It seems that now we are inundated with messages about living in the heart.
It’s the latest catch-phrase. But really, what does it all mean?
It means living in balance with emotions and thoughts. It means allowing one’s heart to lead the way in decision making and actions. It does not mean letting unchecked feelings rule your life. But it also means not letting unexpressed feelings limit your interaction and connection with others.
Most of us have been brought up to be logical and rational; to hide our emotions and just “get over it.” The problem with this is that, in turn, we can’t solve today’s problems that were created by analytic and mind-based approaches. I’m convinced that the analytic approach is what got us to where we are today, to many of the distressing situations we see in our own lives, communities and on a global scale.
So the question is: how do we embrace heart-based living and be effective as leaders and decision-makers in these times of change?
I believe we can do this by using a heart-based approach, which I have distilled into to three simple steps: Dive in, tune in and lighten up.
It really is a simple process. It starts with a choice to dive into heart-based feelings and explore what is there. If you can’t or won’t do that, in my experience, you’re putting a veneer over the truth of your existence.
Mastering our emotions through the heart is the key in this time of intense cultural transition. When we check into our hearts, we tend to make wiser and more compassionate choices. With that, we tend to live more peaceful and connected lives.
Step One: Dive In.
The first step is to have the willingness to dive in to the emotions locked inside the heart. This does not mean re-experiencing the traumas of the past; rather, it is acknowledging that your heart had to shut down in the past as a way of dealing with the hurts all humans experience.
By diving in to the heart, we are allowing the awareness of feelings and emotions to surface. In this step, we dive in and touch what’s been locked inside. We follow the breath into our hearts and listen.
We can ask “what’s in my heart?” Usually it’s a two or three word message that bubbles up, like: “I’m afraid,” or “be careful,” or “go for it!”
Step Two: Tune In.
The next step is to tune into the feelings behind these initial pearls of heart-wisdom, asking “What is my heart telling me?” If you hear: “I’m afraid” or “be careful,” then you may need to spend some time allowing the associated emotional imprints to emerge.
We do that by feeling whatever is there and accepting the feeling no matter what it is: fear, anger, sadness, depression, happiness, joy. Tune into it; allow it to move and flow.
As we allow ourselves to tune into these emotional states, we move the energy. When energy moves, there is room for heart-wisdom to emerge. Tuning in to the heart is what takes practice, because we’re used to turning to the mind to find our answers. But the truth is, our hearts know.
Our minds will rationalize or justify. But the authentic, tuned-in feelings of our hearts will always lead us to compassionate and wise choices.
Step Three: Lighten Up!
This is an essential part of the 3-step process, and the final step! It means that after we do some intense emotional listening, we consciously choose to relax, enjoy and embrace the gifts in life.
At first, we have to really focus on this and make it a priority. Because in dealing with emotions, we can easily get stuck in a state of perpetual listening and forget to enjoy each day.
In this final step, we commit to looking around us and seeing beauty and joy, even the small things, like a flower or a bird’s song or the smile of a loved one. Living in the heart is a balanced place, and in that balance, we make room for more joy and peace.
We do this not by ignoring, but by embracing the wisdom of the heart.
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Assist Ed: Katharine Spano/Ed: Sara Crolick