Listen Up! Why Being in Your Heart is Better Than In Your Head
— Robert Bulwer-Lytton
When you fall in love, you feel your heart flutter, beat loudly or leap for joy; when you're rejected, your heart breaks. You are called heartless or cold-hearted when you show no care or love...and big-hearted when you extend your concern to others. You "take things to heart" or "talk heart-to-heart" about deeply personal issues. You love someone "from the bottom of your heart" but are half-hearted about something when you're emotionally uninvolved. You experience your heart as the center of your feelings, as seen on Valentine's Day when love-filled hearts abound. You know this instinctively, as you always physically point to your heart when you say "I" or want to express your deeper feelings.
Yet your heart is so much more than a vessel for romance. It has been described as the king, with the mind as the king's adviser. When faced with a decision, the king may ask his advisers for advice, may even send him out into the world to gather information, but ultimately it is the king that makes the final decision. Even though the advisers do not always agree with the king's decision, the king is invariably right, because the king's view not only sees the bigger picture but is also aware of the needs of others.
In the same way, when faced with a decision or conflict, your mind may come up with numerous, different and quite logical reasons why you should act as it advises, but if you listen to and trust your heart—however illogical or irrational it may seem—it is usually right and you are happier as a result.
There is great brilliance and beauty inherent within the mind, because it is capable of understanding the most intricate scientific and mathematical theories and can make complicated corporate decisions. Yet the same mind can get caught up in trivia and nonsense, becoming upset or even unglued over a seemingly harmless remark. It runs your life, pushing and pulling you in all directions, from attraction to repulsion, creating endless dramas in acting out your insecurities and fears, because it is not in touch with your deeper feelings. Living inside your head all the time is actually not much fun!
While the mind is the content of who you are, your heart is your essence. Your true heart is not subject to chaos or limited by pain, fear and neuroses, but is joyful, creative and loving. Some believe the heart can be too uncertain and even misguided, but that is the head talking! It is actually a source of great richness, and this wealth is one that cannot be squandered or lost. It is the core, the essence of your being, a reservoir of joy, powerful love and infinite compassion that lies within you.
Try Ed and Deb's opening heart meditation
Opening Heart Meditation
Settle your body in an upright and seated posture. Bring your focus to the natural flow of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Just watch your breath as your mind settles.
Now bring your attention to the heart space in the center of your chest. And just breathe in and out of this space. As you do so, with each in-breathe feel your heart gently opening and softening; with each out-breathe release any tension or resistance.
As you do this, silently repeat, "My heart is opening and softening." You may experience great joy or even sadness. Let the feelings come and go, while you just keep breathing into your heart space.
Stay here as long as you wish. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go. Gently open your eyes and take the peace of your heart with you through your day.
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be The Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Care2.com. Ed and Deb write Sprint's The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.
Keep Reading More from Ed and Deb Shapiro:
The beauty of living in the moment
Feeling insecure? Get a self-esteem boost!
How meditation can calm your mind