How do you live from the heart? I have been practicing this way of living for several years and can tell you that it’s an ongoing process filled with trial and error. Sometimes it’s like walking through a dark room with your hands stretched out in front of you doing their best to feel their way around. It takes a healthy dose of curiosity, courage, and faith. Living from the heart has terrified me and led me to places I never imagined I would go. Today I find myself experiencing new levels of awe and wonder, and have arrived in a place where life has become an ever-unfolding gift full of surprises. For me, this is the greatest reward of living from the heart. It is never boring. And, in my experience, my heart has never led me astray.
My initiation into heart-centered living started with a fully ensconced mind. Oh, the mind! It is a clever thing. Our minds are data centers that have been capturing and cataloging information since the day we were born. Our minds are as knowledgeable as the data that feeds it, so when it comes to designing a life the mind prefers to work with what it already knows. It has a tendency to affirm itself over and over and to lead us into cycles of the ever-repeating known. This is safe and comfortable. It’s a good system for getting things done. However, it can drown out the voice of the heart. The mind’s voice is loud. The heart’s voice, at least for me, is very quiet.
A few years ago, in a moment of stillness brought on by pure dysfunction, my heart got through to me. “Learn to meditate,” I heard it say. I scoffed at the idea. The voice was a whisper and it again urged me. “Learn to meditate.” Still scoffing, and with an added dose of self-righteous disdain, I Googled the word “meditation” in order to prove that what I was hearing was indeed a ridiculous idea.
It turns out that my heart was leading me to a tool that has completely transformed my life. The key for me was getting quiet. My dysfunction was a blessing in disguise. Without it I don’t know that I would have heard my heart leading me to what it knew I needed. Now that I meditate, I am quiet every day on purpose. In that quiet I hear the voice of my heart and move my awareness from my mind, which is focused externally, to my heart, which is focused inward. Inside is where wisdom lies. It’s where love and compassion come from and it’s where inspiration ignites. It is the place from which we can create an extraordinary life by making decisions that resonate with who we intend to be rather than being defined by our mind’s limited understanding. It’s the place where you feel your way through and, with practice, patience, and trust, prove to the mind that everything is going to be just fine.
~ this article appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Yoga Iowa.