Although man consists of body, soul and spirit, it is the heart behind or within these that truly determines his ways:
The heart as the Hebrew word ‘leb’ or as the Greek word ‘kardia’ occurs nine hundred thirty five (935) times in the Word of God. Surely then it should enjoy high priority in the whole psyche of man. The word ‘leb’ is often also translated as mind or will. It is drawn from the root ‘lebab’ meaning: ‘the most interior organ’ and also from ‘labab’ meaning: to be enclosed (Strong, J.; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).
Within the core of humanity is ‘the hidden man of the heart’! (1 Pet 3:4) The heart is the centre of man’s identity. Man will not know himself unless he can live from the very centre of his being. ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.’ (Proverbs 20:5) There can be no wholeness, no complete restoration from pain and hurt unless the broken heart is made whole.
The purpose of redemption was to bring restoration of the broken heart. Trauma wounds the heart, and shatters the very centre of man’s identity. Humanity however is called to respond to God’s love by loving Him with the whole heart (Math 22: 37) ‘love the Lord thy God with all your heart,…’ Out of the wholeness of the heart wisdom, judgment, purpose and love bubbles forth. Wisdom due to the open flow of the Spirit of Wisdom, insight and understanding directs the action of the will, emotions, thoughts and finally reaction to circumstances. God longs for man to live with a heart filled with wisdom of heart and ability (Ex 35: 35).
In the Book of Exodus, it is stated that God filled His people with the Spirit of God, with ability and wisdom, with intelligence and understanding, and with knowledge and all craftsmanship. (verse 31) Also in the following Chapter it states: “…whose heart the Lord had put wisdom”.
The physical make-up of a human heart may also confirm the spiritual purpose of this vital organ of man. The heart pumps an average of 100 000 times per day and supplies more or less 7000 liters of blood to the rest of the physical body. (Gitt, W.) This small organ weighing a mere 300 g, sustains the whole human body. Life as oxygen is pumped to all areas of the body. The heart purifies the inflowing blood and restores the required level of oxygen in the out-flowing blood vital for the cells of the body. Without this supply the body will die within minutes. This process reveals the spiritual role of sifting and cleansing that occurs within the inner core of man. Life or death, truth or lie, right or wrong, is all filtered through the operations within the heart of man.
The power of choice is contained and applied in the intricate surrounding of the heart. Judgment and discernment are placed upon the heart of man as a breastplate the same way it was physically placed upon the heart of the High Priest. Through this he was protected to walk in sync with God’s prerequisites. To discern the seasons and the time, to recognize the traps of the enemy of man, ensures a safe walk and sure destiny. The Book of Ecclesiastes states that a man’s heart discerns both when and what to do. (Eccl 8: 5) Counsel in the heart of man is according to Solomon like water in a deep well. (Prov 20: 50) The writer of Ecclesiastes entered into counsel with his own heart and states that his heart has great experience of moral wisdom and scientific knowledge. (Eccl 1: 16, 17) Therefore it is essential that man should seek the Lord with his whole heart, allowing His wisdom to flow constantly and to pursue a pure heart. (Prov 22 : 11) In this safe environment he can live from the very core of his being, his true self.
The focus in therapy, in the aim of restoring man from the pain and damage from trauma is to pursue the restoration of the heart to wholeness. John explains that if the heart does not bring accusation, man can come before God with boldness. A whole heart is able to receive counsel and wisdom, his heart can ‘draw out the counsel’ from his wise friend. (Prov 20: 5) Man needs to apply his heart to instruction and correction. (Prov 23: 12) The Word sown as the seed must be treasured in the heart otherwise the enemy may snatch the Truth from his heart. A broken heart cannot defend off evil deceit and false counsel. It is not protected against the manipulations of the selfish and the abusive. A broken and wounded heart is unable to receive counsel in wisdom. Such a man hardens his heart to the touch of pure love.
Trust, the key that unlocks the heart to receive and give, is thrown away in a desperate attempt to protect further wounding of the heart in an abusive relationship. A shattered heart cannot direct the will, emotions or thought patterns. These vital shareholders in humanity wander around in a senseless attempt to survive. To live from a defiled, hardened heart, soon becomes the cradle for bitterness, anger, resentment and having a double mind. (James 4: 8) Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks and brings forth either his inner good treasure or evil form his evil storehouse. (Matt 12: 34 – 35) As the old French proverb states: ‘There is no secret in the heart that is not revealed through action and deed’ (Gitt, W.). Whatever governs man (controls), owns his heart. Whatever owns man’s heart (through devotion or worship), governs man.
