Recently I went to see my favorite folk musician, Joe Crookston, play at the local coffeehouse. He has a beautiful voice, is a wonderful songwriter and storyteller, and is extremely talented on the many instruments he plays, from guitar to banjo to fiddle.
And yet as I listened to him play, and as I watched the crowd deeply moved by his performance, his real talent was obvious: he gives his whole heart to his musical expression. And he was clearly enjoying every moment. His soulful, passionate performance was palpable.
And it reminded me that that is what we are here to do…..to find out what makes our heart sing, and to allow that expression to come forth, in whatever form that might be. Whether that is playing music, painting, surfing a wave, cooking a meal, volunteering at a local hospital, or teaching yoga, when we allow our lives to be sourced from our hearts longing, magic happens.
When we look at children, by and large we recognize that they are instinctively connected to their hearts. Their ability to give themselves over to tears one moment, laughter the next, and then turn around and have a full blown temper tantrum, reminds us that we too, were once open and undefended and unafraid to meet each moment with the fullness of our being.
We are not here on this earth to tolerate it, resist it, or to transcend it. We are here to serve as a channel to bring Spirit into this world, to infuse matter with Spirit in a union that explodes with beauty, love, and wonder. The journey to find our Real Self, the deepest truth of who we are, cannot be discovered without the wisdom of the heart. Our hearts are not just mushy, sentimental organs of romance, but strong, wise compasses that lead us home. They speak to us through our longings, our desires, our passion, our enthusiasm. It is more than time we listened.
So what gets in the way of listening to and trusting our heart?
♦ Fear. We have come to believe it is not safe to express our uncensored passion. We have come to believe it’s safer to hide, play small, deliver what others want of us, and never color outside the lines. These beliefs are mere illusion. The truth is, it is not safe to hold back! When we become numb, offering ourselves halfway or not at all to life, holding back in protection and apprehension, we create lives that are not connected with love and beauty. We leave a void that is filled with indifference, hopelessness, despair, cynicism, judgment, and yes, hate. And that can reinforce our belief that we need to protect ourselves. When we deeply understand that our defenses bring us exactly what we are defending against, we become willing to consider another way of living.
♦ Pride. We have constructed an idea of who we think we are, or at least who we want others to think we are, and who we think we need to be in order to be loved, accepted, and admired. And we don’t want anyone, including ourselves, to know that we have constructed an impossible ideal that we can never live up to. And that it isn’t necessary, or even desirable! Pride keeps us separated from our hearts, separated from others, and separated from a God of our understanding. It prevents us from telling the truth of who we are in this moment, and in so doing prevents the humility that is necessary for real healing, growth, and transformation.
♦ Self-Will. While our ability to take action and make things happen in this world is a beautiful and necessary skill, it was never meant to be the main act. Our society rewards those with an over-developed self-will, pushing harder and harder and harder upstream against the river in competition and consumption and dominance, when our soul is crying out to be carried down stream by the current to the ocean of cooperation, connection, wholeness and union.
Too often we hide our light under that metaphorical bushel, and content ourselves with going through the motions of life without the passion, the presence, the purpose, and the whole-self engagement that happens when the heart and mind and will are in harmony. Maybe we allow it to flow in certain areas of our lives. Occasionally. Or maybe we have lost touch with it altogether, a distant memory of childhood that we have “grown up” from. With all that is tragic and unjust in this world today, more than ever Life needs the uninhibited expression of our deepest longing. The world needs our hearts!
When we use our will to consciously face our pride and our fear, to admit to the parts of us that are less than admirable and terrified of being abandoned, rejected, and hurt, we find the courage to let go of the defenses and pretenses and allow the wisdom of the heart to guide our lives. We find that we don’t have to be perfect or better than others in order to be worthy, loveable, and special.
Pathwork Lecture 138 offers a beautiful prayer we can bring to our meditation in our efforts to align with our hearts:
“ Whatever I already am, I want to devote to life. I deliberately want life to make use of the best of what I have and who I am. I may not be sure at this moment in what way this could happen, and even if I have ideas, I will allow for the greater intelligence and wisdom deep within me to guide me….For whatever I give to life, I have received from it, and I wish to return it to the great cosmic pool to bring more benefit to others. This, in turn, must inevitably enrich my own life to the exact measure that I willingly give to life: for truly life and I are one.”