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
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"
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
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.
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.