Jesus stated:” It is not that which enters the mouth that defiles man because it does not reach his heart, but only his digestive system. It is that which comes forth from the depths of the heart that has potential to defile man.” (Mark 7: 19 – 21) Man and his wounded heart are hopeless without the supernatural touch of the Creator of the heart. BUT: ’God is greater than our hearts.’ (I John3: 20) ‘The Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analysing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Hebrews 4: 12)
The heart is the most inner core and demands the deepest penetration of God’s ‘rhema’ (spoken) Word. The heart reveals the treasures of man’s being. God sees the inner secrets of our hearts.
Permanent change calls for an inner conviction. Unless a truth has a settled place in the heart, man will not change in his identity. Many decisions have been made, but never settled in the heart. These superficial decisions will never cause permanent change. There is a process of grasping a concept to the extent of a conviction. In Matt 13: 15, Jesus states that growth and change only comes through a specific process:
- See and perceive – with the eyes
- Hear and recognise – with the ears
- Grasp and understand – with the heart …and turn. This process calls for the fresh information to be allowed entrance through various levels of scanning, outside and the inside of humanity.
- To perceive is to stare intently, it demands focused, undivided attention. To perceive is to allow entrance to what the eyes see and connect the urgent message that amplified energy should be spent in the processing of this information. The importance of this amplified energy level for new revelations/ truth to settle permanently will be explained later.
- To recognise encapsulates the process of allowing the new information to be moulded over and over, seeking for a place of acceptance in the mind and eventually the heart. Meditation on the Word of God and the critical evaluation of how to implement the Truth is an essential part in the process of change.
- There cannot be change until the process is completed and the perception is recognised and at last understood. This process of grasping a concept, to the ranking of allowing it to settle in the heart of man brings forth inner conviction. Unless the heart of man enjoys this truth as absolute, change of character cannot come. The body then manifests the reality of the conviction by obeying and acting in sync with the new understanding (the people turned from their ways after understanding came in their hearts, Matt 13: 15).
Rene Descartes, 1637, stated: ‘Intuition is the undoubting conception of a pure and attentive mind, which arises from the light of reason alone and is more certain than deduction’.
It is however the conviction within the heart of man that births forth intuition and change.
‘Whatever impresses you attracts you. Whatever you pursue becomes your purpose.’ – Tommy Tenney
Motivation seems to be the catalyst for change. The higher man’s motivation to accept the new concept and change, the more likely conviction will soon settle and surrender of the rest of humanity will follow. Motivation is stirred as exposure and expectation increase. The more often man is reminded of where he might be or what he should be like the more motivation is activated in his psyche to change accordingly.
MAN: vision, dream, expectation versus MAN: Current state of man =FRUSTRATION: The level of Frustration is determined by the distance between the two.
Frustration can either cause despondency and feelings of hopelessness or motivation. In any decision-making process the intensity of man’s motivation will determine the level of information processing:
Spiritual Maturity or Wholeness of heart encapsulates:
- Restoration of the heart of man to purity
- Restoration of the mind in thought and emotion to purity
- Restoration of the spirit, the ability to seek fellowship with the Creator and to enjoy hearing His voice.
- Restoration of relationships and communication in obedience to purity of heart
- Restoration of the body in health and submission to the heart
The heart thus seems to be seated in the Chairman’s seat of humanity’s Company. The spirit and soul with the mind, will, thoughts and body will advise the heart concerning what needs to be the conviction, but it is the heart that makes the final decision.
Circumstances from the time of conception challenge humanity to integrate data in a manner most fitting for survival. During those first stages in life nothing else is more important than simply making it in this world. Man will integrate every little detail of his young life and place it in various categories for future reference. Associations are even then made with new experiences and he gains ability to link certain incoming, sensory data with already existing information. Experiences too painful or somehow perceived as traumatic are thus integrated in the developing areas of the mind. This forms the foundation for following data and is therefore crucial to be link-able with associated data. It is almost like the formation of a certain type of mental ‘glue’ ready to welcome data attach-able to that specific glue.
