Mind the Heart

I’ve witnessed and analysed many aspects of my life when I’ve sat in meditation, and last night was no exception. My meditation centred around the heart, as it so often does. Around me, I’ve got some wonderful kind friends and family. We laugh, have fun and know that we love and care for each other. Yet in spite of this, I felt a real sense of the fear lurking within our hearts, hiding in our inner world where no one (not even ourselves) can see.

My vision was of a few of us sitting on the floor in a circle, gathering and holding each other in a sacred space. In this circle we were able to face each other, to look deeply and honestly into each other’s heart space, without judgement. It was through this vision that I developed an awareness of the elements affecting our heart centre and, as I analysed each person’s heart (including my own) I saw the obstacle in the heart was FEAR. It tightens the heart, emotionally closing it down.

When our heart is fearful, we automatically try to protect the heart space. It’s an unconscious reaction. But if we take a step into the unknown, take a moment to search within our hearts, we may become aware of what’s causing the fear to arise. Fear can take many shapes and forms. Fear may present itself as depression, anxiety, stress, strength, pride or anger.

We love our children yet sometimes we sense a distance with them. Some parents relate easily with one child but find it difficult with another child. Perhaps they are withdrawn or not studious enough. Judgement of our children are a reflection of ourselves. We question our ability to be a good parent. Our parenting abilities can seize our hearts with fear, not knowing if we’re doing it right or making a complete mess. Fear affects the ability to make confident, consistent and rational family decisions.

A death in the family is a tremendous blow to the heart. The heart is overwhelmed with grief, sadness, depression and anger. We feel broken. How can the heart recover from such a setback? The path through this depends on the individual, but I do believe we need to let grief become our friend and not our enemy. What I mean is to embrace the pain and sorrow, acknowledge and get to know it, befriend it. By allowing sorrow to unfold, it will not allow grief to take hold of your heart. But by not dealing with the loss, stepping back into routine and putting on a brave face, the consequence can be catastrophic. The heart heals shut – as though you’ve locked the door and thrown away the keys. Where love once filled the heart, anger and fear develop, leading to some regrettable decisions with children, family matters, relationships and choices in partners.

Fear blocks our heart from love. Some struggle to find love, wrestle to keep love and others grapple with loving themselves and their body. Love seems elusive, but if we’re honest with ourselves and examine our experiences, we’ll discover the reasons why love doesn’t come easily. Whether we’re aware of it or not, relationships directly impact our self-confidence. Failed relationships, divorce, abusive partners, difficult rapport or affairs cause our emotions to tremble. If we consistently find ourselves in these challenging situations, we eventually lose our confidence and instead, foster an inability to make the right choice in a partner or feel that we’re not loveable, we don’t deserve love. We close our heart to love, it’s the only way to keep it safe.

Our lifestyle, food and addictions are all vulnerable to the fear within our hearts. A lack of love for self is an indication that we no longer care; we overindulge in food, we create addictions to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Because of the fear of love, we stop loving ourselves. Abusive relationships, depression and grief may all cause the lack of self-love. In order to turn it around, it’s necessary to stop, review our experiences and listen to our heart to find the cause of fear. Only with this knowledge will it be possible to encourage lifestyle changes.

The best approach to learn about ourselves is to review our relationships in life and the people around us. Is that connection based on love or fear? When our heart has love, giving to ourselves and others will feel easy and good, without effort. On the other hand, fear is exhausting and eventually leads to feelings of anxiety or resentment.

In yogic terms, the heart chakra is called Anaharta and in Buddhist traditions, we refer to the heart as Mind. We need to ‘Mind our Heart’.

Each day, take a few moments to stop and look inside your heart, observe and listen to what you sense there, without judgement. Just listen. Self-analysis and awareness are simple methods to unblock and open the heart centre.

Through this we might not change a whole lot, but we can be mindful of the choices, thoughts and actions we make in our lives.