Mindfulness and The Journey Back To My Heart
Open Heart Meditation helps me experience love and happiness beyond conventional mindfulness.
I have not had a very good relationship with my mind. Somewhere along the way, I lost the volume button, and the pause button broke, and the off switch to my thoughts didn’t seem to come in my package. It was strictly in play mode. The quieter my outer world, the louder my thoughts were, the more annoyed I was by them. I honestly tried to calm my mind. A daily I hour meditation practice, starting when I was 22 was a serious commitment. I liked to call it my thinkitation. It was a great time to daydream, plan, and sometimes worry. I was being mindful of my thoughts. Watching them come and go, and keeping a degree of separation from the emotions that came up.
Did I feel calmer after an hour of sitting? Absolutely. Did it help me? Yes. I was able to separate myself from some of the impulses of instant gratification, from following thought patterns that were self-destructive and unproductive. And just making the choice to do it was enormously helpful for my self- esteem, knowing I was following through with a commitment to myself, not rewarded by anyone else but my own being. But after 30 years of committed practice, I wanted something more.
Some place of Love, welcoming, rightness. I kept hoping that a quiet mind would lead me there, that mindfulness would still the waves of my consciousness and lead me into deeper waters of fulfillment.
“I absolutely knew that Love was housed in my heart, not my head“
I also knew, that Love is what I was here for. It was the only thing that made sense in the world of struggle I lived in, because in spite of my meditation practice, I was often not a happy person – happier than I had been, but still very emotional. I had anorexia, bulimia, up and down relationships, and was constantly dealing with my emotions. I learned to muddle through, navigating each day like riding in a small boat on a rough sea.
I now understand a very simple principle that was not available to me then. The mind will never be the source of Love or joy. It may be calmer for periods, but then something can stimulate it and off it goes like a wild stallion finally let out of a corral, kicking up desires in its wake.
Sometimes I feel silly now, realizing that all that time what I wanted was right under my nose – literally. My spiritual heart, patient, holding the treasure all along, was just waiting for me to come in for a landing.
It is not made deliberately difficult so only the sincere seeker will find it. It is made as obvious as possible for us. The Heart is where we place our hand when we are feeling something beautiful, something that touches us very deeply. The Heart is where we feel the feeling of warmth and joy when we have a deep connection with someone. Our heart literally seems to “go out to them”. But because we are mindful and thoughtful creatures, and spend so much time thinking, we often think that it must be in our heads and minds that the answer lies, and that all the philosophers, and thinkers can help us find True Joy.
I went to a conference on the philosophy of beauty, a requirement while I was working on my doctorate. It was held at a resort in the Yucatan, two hours into the jungle. We sat in a hotel room, looking at power points while discussing the nature of beauty, while all around us was the jungle, full of the most vibrant life I had ever seen. I began to stare out the window, feeling that something was terribly wrong with what we were doing. I became more and more uncomfortable, until I felt like I was committing a crime by sitting in that room, separated from the beauty that was all around me. Finally, I walked out, free. Walking to the nearest road, I found myself in among a group of children on their way to school. They started singing to me with joy and delight, such a strange looking person walking along with them. Beauty was in the huts, the air, the smiles on their faces. Beauty was in the butterflies that filled the air of the jungle. I was walking in it, steeping, breathing it in. It was life. Life is filled with it. And through it all, like a golden thread, there is Love.
That was one of my wake up moments. I am sure that you have had yours: The birth of a child, the coming of Spring, perhaps even the dying of a loved one. These moments are so alive, so filled with Life. They are heart full. But we don’t need to wait until they happen on us, or we stumble into them. We can go to their home, our very own heart. The way is natural and easy, and so filled with blessings.
Our heart is naturally calm and peaceful. Through it we can feel deeply connected with others in a way our mind never can. Gratitude lives in our heart, and so does our very own, personal, connection with our Source. Wisdom, compassion, understanding, all of the truly “human” traits, are all in heartfulness.
We just need to choose our heart, and the rest is naturally given.