The Path with Heart
by Bill Rishel, appeared originally in Guru Ratings Forum  

The Path with Heart

1. We can live by the mind or we can live from the heart. 
We must choose. We cannot serve two masters.

2. Living from the heart starts with abiding in the heart. 
There is no greater way to love oneself than to abide in the 
heart.

3. We typically have a lot of wounds in our heart. By 
abiding in the heart these wounds come up and we can begin 
to heal. This is an arduous process, but it is what we must 
do to heal. It is having compassion for ourself to do this.

4. As our heart becomes less covered with pain and we 
continue to abide in the heart we become more and more able 
to live in the Now, to enjoy the sweetness of Now.

5. In the beginning heart seems a separate "thing", as
opposed to the mind, for example. But in the end heart is
realized as simply the immediacy of experience. In the
end it is really no different than awareness itself.

But what is "abiding in the heart"?

Abiding in the Heart

For abiding in the heart, I do not recommend concentrating 
on the physical heart, nor on any sense of heart "chakra" 
either.

I can tell you what has worked for me. Perhaps it will be 
effective for you.

My approach to the heart is to pay attention to my feelings. 
By feelings I mean something different than emotions, though 
emotions are related.

Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and gotten a 
weird creepy feeling about the place? Many people tend to 
ignore such feelings but one can develop a sensitivity to 
one's feelings and learn to honor them. This is also called 
"listening to one's gut".

So the first step is paying attention to and becoming very 
sensitive to one's feelings. Some will find such awareness 
and sensitivity to feeling automatic and natural. For others 
it will not be. In any case, awareness and sensitivity to 
feeling is essential to "abiding in the heart".

The next step in learning to abide in the heart is paying 
attention to and becoming very sensitive to the feelings 
within oneself. These are feelings that arise more from 
within than in response to the environment. They can be 
feelings of apprehension, an ache in the heart, longing, 
etc. These feelings can be generally categorized as "deep 
feelings". In my case such feelings would typically be 
located in the chest area. What I am emphasizing here are 
feelings that have the quality of a physical sensation. 
There will typically be an emotional content aspect, such as 
"apprehension", but also a physical sensation, which will 
typically be in the chest area.

When these "inner feelings" arise, my practice has been to 
become very aware of the feelings. If possible get away from 
distracting external stimuli so one can devote one's 
attention to the feelings that are coming up. Begin to "zoom 
in" on the feelings. Go into it more and more until what was 
once a tiny bleep on the radar now virtually fills the 
awareness. Pay special attention to the sensations connected 
with the feelings. Sometimes these sensations might be like 
a subtle pin prick, or a kind of dullness, or an ache. The 
kinds of sensation I am referring to are subtle. I am not 
speaking here of gross muscular tension. In my case they are 
typically felt in the chest, but can also occur in other 
places such as the pit of the stomach, solar plexus, etc. 
And the real key here is that such sensations have a special 
poignancy. They are vague, amorphous, and generally 
unexplainable. The mind will want to go elsewhere. But the 
practice of abiding in the heart is to say "No" to the mind 
and to go into the subtly poignant feelings one may find 
arising within.

Looking at the emotions takes us off into the psychological 
content. That isn't what we want. The emotional aspect is 
important for identifying something we need to go into, but 
once it is recognized that something is "up", from that 
point it is the "sensations" of the feelings that are 
important. Emotions are just thought that springs from 
feeling. Such "psychological content" can be endlessly 
spewed forth and gone into with no avail. The cause of the 
emotions, i.e. that from which the emotions spring forth, is 
the embedded encodings of feeling.

As we "zoom in" on these feelings the sensations start 
getting richer and more complex. As we continue to "go in" 
the feelings start to change as a result of more awareness, 
richer perspective, and insight.

It is as if we have "freeze-dried feeling" in our heart, but 
by bringing awareness to it a softening, a dissolving, and 
expanding begins to happen. With the expanding there is a 
seeing, a knowing, a deep apprehension of the quality and 
nature of the embedded feeling-stuff. As the embedded 
material is softened, expanded, and gone into the dross is 
burned in the light of awareness. We begin to feel lighter, 
more open, as a burden we have been bearing is released.

Note that it is not the embedded feelings that are what is 
important. It is as if there were a cave wherein you knew 
there was great treasure, but the passageway was obstructed 
by rocks, branches, and other debris. In this image, the 
cave is the heart, the treasure is the purity of deep 
feeling one comes to know by entering into the heart. The 
debris obstructing the entryway is the embedded 
feeling-stuff that must gone through and cleared in order to 
enter the wonder of the heart.

Through much deep practice with "inner feelings" there 
develops a sense of the "feeling center" where the inner 
feelings worked on tend to arise. We are now starting to 
develop a sense of the heart as a location for the emergence 
of feeling. At this stage we are truly "abiding in the 
heart". As this practice matures, we become more and more 
able to stay in our "feeling center" while engaged in our 
daily activities. We become more and more able, simply and 
always, to Abide in the Heart.

Conclusion

In the end there is a "going beyond" all that is described 
above. For in the end there is just a rapt immediacy of "now" 
with no sense of an "I" having an experience. There are no 
longer distinctions such as feelings, etc., or if so only 
rarely. Descriptions of "realization", "liberation" and the 
like tend to portray such an expansive sense of illumination, 
and while true do not really show a way. The way, at least as 
I can speak to that, is one of dedication and profound 
attention to the immediacy of experience. The practice of 
"abiding in the heart" outlined above is what I suggest as a
grounded walking into the dissolution of self and realization 
of the brightness that is.

Bill Rishel

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