In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are the same word. So when we hear the word ‘mindfulness,’ we have to inwardly also hear ‘heartfulness’ in order to grasp it even as a concept, and especially as a way of being.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Heart is a vital space of our being. It’s central to our human expression on Earth and our spirituality both here and beyond. The Heart is a space of loving in the divine sense, and intuiting in the deepest sense.
In the Heart space we’re able to embrace life in all its permutations and remain open. If we’ve settled into the vastness of Heart space, little, dark emotions don’t cling. We still feel them, and this is important acknowledgment, but like the sky which isn’t limited by clouds, the Heart breathes air and gives us context and perspective.
Every time someone throws their emotions at you it is a test for you to see if you can maintain the love within you that is the core essence of your being.
— Anthousa Helena
The Heart breathes living spiritual resources such as:
It’s a rich field, wide-ranging and fruitful.
May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Awakening can only really happen in the Heart. The Heart has the kind of specialized intelligence and refinement to utterly transform us. We don’t really change our mind on the very important things; we change our Heart.
An understanding dawns in Heart that’s real. The mind goes through changes too but often it’s hesitant, indecisive, muddy or it vacillates. It can become stable, there’s that opportunity, but usually not on its own. The mind is also not limited to the cognitive functions of the brain. That’s the most common association, but mind belongs to realms other than our egoic existence in a physical world. Certainly there’s a mind in the cranium. There’s also a mind that’s timeless and nonlocal.
People pursue spirituality with their brain: that is where they are mistaken. Spirituality is attained through the heart. What do I mean by the heart? Is it the nervous center in the midst of the breast, the small piece of flesh that doctors call the heart? No, the definition of the heart is that it is the depth of the mind, the mind being the surface of the heart. That in us which feels is the heart, that which thinks is the mind. It is the same thing which thinks and feels, but the direction is different: feeling comes from the depth, thought from the surface.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan
Let’s look into what the Sufi master is saying above. Firstly it upends our individual and societal notion that a thought-first approach to life is the most wise. It also puts into proper perspective the truth that we can’t divorce feeling from thought. Notice it’s “feeling” and not emotion. (Learn more about this here.) And feeling and thought are essentially the same; only the depth is different.
We may have a thought about what to have for breakfast without much consequence if it doesn’t come from a great depth. The same isn’t true when considering the great questions and choices of life. It’s especially challenging when we deny the spiritual dimension of life, or attempt to connect with our spirituality without feeling, with only a dry, mental reasoning.
Thought divorced from feeling is a recipe for all the ills we currently witness in society. It’s a unsavory recipe for own lives as well. This recipe leaves out a key ingredient: The input of the Heart.
In the spiritual traditions of India, as elsewhere, the ‘heart’ refers not so much to the physical organ as to a psychospiritual structure corresponding to the heart muscle on the material plane. This spiritual heart is celebrated by yogins and mystics as the seat of the transcendental Self. It is called hrid, hridaya, or hrit-padma (‘heart lotus’). It is often referred to as the secret ‘cave’ (guha) in which the yogin must restrain his mind.
— Georg Feurstein
The Heart space is an entirely human experience. Every layer of our human experience is lived in the Heart space. The emotional heart is where we sense, hold and process emotions that accompany the act of living and interpersonal relationships. While emotions are valuable and bring a richness to our existence, this is also the origin of our wounding in most cases. Whether our wounds are big or small, being circumscribed by emotions is to remain unawakened to the greater field that’s available.
The organ of the heart is a huge part of our physical lives. Its physiological function can be seen as life itself. And currently there are major developments in measuring and understanding the heart’s electromagnetic power and benefits (click to learn more).
The ‘spiritual’ Heart is the field which gives both the physical and emotional heart a home. Its greatest power is as a standalone field of consciousness. When our emotional lives heal, a gateway opens to the actual Heart, the portal that’s patiently there for us, ready to gift the greatest treasures of the spiritual life. This is where the resources listed above reside and where we can both engage and embody them. The Heart is both beyond and here. It’s timeless and in time; practical and eternal.
It’s highly recommended that you also read this previous post: Awareness: Journey into the Heart-Mind.
When the heart opens, we forget ourselves and the world pours in: this world and also the invisible world of meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be. When the heart opens, everything matters, and this world and the next become one and the same.
— Roger Housden
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Reiki Master-Teacher of Authentic Japanese Usui Reiki in Fort Lauderdale at my South Florida Oasis Reiki Dojo. Meditation, Healing, and Spirituality training and services, and educator.