remember to open your heart
13 Pillars of Enlightenment: How to realize your true nature and end suffering
We spend so much of our time inside our heads — thinking, calculating, wondering, pondering, scheming, planning, imagining, fearing, hoping, and visualizing. But why do we spend so little time in our hearts where the seat of our humanity thrives? By humanity, I use the two definitions: 1. the quality of being humane, and; 2. benevolence. learning concerned with human culture, especially literature, history, art, music, and philosophy. It’s not so much that we forget our hearts, but rather that we have not been trained to abide there. Maybe it’s time to sit with this in meditation.
When I use the word meditation, to meditate on the heart in this instance, I do not mean the popular sort of meditation implying that you close your eyes and try to avoid thoughts. This has its place, but when it comes to opening the heart, I am referring to holding the attention on love and gratitude.
loving kindness meditation
The Buddhists have popularized Metta meditation; it’s also called lovingkindness meditation, and it can be quite powerful to bring the attention away from problem-solving and daily concerns, to what is beyond such ephemeral things. Love has a kind of permanence that can be found nowhere else.
Mindfulness meditation is so very popular, but I am speaking about heartfulness meditation — holding the attention on the source of love, altruism, beauty, and compassion.
In many cases, heartfulness (loving kindness, Metta) meditation comes into conflict with the thinking mind that we have been taught has its origins in our heads. This is because the head-mind, so to speak, is loathe to forgive, to yield to another, to step out of its comfort zone, to risk vulnerability, and to recognize people and occurrences that have brought it discomfort or anger. The heart, however, knows no bounds and finds the good in all people and all else. The heart knows what lies beneath all actions and words.
Even if you have lost a loved one, because such a loss has been heart-rending, loving kindness meditation is a wonderful way recapture that magical feeling of how that person has brightened your life and the lives of others. We so often dwell on the negative and painful, but how about if we dwell on that which offers and exudes love?
compassion is the actor of the heart
Moving the attention from the head to the heart is no easy task for many people. The more steeped we are in the distractions and problems of this world the less we are apt to take time to open the heart. In such a case, focusing on things of the heart is that much more important to do.
“Eyes see only light, ears hear only sound, but a listening heart perceives meaning.”
David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk whose message of gratitude continues to touch the world, explained, “Eyes see only light, ears hear only sound, but a listening heart perceives meaning.” And he said, “As I express my gratitude, I become more deeply aware of it. And the greater my awareness, the greater my need to express it. What happens here is a spiraling ascent, a process of growth in ever expanding circles around a steady center.”
loving for the next few weeks — or more
There are many ways you can open your heart. You can simply sit in a peaceful spot and think of the people who have touched your heart with a gift of love, patience, guidance, or support. And you can take a walk in nature and jus absorb the wonder of the trees, the ground, animals, a stream, or even traffic and busy people. You could also give a friend, relative, or stranger your undivided attention or a helping hand.
The heart is open to all possibilities, but the head-mind is limited to what is self-centered.
a reflection of your self
Any aspect of life can be a reflection of happiness that exists in your heart. You can even consider meditating on people who have caused you problems, because they have taught you something about yourself, or perhaps you can see that the source of their misdeeds is some person or event in their own life that has caused them suffering enough to pass it along to others. We are not necessarily talking about forgiveness here, but rather recognition through open-heartedness. The heart is open to all possibilities, but the head-mind is limited to what is self-centered.
Maybe it’s time to revisit lovingkindness meditation for the next few weeks, or longer. Make this a daily morning ritual if you’d like. Way too much of our time is spent in our heads as we think, scheme, plan, and worry. We need to sit in gratitude for the things and people we love. See what happens, how this changes your life and your outlook. Post your findings to this article or somewhere else so you can pass along this gift of heartfulness.
sit with your heart
Sit with it. Sit with the feeling for your pet and the joy it has brought you, or lie in the sun and absorb the rich feeling that this life can bring. Place your heart on a teacher or parent who has always been there for you. Love is wherever you look; you just need to take the time to feel it.