What does it mean to you to get out of your head and live more from your heart? How do we "open our hearts" to ourselves and others?
“Well… what does your heart say?”
“Your heart knows best.”
“Just listen to your heart.”
“Follow your heart.”
We've all heard people make these statements to us and to others. Maybe we've even heard ourselves say these things to someone. I, for one, even find myself often reminding myself to listen to what my heart is telling me.
I have often wondered, for many years, just what exactly does it mean to have an open heart?
What does it really mean to not be “coming from my head”, and instead, to be “coming from my heart”?
It's pretty common to refer to the area of our solar plexus as the location of our “spiritual” heart. It's not exactly our physical heart,(or is it?), but instead, some kind of energy center, (chakra) where our most profound, knowing, intuitive, deeply felt wisdom abides. If we somehow are able to listen from there, to think from there, to feel from there, to act from there, then we are likely to be on the right track in any area of our lives, or so it seems.
In fact, leading-edge biological research is delving into just how this “heart knowing” takes place in a neuro-physiological way. In an article entitled Thinking From The Heart - Heart Brain Science, Dr. Dominique Surel explains:
“The heart is in a constant two way dialogue with the brain. But… the heart and cardiovascular system are sending far more signals to the brain then the brain is sending to the heart.”
“Recent work in the relatively new field of neuralcardiology has firmly established that the heart is a sensory organ and an information encoding and processing center, with an extensive intrinsic nervous system that's sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a heart brain. Its circuitry enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the cranial brain. To everyone's surprise, the findings have demonstrated that the heart’s intrinsic nervous system is a complex, self-organized system; its neuroplasticity, or ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections over both the short and long-term, has been well demonstrated.”
So that’s a bit of the amazing neuralcardiology of it all, but what about how we are affected in our ability to live our lives masterfully day-by-day, based on whether we are able to live “heart-centered” lives or not?
I have often wished that I understood, or knew, how all of this heart stuff worked to affect my happiness, a little better then I seemed to. I was alternately told by various people throughout my adult life that, on the one hand, they could really feel what a heart-centered person I was, while others would say, “Wow, you are such a thinker! You are so in your head!”
From where I was sitting, I was pretty much also experiencing both things. At times, such as when feeling deeply for the plight of others, or my love for someone close to me, or when deeply immersed in the beauty of nature, or music, or dance, there would be no question that I was feeling something that could be called “my heart”. On the other hand, I was continually noticing how much time I put into reading and listening to all kinds of wisdom teachings and self-help gurus in order to arrive at intellectual understandings of how life works, and specifically, how could I get my life to have less problems, and more ease, fun, and insight.
I especially noticed how intellectual understanding alone, could only take me so far. The real transformations, or shifts in my consciousness, shifts in my actual life experience, seemed to always depend more on how in touch I really was with the realm of the heart. I often observed how there seemed to be a general consensus among those in the know in the spiritual-psychological community, that unless one immersed themselves in “the work of the heart” or, “the healing of the heart” then no true transformation would take place.
Yet I often felt that knowing how to work with myself in the realm of my heart, was virgin territory for me. For the last 45 years, I have relied on doing meditation for approximately one hour per day, as my daily dose of medicine, or nutrition, or “beingness” that hopefully guarantees that my connection to my heart is alive and well. I have come to equate my level of joy and inner peace throughout my day with the degree that I have managed to connect to my heart during my morning meditation, and to the degree that I can relax, feel and trust that inner connection throughout my day.
Still, I have sort of envied the many women in my life (and a few dudes), who seem to so readily and easily “come from their hearts”, or their intuition, in approaching and successfully addressing the various areas of their lives. I often wondered, “How do they do it? How can they be so in touch with their tears, or their joy, or their knowing? How could I ever get in touch with my heart and my intuition to that degree?”
I've done a lot, especially over the last 10 years, to open myself more to my heart and intuition. My divorce set me firmly on that path. Perhaps the most powerful experience was the time I spent journeying into the inner realms of my being, under the influence of the plant medicine, ayahuasca, while spending time with the Achuar Indians in the Ecuadorian rainforest. I also spent a good deal of time training in a heart-body-centered form of life coaching with Gay and Katie Hendricks, called Conscious Living/ Conscious Loving. I have spent hundreds of hours out in nature just sitting in astoundingly beautiful settings, letting myself simply feel whatever would come up within me. Most recently, a dear friend and psychotherapist has trained me in a form of heart meditation she calls Samyama.
