When my mom was pregnant with my twin brother and me, the doctor insisted that she was having one child. Even though she had gained 60 pounds, he said she was just having one baby. After all, he could only hear one heart beat. And she was a thin woman, and so he encouraged the weight gain. The only one that wasn’t surprised that we were twins was my dad… but that is another story.
Biologists have studied two heart cells from two separate individuals, placed in the same petri dish. They have learned that these two heart cells will take on a third, common heart beat. In other words, their heart rhythms will change and take on a same heart rhythm.
In yoga, we do a similar thing. As we come to our mats, we practice our breathing. I start the class off with a simple inhale/exhale exercise. During this initial breathing exercise, I will continue to remind people when to inhale/exhale. We bring our breaths together, thus forming a third breath. Our breathing affects the heart rate, and so our hearts begin to beat as one.
This occurs when we sleep with another person. Notice how, if that person is asleep when we come to bed, our bodies want to slow down and match that rhythm. And if one partner in bed is having a bad night of sleep, then the other partner will often feel the effects from that as well.
Finding a common heartbeat is the nature of the human body. But it may also be the nature of the human Soul. That common heartbeat is what reminds us, though we are separate bodies, we are all connected. Our Souls have a connection through our hearts. That is why there are some strangers who we meet whom we automatically connect with, at a Soul level. We feel like we have known them all our lives. That connection is a heart connection.
So if we are all connected through our heartbeat, why do we make such effort to see the differences of others from ourselves? Why do we judge others who are “different?” Really, they are an extension of ourselves. It takes effort to keep ourselves separate from others. This is hard work.
The easy work, the natural work, is to seek out our similarities and let our hearts beat together. As biology intended for us.