One of the most life changing truths I have learned, and am now beginning to understand fully, is that we are living in the age of “Heart Intelligence.” Scientists are now discovering that the heart is not just a cardiovascular organ, but a nervous system on its own right, much like the brain. The heart contains over 40,000 neurons; and Dr. David Armour at the University of Montreal has researched what’s called “cellular memory,” a phenomenon shown in heart transplant recipients whose feelings and interests reflect those of the donor.
These new discoveries support what ancient philosophies–and our own instincts–have always known: that the “heart center” holds much wisdom and intelligence. Depending on what spiritual school of thought you come from, there are at least 7 chakras, or energy centers, that are within and around the body, and each chakra is represented by a color vibration. The heart chakra, also known as the fourth chakra or anahata in Sanskrit, meaning “unstruck” or “unhurt,” is represented most often by the color green. This is the place within ourselves that we should be living. To live from the “heart” is about more than just what we call “following the heart.” It is about more than simply experiencing emotions, although this is also a part of it. But the most important part of living from the heart is listening to its wisdom, asking it questions, and using its intelligence and intuition to guide your everyday life.
Many years ago, when I was first introduced to the idea of living from the heart center, I was not fully able to grasp the meaning. I struggled to figure out how to move myself from the head/brain center to my heart center. In yoga and meditation classes, I created my own little practice in order to do so. When my teacher would say, “Now move into your heart center,” I would imagine a pink chaise longue in the heart area of my body, and see myself resting there, peacefully. It may sound silly, but it worked for me very well, after many occasions, and soon it was easy for me to “move into my heart center.”
So what does living from the heart really mean in your everyday life? The best way to describe what it has become in my life is that I now make decisions based on how I feel, rather than solely on what I think. I pay attention to the sensations in my physical body, particularly, in that area, when I am asked a question, or faced with a dilemma, or simply have to choose between one thing or another. The body always tells us what feels right, and if we listen, and tune into the heart, we can hear it speaking to us in a quiet, but confident way. The heart is very clear about what decisions we should make. It is no coincidence that one of the major killers of women is heart disease. Women tend to have a closer heart connection, because we are more accustomed to tuning in to how we “feel” about a situation. But this also makes us more sensitive, and we tend to absorb a lot of hurts and ills into the heart center. This center fails us when we ignore it, or neglect to nurture and heal it.
Living from the heart requires practice. Human beings are taught that the brain is the engine that drives the vehicle of life. The brain/thought systems are important, but the heart is acting in your best interest; seeking growth and expansion in all areas of your internal and external worlds. Your heart is available to guide you to your deepest and most authentic desires. The heart center gives birth to our most vibrant creativity and passions, and gives us the ability to have compassion for ourselves and others. Of all of the dynamic changes occurring during this Aquarian age, the most relevant and life changing to me, is the recognition of the amazing intelligence, unending joy, and wisdom of the heart.
To bring more awareness to your heart center, try:
Sit comfortably either with your legs crossed or tucked underneath, with your sitz bones resting on a yoga blanket or pillow. (Your feet will be outside of your feet and knees can come slightly apart). Take a deep breath and hold, while picking up your pelvis (you will feel your outer hips engaging). Hold you breath in your root chakra, then exhale and release. When you breathe in next, hollow out and engage your core while holding the breath in your solar plexus; exhale and release. Then, breathe deeply into your heart, and hold it at your heart center; feel the energy warming your heart, and give thanks for the love that it gives to yourself and others. Exhale, and return to normal ujjayi breaths to recover. You may also use the lotus mudra over the heart to reinforce the loving meditation.
Related: Should You Try Kundalini Yoga?
Photo: Chiarashine via Flickr; Peaceful Dumpling