‘My heart is so small
It’s almost invisible.
How can you place
Such big sorrows in it?
“Look,” He answered,
“Your eyes are even smaller,
Yet they behold the world.”’
~Whispers of the Beloved, Rumi
The Heart is our most Powerful Transforming Agent
The Sufis say that the heart has thirty-three layers to dwell in. When we are in love, the entire world can look absolutely magical, colourful and joyous. When we have fallen out of love, the world looks depressed and grey. Nothing has changed; it’s the same walls, the same street, the same city, yet because we feel depressed, it looks grey and run down. The heart has unlimited powers and energies, once it lets go of its defences and guards.
For me, opening the heart has always been the key to joy and moreover the key to authentic and honest relating and love.
I live some time of the year in Australia. And I a while ago, I had a fight with one of my dear friends over something comparatively small. He reacted and shut himself away and withdrew completely. This withdrawal left me emotionally shattered and ungrounded. Even though I wanted to feel like nothing happened, I was tensed inside. At the same time, a heavy rainstorm was brewing in the middle of the Australian bush, and somehow it all appeared threatening. I knew the brutality of Australian weather and have survived through its unpredictability, so it should not have been a concern. But the reason behind my shaky and grey mood was despair in the heart. The moment I shut down my heart, my view of everything becomes negative. The atmosphere became grey and fear started haunting me. Soon after we overcame our little dispute, my heart opened, I felt vulnerable again, and the fear disappeared. The storm looked less wild, and above all less threatening. It is often actually that simple, yet when you in it, it can look very dark and never ending.
When I work with my clients, many of the problems arise from this kind of a shutdown. When emotional pain becomes too much to bear, we willingly or involuntarily shut down our hearts and decide not to face it. My work calls for bringing awareness to this shut down and allow it to be expressed in a safe and very respectful space. Once we allow that sensitivity and vulnerability again, let go of our defences and righteousness, it lets us fall in love with life again. Suddenly the world has colours again and we can now use all the colours of our inner palette to fully paint the canvas of our life!
In my view it is so essential and valuable to open our hearts. Not just to feel free, but to discover the many surprises and treasures it holds. It is like a door that when open, let’s travel us into experiences and dimensions we thought we might have lost. Once we accept this hearts sensitivity and vulnerability, you can expand inside, feel an honesty and openness. Once we relate from this place an almost totally different form of relating is possible. It creates an immediate contact with yourself and thus with the other as well.
The Heart is the Seat of Consciousness
The heart is the centre from which feelings of love, joy, happiness, honesty, respect, compassion, understanding, and generosity emanate. The heart radiates warmth that teaches us to love ourselves in a sincere, non-egoistic way. A heart that is full of love connects with other hearts that radiate the same love. Once forged, these connections are very hard to break, which is why people suffer so much due to the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one. When the centre of our heart has been unlocked and fully opened, it becomes the channel for Universal Love; what the Buddhists call Mahakaruna or ‘The Great Compassion’. Esoteric Christians and Theosophists call this the ‘Christ Consciousness.’ Once opened, the Higher Self or Immortal Divine Soul is able to work through this centre. That is probably why in so many cultures, the heart is said to be the seat of the soul.
When helping my clients, I almost always sense a delicate yet powerful presence in my heart and perceive it as a door to consciousness. Spiritual teachers have always pointed to the heart as the seat of consciousness, and recently Western science has found evidence to support this realization.
It turns out that the heart has its own central nervous system and is not simply under the rule of the brain as formerly believed. Anyone who has taken the time to explore the heart knows this that the heart is the source of our connection to a consciousness greater than the ego.
Approaching life with an open heart means that we have opened the door to this greater consciousness, taking up residence alongside it in the seat of our soul. Fortunately, at this time there is a tremendous amount of support for this shift energetically as well as practically. To some degree, approaching life with an open heart is as simple as shifting your attention from your brain to your heart.
You too can explore your heart anytime, anywhere, but at first it may help to try it in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Simply sit with your eyes closed and draw your breath into your heart. This is your entire chest area. As your breath expands your chest#s inner space, your heart slowly starts to open and to soften.
As you breathe a little bit deeper, you may feel tenderness or a sadness in your heart…..maybe even a sense of relief. You might experience a sense of tightness, or maybe even numbness. Even that is a feeling. Bring some gentle acceptance to all of it. A tender acceptance….any emotions that arise can be witnessed and healed through this presence container. This might relax your physical heart and your spiritual heart and chest area.
The more you practice this, the more you will find presence in your heart and thus to all the situations life brings you.
‘Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
~ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint- Exupery