keeping up to date

February is Heart Month

Photo of Reagen Benedetti, MMA Fighter, who inspired this essay.

During February of last year, when I made “dancing the heart” our focus, I was not inspired by the "Hallmark holiday" image of the heart. Yes, this focus was tied to Valentine’s Day. But what kept coming to mind as I was crystallizing this focus was pure strength and beauty of the heart.

In preparing for the classes, I had the opportunity to read about the ways in which this critical organ not only keeps us alive by delivering nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood throughout our bodies, but the fact that it sends waves of electromagnetic energy into the world around us.

We know the heart as a muscle. But it’s actually more neuron than muscle tissue -- around 65% of it consists of neurons, in fact. This is part of the reason that, as anybody connected to passion knows, the heart is a guiding, driving force. We “know in our hearts” when something is right for us, or wrong; a broken heart can negatively affect our physical bodies in myriad ways – and strengthen us as it mends -- just as a happy heart can transform the world around us.

This is not merely a psychosomatic coincidence.

As stated in an article posted on, “[the] heart field is 60 times greater in amplitude than brain waves. It can be detected and measured several feet away, in a circle above and around us, and blends between two individuals in close proximity. The heart connects everything around us, and can trigger our deepest yearnings, which is why it is often said that we should follow our hearts’ desires.”

It's beneficial to "dance the heart" on a regular basis -- not just by using "shimmy" or "chest isolations", but with music that moves us and plenty of freedancing wherever and whenever the mood strikes. Nourishing our heart connection is central to the mind-body-emotion-spirit aspect of our Nia practice. It’s also a crucial element of martial arts.

As Aikido sensei Linda Holiday wrote, “The world today is chaotic -- you know this. But the age of the heart will come. O-Sensei emphasized that we must return to the heart. Firmly grasp O-Sensei's philosophy–the heart of Aikido–and integrate it into your technique, into your own body. Train hard and well, until, like O-Sensei, light shines out from your heart.”

Today, and always, my wish is for everyone to dance the beautiful energy and resilience of your heart as you move through life.

Blog of the month by Melanie McFarland