It is February—the month of love, so, in the spirit of the season, here is a note about the importance of healing your own heart first.
At the higher levels of the world’s wisdom traditions, the differences grow dim in the light of their shared messages. Central among these, is the appeal to tend to your own healing and transformation, first and foremost. They say it is essential to purify yourself before trying to fix the world. In other words, although we do exactly the opposite, in the form of finger-pointing, whistle-blowing and fault-finding, the call is to look to the inside before looking to the outside.
Rather than simply take it for granted, I would like to explore the reasons why this makes sense.
Firstly, because when we are hurting, depressed and despondent, or, angry, annoyed and angst-ridden, we are less likely to be open to the needs of others. We are, instead, more likely to close ourselves off and tuck ourselves away into a protective cocoon where we are simultaneously unwilling, unavailable and unable to be of service to anybody else.
Secondly, because while we’re on this planet, the very least we can do—even if we don’t do much good—is refrain from causing harm. And when we’re suffering, we’re likely to lash out on others in myriad ways, from the little things, like general rudeness, to the big things, like the Columbine massacres.
Finally, in a more etheric sense, an open and balanced heart center—what the Yogis call the anahata chakra—can have a natural healing effect on others. When we heal ourselves and become peaceful on the inside and our hearts start to open, we tend to radiate warmth, and that creates joy all around.
Edited by Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor.
Donna Quesada has a background in Zen Buddhism and is certified to teach Yoga in two different traditions. She is the author of Buddha in the Classroom; Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers and is a contributor to The Poetry of Yoga. She lives with her family in the heart of cinema land, Culver City, CA, where you’ll likely find her walking her nutty little terrier Marcel. Websites here & here.