Our job is not to look for love;
our job is to find all the places within us
that resist it and love them. — Rumi
Of all the topics I could talk about in this book, there is none more important than the heart. The heart is the organ of happiness! Of course I am talking about more than just the organ itself — I am talking about the heart as an emotional, energetic, and spiritual center.
When we hold a loved one close to us, or hug a small kitten or puppy to our chest, we have the ability to feel the tactile sensation of love and tenderness right in our chest. We all know this, though many of us shut off the feelings in our hearts long ago. It is no wonder that heart disease is so prevalent, especially among women who have traditionally worn the mantle of feeling and compassion.
I am not sure that it is still common knowledge that we can use our hearts for guidance and wisdom. Just noticing how our hearts feel at any given moment when we are trying to make a decision can tell us if we are on the right track. Most of us are unaware of how much we hold numbness and hurt in our chests, so it may take a little time to feel and know our hearts again.
Deep Happy Inner Practice: Connecting to the Heart
Relax for a moment and gently take a few breaths into your heart area. Does it feel warm, open, and alive, or numb and tight? Maybe you don't feel much of anything. Please don't worry if that is the case; it's just tension from stress. If you begin to feel and breathe into your heart area, it will begin to open. Sometimes when this happens, we might feel an emotion, or even laugh or cry. These are good things — enjoy them. The heart can heal. You have just begun the process.
In my own life, uncovering and discovering the deep nature of my own heart has been seminal to my personal development. I have written about my emotional difficulties with my families. I had learned to doubt myself and to either shut off or not trust my feelings. I carried deep emotional pain that kept me from trusting or knowing my deeper heart.
One day in college, I met three different girls. Back home, I couldn't decide who to ask out. It didn't occur to me to notice which one I felt comfortable with, or if any of them touched my heart. I was totally in my head. This is a common thing in our culture.
If one or both parents was absent, controlling, emotionally closed, passive aggressive, and so forth, it is imprinted in us and forms a foundational style and tone that shades everything we do. These influences are not all bad — they create many interesting differences in personality and form the basis upon which our life's karmic work is laid out for us. The problematic parts can be healed, and the beneficial aspects can be enhanced or enjoyed.
The Perception of a Loving Attitude Has Many Disguises
"My father loved me!" I often hear in tone that fully expresses a head-love rather than a heart-love. Almost always after a few moments of considering what I am describing, these clients remember the whole picture of their relationship with their parents. When we have a clear idea of where we have been, it's much easier for us to move forward.
When we talk about someone, the tone of our voice always expresses the tone of whatever our relationship with them has been. Love from the heart center is unconditional. It feels nourishing and freeing and loving. Love from the head involves emotional separation and often has rules and judgments; it doesn't feel safe or validate us for who we are, which is the most important nourishment that any of us can receive as we develop.
Most cultures have sayings like "the heart of the matter" or "working with heart." We understand that love and kindness are the quintessential foundation of any healthy society. We even have a holiday dedicated to the heart, Valentine's Day, though the deeper meaning of the day is often overlooked. Is is not a surprise that heart disease is such a common illness in our society, yet when the causes of heart disease are detailed, an emotionally closed heart rarely makes the list.
Feeling Safe Enough to Open Yourself Emotionally
When working with someone in opening their heart, it is common that they express concern. Often they feel that it is unsafe to open themselves emotionally. This is the greatest misunderstanding about the heart. In Chinese medicine and other systems, there are many emotional styles of defense. One style would be creating a wall of density or hyperactivity between the world and ourselves; other examples would be emotionally slipping away and avoiding agreement; or spacing out and disconnecting. Each of these styles relates to specific organ imbalances — liver, spleen, pericardium, and so forth.
When given free rein, the heart uses a very unique style of defense — it protects itself with openness. The heart feels safest when there is complete openness to the world. Things are seen and understood as they are. Difficulties can be anticipated and challenges prepared for. The quality that makes the openness of the heart safe is courage. Being willing to face reality is both the optimal quality of the heart and a process that strengthens and heals the heart.
©2012 by Peter Fairfield. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Weiser Books,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Deep Happy: How to Get There and Always Find Your Way Back
by Peter Fairfield.
Spiritual and transformational healer Peter Fairfield offers tools and practices to achieve everyday happiness. He distills more than 40 years of healing, research, and personal experience into this profound and practical volume. This is a fascinating and provocative look at the deepest workings of the biological, quantum, and sacred reality of who we are. Peter shows how anyone can drop beneath the normal noise of everyday life to experience deep and profound happiness.
About the Author
Peter Fairfield has taught Meditation, Qigong, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, East/West Neuroenergetic physiology, German homeopathy, and other transformational systems. He has studied spiritual and healing systems in Nepal, Tibet, India, Thailand, and China, and worked with many great Tibetan Lamas and yogis in Nepal and Asia. He has been the acupuncturist at the Esalen Institute, founded an acupuncture school, taught acupuncture to the doctor of the king of Bhutan, and toured with Pink Floyd and other celebrities. At one time he was also a bio-feedback therapist at UCLA. Visit him online at www.peterfairfield.com