Given the tendency to look outside ourselves for guidance about the art of living it can come as a surprise to realize that your own heart is the most precious guide on your spiritual journey.
The call of the heart stands as our most discerning and intuitive guide to Truth. In a world of relative values, without the living guidance of the heart we will live shallow, arid and mechanical lives.
There is nothing more important to your safe and spiritual journey than to follow the promptings and guidance of your open heart and there is a real need to listen to its intimations and to seek its counsel.
Your intuitive heart can be readily opened by simply closing your eyes, breathing gently into your heart region and focusing there. Surrender the mind’s control and just note any feelings, memories or desires that float up. Try it and see what happens.
Our heart is the true home of the Self and yet for so many of us it has been closed and its guidance ignored. Understanding the causes of this closure and striving to open your heart is the central goal of the spiritual journey.
One of my teachers once observed that all we need as children is love and tender care. Sadly, it is a lack of love and suffering in our childhood that makes us close our hearts. Repeated trauma and distress make the unsupported heart close down to protect itself. The day then comes when we no longer recognize that our heart is permanently closed and that the mind has taken over as the main guide in our lives.
Alienated from our heart and presenting a false self to the world, we remain trapped in the mind and live on a daily diet of self-doubt, worry, despair and indifference to others. Identification with the mind and ego leads to an increased sense of isolation and distance from others.
The only way out of this self-imposed mental prison is to have faith that there are solutions to our difficulties and to allow ourselves to become open and vulnerable enough to find them. The simple solution is to listen to your own heart, but years of defensiveness means that this is not so easy. Finding support in the world may be the first option that we need to pursue.
Nonetheless, our hearts are more resilient than we may realize and we all unconsciously desire to find the key to reopen our heart. Only courage and faith that success is possible enables us to conquer the doubts that assail us on our journey back to the heart. These virtues allow us to risk hurt and disappointment time and again.
Your heart continually calls you despite the over-activity of the mind which so many of us are prone to nowadays. An overactive mind is a sign that there are feelings trying to push up from the heart in order to be expressed and understood. The whole obsessive thinking cycle is a defense against feelings.
The heart simply trusts and feels love and compassion and so it is only the mind's involvement that brings in doubt, distrust, cynicism and confusion. And of course, there may have been betrayals and relationship disappointments that have led us to avoid the intimacy of sharing and confessing our lack of direction, helplessness and confusion. This world can be a painful one for the sensitive person who has lost their way.
The problems start when the ego-mind takes over as the main guide in our lives and becomes the judge of all of our actions and motivations in life. The mind is important to our survival but if its decisions don't take into account the heart’s feelings, then its actions tend to be self-serving and polarizing. Such an approach then leads us into more strife and conflict in our relationships. The mind is like the warrior who acts, while the heart is like the wise counselor who can guide those actions.
One of the safest ways to open your spiritual heart, a way which transcends the quick fixes and feel good short term solutions of modern culture, is to undertake a deep-seated and compassionate dialogue with all aspects of your conscious and subconscious selves.
The outcome of such a conversation, which can be guided by a spiritual friend or counsellor, is the redemption of all the rejected parts of oneself. It can release a new livingness and the ability to embrace others in a feeling of Oneness.
When left unresolved the subconscious self tends to sabotage the opening of the heart due to its fears and insecurities. However, when reunited with the spiritual heart the subconscious parts can be healed and you can once again experience what it means to be open-hearted.