this, I was in complete agreement. As the week has passed, and I’ve given this more time to marinate, I’ve concluded that it’s too heady. I want my love relationships to be felt, not completely thought. Naturally, I want to make smart love decisions (and choose partners wisely), yet when I’m internally arguing with myself, something is probably wrong. That’s when I need to step back and integrate my heart, gut and mind. It’s best when they’re aligned.

In the passage, the author says to “calm down.” That part of the message annoys me.

Love is not calm! It’s fiery, it’s hot, it’s felt, it’s passionate, it’s home. To me, that calmness suggests putting a damper on the reggae beat. And that’s my heart talking! When my head reads it, it rationalizes and understands that love doesn’t have to be so fast, we can go five miles per hour slower and still get there on time. There’s no rush.

Okay, okay, I understand. I also disagree when he says the heart doesn’t “need” it. To me, hearts need love the way minds need intellectual stimuli. Is there a need to devour or ravish love at once? Maybe not in one bite, but over the course of some tantalizing meals we can get our sustenance.

Our brains are constantly trying to look out for our high-frequency, free-loving hearts. They’re placing logic over emotional reality. We have to give our minds credit for caring for our well-being (or for being tired of the drama!). We need to give our hearts credit for serving as adventurers, risk-takers, and spirit warriors.

There are lots of times when our brains know that something is not working well (and our brains tell us with that nagging, second-guessing) and our hearts won’t listen. In these occurrences, our hearts are know-it-alls. We ditch our minds, believing the song of our hearts. Rarely does it work favorably when we ignore the warnings from our minds. These are examples when we somehow needed to really learn the lesson, when we complicate matters or repeat patterns. Eventually, we get there, we make amends, we suffer, we grow.

So what’s best?

After writing all of this, maybe a 70% heart, 30% head ratio? Clearly, each of us knows our best balance. Now it’s time to live and experience loving in a balanced, healthy way.

I’d love to read your comments—add them below!


Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall