Author ~ Artist ~ Educator

OCT 2016, SPIRITUAL COURAGE in 21st CENTURY: Heart Centered Living

sand-sunset-ocean-bestphoto-24-copy Courage, spirituality and the 21st century. What do we have when these three collide & morph into coherent engagement? Let’s go back to the beginning of the last century – 1900. In that year – Frank Baum, published The Wizard of Oz. In the OZ story, the famous tin-man, who thinks he is lacking a heart, requests one from the Wizard – (who we eventually know is a fake wizard, but, we might concede, a wise man.)

The wizard says (movie version):“You have a heart, tin man, – where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds…their hearts are no bigger than yours. They have one thing you do not have, a testimonial. Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I have the pleasure of awarding you with a- small-token-of-our-affection medal…”and he presents the Tin Man with a ticking- heart-clock-medal.

I love the WIZARD’s message. He reminds us what it is to be human and to value the heart. So, how do we find our courage and our heart and engage in the 21st century with clarity and inspired hope? We are battling such difficult conditions. It is easy to be discouraged.

I believe the way is through the heart. It is that simple. But, to be honest, it is not easy. It requires living your truth from your heart not your head – and living through challenges. Let’s remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach for a moment – one of popular cultures most iconic “get-up-and-go” stories. Jonathan was a seagull that wanted to fly higher, faster, more than the prescribed limits of seagulls. In his story he proceeds with his heart’s desire – and gets thrown out of his flock for it. He wanders in the wilderness, lonely and confused. He perseveres and eventually finds a new tribe of gulls, who lead their lives from their hearts, as well. Eventually he returns to his childhood flock to show other gulls the way to live their dreams from their hearts. He was more at peace at the end of the story, than he ever imagined possible.

I am inspired by these fictional stories of the heart-lived life. This intuitive-heart-centered approach to life has always been my way. And, I have searched for people — politicians, scientists and religious leaders — whose vision would resonate with mine.

One is politician and poet Viktor Havel, former Pres. of the Czechoslovakia Republic. In 1990 he addressed a joint session of the US Congress:
“We are still under the sway of the destructive and thoroughly vain belief that man is the pinnacle of creation and not just a part of it, and that therefore everything is permitted to him…We are still destroying the planet that was entrusted to us. We still close our eyes to the growing social, ethnic, and cultural conflicts in the world…the salvation this human world lies nowhere else than the human heart…”

Another is The Dalia Lama, Leader of Tibetan Buddhism, He says,
“Never give up, No matter what is going on, Never give up, Develop the heart, Too much energy on your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Develop the heart. Be compassionate. Not just to your friends but to everyone…Be compassionate! Work for peace in your heart and in the world…NEVER GIVE UP!…”

I agree. We must develop our capacity to live from our heart-wisdom, not from our heads. The new paradigm is – the heart leads. That is what I stand for. I believe that, together, the intelligence of the heart and the intellect of the mind can be the fulcrum to leverage life in this world to its proper balance. The domination of the scientific, rational era must end and the life lived from the spirit-body-heart in accord with the great Source (the interdependent web, God, nature – however you want to say it) must lead the future. Without heart-wisdom, we are doomed.

So, what can this mean for us as individuals? How do we use our heart? So, what can this mean for us as individuals? How do we use our heart? This does not have to be complicated – really, it is as simple as the Wizard of Oz suggests – we must remember that we have a heart and practice using it. This will mean feeling your body and learning how to manage receiving your own wisdom through your heart and then, living it onto the world. Don’t worry – your head will be very helpful at bringing you reasoned thought when you need it.

To practice —
1. Notice your thinking in your head (forehead) – and, or, touch your head with your hands.

2. Find your heart (upper chest) and move your awareness there – touch it with your hands to help yourself do this – You need to feel your body to do this – feel your torso – your arms, your legs – be present in this moment –
Are you expanding or contracting? If you are contracting – you are using your thinking and trying too hard. Release that and place someone or something you love in your heart and feel what happens. To enhance the experience, pretend you can breath with your heart – breathe into and out of your heart — receive the feeling. Do you feel the expansion? Practice going back and forth.

Advanced practicing being heart-centered is a lot of fun. You are ready now!! Advanced practice is in real situations. It can make a difference. Examples of situations are your partner and you are arguing; a work colleague is being frustrating; your child is being difficult. Really – anywhere. I use it in the grocery line, when I have a car accident, (that just happened! The other driver thanked me for being so calm. ), when I take a walk with myself and nature. If you don’t feel ready (except, please believe you are ready – it is a natural state for humans.), you can pretend you are in the situation and practice. Do this with a friend.

  1. Decide, in the situation, to practice choosing being heart-centered.
  2. Be aware of yourself thinking about the situation in your head…you will find judgments, rational arguments, critical thinking dominating your thought.
  3. Switch your awareness from your head into your body and heart (REMEMBER THE TIPS: touch your heart to help you get there, or breath in and out of your heart, or imagine your loved one in your heart. Be patient – wait for the feeling of expansion. You can feel it through the whole front and back of your upper body – and on through to your whole body.)
  4. Take time to do this – it won’t be fast at first. Your consciousness must feel the body, be in the body, soften. Your mind may want to leap back to your head. That is okay – that is your habit. Gently reconnect with your heart and body. Be patient with yourself.
  5. Now, speak and act from this place of heart-centered consciousness.
  6. Notice the effect and ponder it, write about it, observe how it changes things between you and them, and in you.

Later, anytime you want, practice going back and forth between heart and head until you can make the choice for the transition easily.

Spiritual Courage in the 21st Century is not a luxury. It is necessary. Let your heart lead you – put your thinking, rational mind in service to your heart. The heart will not be linear, and it will seem counter-intuitive sometimes. But, the truth in your heart is set in accord to the universal rhythm and will not lead you astray –

As the great mystic Ralph Waldo Emerson said –
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

Love, Jody

by Jody Whelden, website,  Oct 2016