April 4, 2014

This Is How We Listen to Our Hearts. ~ Emily Bartran

human heart

My heart and I have been working on our communication skills lately.

I have been asking her to please let me in on the secrets of her world—what makes her well with emotion and what makes her recede into herself, near-silently beating and refusing to be acknowledged?

She has been asking me to please open my ears, insisting that the answers beat through me with each throbbing whisper—I am just not listening carefully enough.

The other day, we had a breakthrough.

I was on my mat, somewhere in my glide from downward dog to plank, when I found my knees on the ground and an overwhelming heaviness in my chest. My breathing deepened and my eyes watered, and then released.

It did not last for more than 20 seconds, but in that moment—we spoke.

It was fleeting, it was wordless, and it literally knocked me off of my feet.

For the first time in a very long time, my heart and I gave in to one another. At the very moment I happened to be listening, she happened to have something to say. In the past, we have had similar opportunities, but one or both of us got cold feet, and the moment passed in familiar silence—but not this time.

Still, we have a long way to go.

I am currently trying to engage in a conversation with her about whether the two of us want the same thing out of this life we are leading together, out of this body we coexist in, out of any and everything we experience as one.

As it stands, the conversation is not going extremely well. It essentially consists of me bullying her for answers, and in turn bullying myself for not being able to figure them out on my own, and her steadfastly beating along, waiting and waiting and waiting until I figure out what it really means to listen.

And therein lies the problem.

I have not yet learned how to speak her language, making it nearly impossible to interpret the answers she is giving me.

Our hearts don’t speak in words, or in cohesive, structured trains of thought. They speak in beats, in rising and falling syncopations, in tempo, in echoes.

If we want to hear our hearts, we have to feel them. We have to be physically aware and in tune with what they are saying through their movements, their rhythms, their pulses.

I’m also not sure that hearts speak very often without being provoked. It is their job to be dependable, unwavering, and relatively even keel. When they cause a scene out of the blue—bring us to our knees, take our breath away, consume our entire body with their heavy pounding—it is only because we have been so neglectful in our listening that they need to get our attention, before both of us get hurt.

Other than that, though, they need questions to be asked in their own tongue—actions, physical movements, experiences.

We have to get out in the world, try new things, open ourselves up to people and places and opportunities that might end up being magical or might end up being devastating—I am not particularly good at living life in this manner, which might explain why my heart has been so hard to hear lately.

We need to physically place our questions in front of our hearts.

It is in our heart’s reactions to those moments that we find the answers we are looking for. 

Listen for it. Feel for it.

Is she still silent? Barely noticeable other than that we are still standing, so she must be working properly? That probably means she is complacent, but not impassioned—she deserves better than complacency, after all she does for us.

Is she screaming, barely able to be contained, sending out warning signals begging to be heard? Well, she is certainly beyond complacency, but she has within her a wisdom that we do not, and her warnings should be heeded. These messages may be intoxicating in the moment, but she cannot sustain them for long.

What about the moments that make her beat loudly, clearly, but without haste? The moments that make her presence notable, but not overwhelming—when she is empowered, but not overworked?

I am still searching for the moments that evoke this last response from her, so I can only speculate as to what these messages may mean, but it seems that this is what she is looking for—a happy medium that is not at all mediocre.

It allows her to spread her wings and flutter, but does not make her flail. It moves her enough to shine a spotlight on her dancing, but she does not cause a scene. It gives her a voice—a booming, sensational, mesmerizing voice—that never has to be raised in order to be heard.

This is the language of our hearts. 

Once we learn to speak it, we learn how to listen. And once she knows we are really, truly listening, she will answer any question we place in front of her.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant archives


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