The Most Important 18 Inches You’ll Ever Travel

British author David Mitchell says, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” These words came to me as I was about to embark on a dream vacation to Paris, the city of light and love, with some of my favorite people in the world: my daughter and two dear family friends.

While I was excited to share the adventure with them, I knew the beauty of the trip would be in the various and unique ways we each find enchantment. Of course I wanted to pose in front of the Eiffel Tower and float along the Seine, but more than that, I wanted to discover: How would my heart be changed?

I remember hearing a wonderful talk at Unity in Chicago. The minister reminded us that the most important and challenging journey we face is the one we make alone. It’s learning to travel just 18 inches, from our heads to our hearts.

I like to think the road between my head and my heart is well-traveled. As a feeling-centered person, I’m pretty good at following my heart. But that doesn’t mean my head doesn’t demand equal time and insist on bombarding me with analysis, discouraging facts, insidious doubts, or “mindless” chatter.

Often, before I realize it, the balance has shifted and my mind takes over, trying to make sense of things. Explanations become like a riddle, holding the answer always just out of reach. Making sense of things can’t happen until I engage my senses: my body, my feelings, my heart.

Why should we listen to our hearts? Here are five interesting facts from the Heartmath Institute:

  1. In fetal development, the heart forms and starts beating before the brain begins to develop.
  2. The heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
  3. A mother’s brain waves can synchronize to her baby’s heartbeats even when they are a few feet apart.
  4. The human heart’s magnetic field can be measured several feet away from the body.
  5. The heart has a system of neurons that have both short- and long-term memory, and the signals they send to the brain can affect our emotional experiences. Other people even pick up the quality of our emotions through the electromagnetic energy radiating from our hearts.

Obviously the heart is the ultimate destination, the beginning and end of every journey.

French author Antoine St. Exupery says it best in The Little Prince: “It’s only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

So what else was on our Paris bucket list? Sacre Coeur, of course.