Suppose Tom (as example) was not planned and welcome and thus born into a world of hostility and abandonment. During the crucial stages of his development, Tom received verbal and non-verbal messages of rejection and disrespect. He was abused because his most basic needs were not met: Needs to be unconditionally accepted, nurtured, to feel secure and safe (emotionally as well as physically), etc. As an outflow fear will develop strong bonds in relating with other. He will not be aware that the world can also be warm and welcoming. By the time Tom turns ten years old, he might have come across a few friendly faces at school, but would not have the capacity to respond and enjoy the rare moments of love and acceptance. It would be weird and incompatible to the then familiar messages of animosity and rejection. The experiences of his past will impact Tom in his overall viewpoint of others and himself.
The constant bombardment of similar destructive sensory data has by then stimulated the neuron receptors and ensured a multitude of receptors for those types of messages to be present. This aspect of cognition manifests clearly in the intriguing vastness of the physical brain. Brain development has an amazing role to play in dealing with the type of stimulation a baby receives from the surroundings. Man is born with 100 billion neurons. However, these neurons are not connected and are eagerly awaiting stimulation to grow and connect – to form pathways that will eventually become familiar and speed up the responses to certain triggers from the surroundings. Messages or information get transferred from one nerve cell to the next via electrical impulses. The impulse crosses the gap or synapse in the form of chemicals, referred to as neurotransmitters. Dendrites (connecting structures (arms) on the neuron cell) have endings called terminals through which these messages are transferred. It is this type of branching that increases as stimulation increases, to develop an intricate network of connections. Thus, the more stimulation, the more connections!
One of the most fascinating aspects of the brain is its ability to receive or reject certain messages, to some extent determined by specific receptors at the terminals of the receiving neuron! This crucial choice will be due to, among other things, whether the ‘shape’ of the receptor can accommodate the ‘shape’ of the neurotransmitter. It can be compared to finding the right key for the right keyhole or lock. The neurotransmitter can therefore be seen as keys unlocking the potential and ability to grow! It seems that when certain receptors are in high demand, they will eventually either increase in concentration per receiving dendrites, or become highly sensitive to the ‘fitting’ neurotransmitter. This causes certain pathways easier to follow in the human mind.
Therefore: it becomes increasingly difficult to change habits, perceptions and thought patterns the more familiar man’s mind comes to certain pathways. This also seems to be confirmed in the study of genetic ‘hierarchy’ in the filtration of the incoming information constantly received from man’s senses. Approximately 100 million bits of data rush up the spinal cord each minute!
To prevent information overload, up to 99% of the data from the spinal cord is filtered out by a part of the brain called the reticular formation. Further filtration of information then occurs in the cerebellum within the genetic components of the nerve cells!
“The brain is not primarily an experience storing device that constantly changes its structure to accommodate new experiences or information from the evolutionary perspective. It is a dynamic computing device that is largely rule-driven, and goal orientated.“ – Gazzonia, 1998
All incoming sensory information is potentially important. It needs to be sorted and scanned to discern the hierarchy of emergency or applicability for the individual. Depending on the ranking received after scanning, the message will be forwarded to the next level of filtration. Receptors on the receiving neuron activate or inactivate ion channels in the membrane and thus regulate the voltage potential across the membrane. Ions, especially calcium ions, alter intracellular ion concentrations and activate intracellular second messenger cascades.
Simultaneously, activation of other surface receptors influences the activation of other intracellular signalling pathways. All the sensory information is integrated in the cell body!! Within the core of the soma the message is translated into the various levels of gene expression. This can alter the composition of proteins and other cellular components within the cell! If membrane potential at the axon hillock immediately adjacent to the cell body rises above a threshold because of actions of dendrite ion channels, an action potential is generated. Action potentials are instantaneous pulses through membrane depolarization, the rapid transmission then moves along the axons to the synaptic terminals. This may sometimes even be several centimetres away from the cell body.
Each of the 1011 neurons in the adult brain receives average of 103 – 104 synapses from 103 other neurons. Each pre-synaptic neuron is capable of exerting an infinitesimal amount of stimulatory and inhibitory influence on each postsynaptic neuron. This results in a most complex computational structure known!
The road less travelled is not the pathway preferred in the cortex of the human brain. The clearer pathways in the cortex, the easier and more effortless the brain can function without utilizing energy spent on conflicting, challenging new data. According to research on the neurological fatal development, the repetitive playing of certain music, such as Mozart, can indeed enhance the new-born’s ability to prefer certain sounds from the fatal world. Memories create a foundation for add-ons. Research revealed that the more knowledge (data) is stored in the various areas of the cortex the more associations can be made with the fresh incoming information. This will strongly enhance the consolidation process.