I’ve also been doing what is called “Automatic Writing”, as described by author and teacher Tim Kelley and others, as a way to connect to your “Higher Guidance” or “Trusted Sources” that exist in the unseen realm. This is a practice of asking a question that is concerning me, perhaps around some issue such as relationships, money, right livelihood, health, self-worth, or similar concerns, and then seeing what flows automatically out onto my paper as I allow my pen to write rapidly with little or no interference from my analytical mind.
One of the key ingredients of successful automatic writing is to determine carefully just who or what are your “Trusted Sources” of Higher Guidance that you can fully rely on to communicate with you from the unseen realm. It took me a while to get clear on just who or what I felt I trusted to communicate with me in my automatic writing. I had to feel real to me.
Interestingly, I ended up with a list of who I call upon for guidance that goes something like this: My Heart, My Soul, My Inner Being, My Infinite Source Self, My Loving Ancestors, All-That-Is, Great Mystery. I trust that all of these Beings, or Quantum Fields, or Entities or whatever they are, are actually there ready to assist me in any moment I call on them, whether via automatic writing insights, or just in asking for, feeling for, or simply trusting their presence to be there for me.
What’s interesting here, in considering what it means to “live from my heart” is that to me, My Heart is synonymous with all those other names of loving forces that I am addressing. Thus, being in touch with My Heart means the same thing as being in touch with My Soul, My Inner Being, and all the rest of these “Divine Allies” I rely on. I don’t really know the difference between them all, nor do I care to. I just want to feel my alignment with them all, just like I want to feel My Heart.
So in terms of the Law of Attraction, which affirms that like vibrations attract like vibrations, when I align myself with being receptive to feeling the blessings and help that are constantly raining down on me from all my loving Divine Allies, I am really just aligning with who and what the greater part of me actually is. I am My Heart, I am My Soul, I am my Infinite Source Self, I am one with my Loving Ancestors, I am one with All-That-Is. Whew…what a relief!
According to the Law of Attraction, being receptive to my own Well-Being, being receptive to the blessings that are constantly raining down on me, is 100% of my job here on this planet. My work here, which is ironically also my play here, is to listen to the intuitive impulses arriving from My Heart, from my Inner Being. It is to enjoy the journey moment-by-moment, the adventure, the thrill of being alive.
As Abraham (as in Abraham-Hicks) says:" You didn't come here to fix things that are broken, or to know things that you don't know. You came because life on the path of least resistance is a delicious state of being. And you are in love with your life, and you are in love with you, and you are in love with being in love with life.”
When I encounter resistance on my path, when my thoughts are telling me that I am immersed in a challenging or distressful situation, what results are often emotions or vibrations of sadness, grief, despair, anger or any vibration on the lower end of the emotional scale. But those vibrations are there to indicate to me that my Higher Source Self, my Heart that is aligned with my Inner Being, with my Soul, is thinking differently about my situation that is troubling to me.
Those uncomfortable feelings are there to inform me that there is another way to think about my situation, and to find a way to move up the emotional scale toward hope, possibility, ease, peace, joy. As I intuitively choose “the next best feeling thing” throughout my day, I am really just choosing to listen to my Heart, rather than the thoughts that are bringing me down. My Heart knows the way. My Inner Being is always loving me unconditionally.
When I search for even a little bit better thought or feeling than the bad feelings I may be having; when I count my blessings and look for things to appreciate in myself, in others, in my situation; when I relax, and chill out, and take my mind completely off my problems and go do something fun or that beings me joy; when I take a nap, or meditate, or create a better feeling story in my mind about the situation that is bothering me; when I choose that I am worthy and loved by me, no matter what; when I suspend my judgments, or critical attitude; when I trust that my Inner Being has always got my back; all of these things are ways that I call upon My Heart, My Inner Being to care for me. For me, that’s Living From My Heart.