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Be Still, My Beating Hearts

Pause for a moment. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Try to feel your heart beating. Can you feel the pump pump of that little engine inside your chest? For millennia, we've known the vital importance of our hearts for our lives—physical lives certainly, but emotional and spiritual lives as well. But a new scientific study only highlights what we've known all along.

Neuroscientist Agustin Ibanez met a patient named "Carlos" who, in addition to the heart he was born with, had an implanted artificial heart implanted as well, low in his body cavity (near his navel). Carlos didn't like the feeling of his second heart—it disturbed him subtly, giving an eerie feeling that helped Ibanez begin to quantify the many ways that the physical prompts of our hearts, beating fast, slow, and in between, affect our emotional states.

The BBC says, "We often talk about 'following the heart,' but it is only recently that scientists have begun to show that there is literal truth in the cliché; the heaving lump of muscle contributes to our emotions and the mysterious feelings of 'intuition' in a very real way. Everything from your empathy for another person's pain to the hunch that your spouse is having an affair may originate from subtle signals in your heart and the rest of your body."

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