A Heart Surgeon's Quest to Understand Our Most Mysterious Organ

Dr. Reinhard Friedl, author of The Source of All Things, joined Quick and Dirty Tips for a Q&A about a very complex organ: the heart. 

Reinhard Friedl
3-minute read

The Source of All Things is a surgeon’s highly personal investigation of the human heart, moving from his riveting clinical experiences to a more poetic understanding of its workings.

1. What was your inspiration toward writing The Source of All Things? What have you discovered about yourself and your practice in doing so?

After doing thousands of heart operations I became more involved in my own personal development and very much engaged in practicing meditation. I was instructed to listen to and feel my own heart by various  teachers and realised, I did not have easy access to my heart in that way. At the beginning I felt pretty much nothing but numbness. Over time however, a burning question arose right in the middle of my chest: is there any biological and scientific evidence, that the heart can feel and that the heart is an organ of consciousness? Is it true that the heart is an organ of wisdom and that only with the heart one can see rightly? Or is the heart just a pump and these sayings mere metaphors?

2. What do you hope readers walk away with after reading The Source of All Things?

They walk away with heir brains reconnected to their hearts and feel the excitement of having such an intimate relationship right in the center of their existence. This could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship, leading to the depths and source of their existence.

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3. Do you have any actionable health tips or life hacks that readers should take away from your findings?

To the right and left side of our heart two big wings are located, our lungs. With every conscious inhale those wings open and embrace the heart gently and with every exhale this huge hug loosens up. I have seen that many times in the operation room. All hearts love this massage and their heartbeats start to harmonically speed up and slow down with every breath. It is very subtle, but the variability of our heart beats increases. A good heart rate variability is the secret key to health, a long life and supports healing.

A good heart rate variability is the secret key to health, a long life and supports healing.

4, Can you tell us one of the secret connections between the heart and the brain that you discuss in The Source of All Things?

The brain listens to the heart. Not always as we all know, but sometimes, and when it does so, scientists recently detected so called Heart Beat Evoked Potentials in our cortex. Such potentials have a miraculous effect: they sharpen our vision, lead to more empathy and make us happy.

5. Have any of these findings changed the way you approach your work?

To me every heart in a living individual, with its own physical appearance, its own sensitivity and its own voice. Ignoring that voice long time makes hearts sick and and brains also. Many heart diseases arise from problematic relations with their brains and vice versa. Not rarely both organs need a couples therapy instead of a surgical intervention or polypharmacy. 

6. Is there anything you want to talk about in regards to your book that has not been asked?

The brain is a wonderful organ and may be regarded as the captain of our body. However, without a good compass it cannot discriminate false from true and manipulation from honesty, it may not know how to decide and where to go, we are in danger of sailing in circles or shipwreck. Cardio-cognitive consciousness of out hearts makes them a reliable, truthful compass. Hearts and brains are intimate friends, always depending on each other, we may never forget that.