The greater the storage data in the cortex the more likely for the individual to learn efficiently new aspects built onto the stored data. Priming refers to the type of memory where one piece of information can cue the recall of another. This ensures the acceptability of familiar ‘keys’ (neurotransmitters). Therefore, when Tom hears the comment of a selfless, loving person stating that he is indeed special, he will reject this very unfamiliar message entering his mind. Genetic filtration kicks in and the message is prevented from entering deeper for further processing.
Each individual steers his own mind and states his own rules as to, according to him, utilize the incoming information most effectively. Certain determinants are responsible for the specific manner of dealing with all incoming information. Due to Genetic Filtration, it is clear that man can either accept or reject sensory data. Each individual is challenged with confronting impulses. Sensory information enters the nervous system and immediately faces the judging eye of the genetic filters in the somas (or cells). These ‘filters’ consists of data inherited and data gathered throughout the individual’s life up to that point. This data forms a scanning devise triggered the moment new or different information urges attention. The convictions of the heart of man manifests as the filters of all sensory data!!
Any impulse demanding a certain amount of energy and attention alerts the filtration system to come into action and scan the relevant information. This will determine continuation of the impulses to the next level of scanning and processing. According to a careful examination from the soma’s genetic expression, the sensory data will be transferred to the next nerve cell along the nerve pathway. Any transference of data in the nervous system occurs in an electro chemical manner. Ion channels are formed, neurotransmitters are released with high enough voltage potentials and the receiving neuron’s receptors are stimulated to further the process of transmission.
The neurotransmitter chosen to assist the specific process will be associated with a certain message. When the infant constantly receives sensory or spiritual messages pertaining rejection, e.g. unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, the Mother stating that she wished the baby was never born, baby’s presence is overwhelming for an already overburdened mother (as in Tom’s scenario), etc. This type of message will then release the typical neurotransmitter necessary for effective transmission. For the sake of illustration, this neurotransmitter can be referred to as the ‘R’ neurotransmitter. Eventually the continual stimulation of the corresponding receptors from neurotransmitters active during rejection messages (R) will form a nerve pathway. Due to the regular demand of these specific receptors, more receptors with the ability to accept or fit the so called ‘R’ neurotransmitter is produced and thus accumulates with demand. As mentioned earlier, receptors in high demand will eventually either increase in concentration per receiving dendrite or become highly sensitive to the ‘fitting’ neurotransmitter.
These ‘R’ receptors are then eagerly awaiting stimulation from ‘R’ neurotransmitters. This ensures rapid processing of information and columnar organization, indicating the pathways. Seeing that all information is integrated in the cell body, the full transmission of sensory data will be done within the very nucleus of the soma. Thus, the composition of the proteins is altered to adapt to the latest acceptable message!
Thought processing is often initiated through an association. This can be referred to as a trigger. Typical triggers would be a tone of voice, a smell, a specific environment, or situation and even music or movie scenes. The trigger is responsible for the onset of the familiar trail of thought. Similar to the pushing over of the first domino, a cascade of domino will follow. The result: reacting upon the trigger. It is clear then that logic between the actual event and the reaction it triggered seems quite far removed. How indeed otherwise when the sensory data first must be filtrated according to the victim’s unique filter and then processed by his stimulated thought patterns. The mind eagerly chooses the road always travelled. Trauma therefore causes man’s mind to become his own prison, controlling his very thoughts and intensions, his motivations, and his personal growth.
Tom will need an experience of unconditional love and acceptance as prerequisite for change. The emotional pain has distorted Tom’s ability to receive the good news he so desperately needs to hear. His pain filters all incoming information. It convinced him that he is indeed worthless and unacceptable. When Tom passes a group of school friends softly talking and giggling, he will most probably interpret the situation through his familiar filter of rejection. He will be convinced that he is the topic of discussion and that the friends are laughing at him. He will therefore interpret almost all information according to this pain-inspired filter. A lie then determines the attention level of all sensory data! Tom’s perceptions of who he is and who others are, will impact every aspect of his life: his choices, his friends, his actions, his motivation, and his participation in activities, also his role in the community. He will more likely misinterpret circumstances and miss precious opportunities for personal growth.