As a human being, you are entertained by the thoughts you have. You are wired to think. You enjoy your ideas, and many of us enjoy watching our ideas put into action. You travel at light speed through the labyrinthine canals of your brain, relishing wherever your associative and often unpredictable mind takes you. You use language with varying degrees of competency to express yourself and to get things done. Life happens, and your mind creates meaning in its attempt to keep you safe and successful. Oh, the mind and the wondrous web it weaves!
When it comes to matters of the heart, however, you may be less equipped to connect with others and deal with those feelings that give not only pleasure and happiness, but also varying doses of pain and suffering. Love, that mysterious entity widely talked about, sung about, and written about, remains as elusive an experience as the changing weather. Love occurs like an accident, something you fall into and out of, rarely understanding its origin or its power to impact your actions.
In your earliest days, you experience love as that warm, fluid connection between parent and child. You love your parents in a singular, uncomplicated way until something happens that makes you begin to create stories as an attempt to make sense of it all. Thus, the mind begins its work to create meaning, an interpretation that for all intents and purposes seems to you to be “the truth.”
As a child, you experience that love connection more naturally. In your youthful innocence, you adore animals and feel sad when you see them suffer or die. Loving people and animals and treating them right and with respect just feels right. On the flipside, it is just as apparent to a child what doesn’t feel right. This was certainly true for me. I would suffer for weeks with a stomachache if I told a lie. If I was mean to my sister, it certainly didn’t make me feel any better.
"When you’re operating from your heart, you are connecting with your feelings, your desires, and what you’re most committed to—your passion."
Then there’s the space between the head and the heart. You may have heard the old adage “The longest journey a person must take is the eighteen inches from the head to the heart.” When you’re in your head, it’s all about getting things done, checking things off your to-do list, thinking logically, finding reasons, and problem solving. Your head is concerned with your reputation, your opinions, your defenses, and your justifications for the way things are and the way things should be. These aren’t bad things, but if you operate in the world only with your head, everything and everyone else occur as objects to be moved or overcome, problems to be solved. When you’re operating from your heart, you are connecting with your feelings, your desires, and what you’re most committed to—your passion.
After a number of years of doing my best to fake the experience of love, I stepped onto a very different path. I began to realize that it was time to release myself from the interpretations ensnaring my heart. I began to connect to the center of my desire and eventually to an authentic experience of loving that for me occurs more like that experience called just being. I realized that my first step was to listen very carefully to what my body was telling me and embrace those feelings as the messengers of what they represented. I began to listen for and feel what truly brought me alive. The state of being where I wasn’t resisting or protecting became a place I could actually return to by choice. Through the act of centering and opening my heart, I began to actually experience the world beyond my own need to figure things out, to have an answer, to be right about all of it.
And it comes and goes. The mind is so powerful and so conditioned to keep you comfortable that it truly is a dance between the head and the heart. I thank my mind for doing its thing and keeping me safe. But I also know that in order to move beyond the boring and predictable rhythm of my life and out of my comfort zone, I need to connect with my passion to communicate, to connect, and to transform. It’s a lifelong practice. This dance requires a daily ritual called deep listening.