I spent most of my life searching for truth, self awareness and ultimately Nirvana by thinking, analyzing, pondering and conceptualizing. I thought that the mind contained the wellspring where it all happens; where we begin and return to, in our journey of awareness. So I checked out all sorts of accounts from anyone and everyone as to the secret of life – what makes us tick. I thought that when I knew enough, I would find the key to all. I was wrong.
It turns out that, rather than thinking our way to awareness and self-actualization, it is experiencing that is the key. That means engaging life – and that, in turn, involves the body. The wellspring centre that I sought lay in our magnificent bodies, with the heart at its core.
In my quest for deeper awareness, I adopted a conceptual model of how we process information. I envisioned our process of manifesting/becoming as a continuum. With our thought or ideas (mind) to start with we then attach beliefs/emotions (body – heart) to the idea. This combination then sets up our stance and/or action as we navigate through life. So when I followed Louise Hay’s tenet of, “It’s just a thought and a thought can be changed,” I ran into a problem. Like so many other people, my focus on the mind (from the mind, body, spirit trinity) kept me mired in an illusion of circular logic that offered little solace when I bumped into the inevitable “Catch 22.” I couldn’t get behind or under the assumptions and teachings from my infancy and childhood. I seemed hard-wired into a set of arbitrary beliefs that conditioned all of my ideas and ultimately my reality. When I sincerely affirmed, “I am abundant, I am abundant,” and looked in my wallet to find only coupons, I was dismayed and confused. I believed that I was somehow affirming improperly. I just wasn’t doing it right.
After many years of struggling with my uncooperative mind, I began to realize that “life is not an armchair activity.” As my awareness deepened, I paid more attention to my whole-body experience, especially my heart. This insight started to show up in my world, including my counselling. For example, I suggested that clients check on whether something “pings” in the heart area to discern the truth of it rather than listen to the endless and often misleading chatter of the mind. The mind does not yield reliable insight when it conflicts with the inner knowing of the heart/body.
Consequently, my old awareness continuum model eventually shifted. The new paradigm starts with the emotional body (first seven years of life). Then enters the mind with thoughts and beliefs (until age fourteen) followed by our physical way of being in the world (until age twenty one). Michael Brown, in his book “the Presence Process,” explains that we initially experience consciousness in the womb as a primordial pool of energy and sensations. We are imprinted from conception with our mother’s state of mind and feelings as energy. Our earliest awareness (that eventually reifies into concepts and beliefs) is therefore without language. This pre-word world is where we must return to in order to contact the child-within. In the present, our inner child keeps clamoring for attention and creating situations and relationships in order to address its unfulfilled needs from the past. So the process of awareness and ultimate healing must take us back to our emotional body, i.e. the heart, where our internalized messages were first formed. Getting to the core of the matter entails embracing the inner child at the heart level.
In psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body, scientists have found that the heart possesses a rhythm or song with which all the cells of our body resonate. In this way, our inner harmony stems from our hearts.
On a spiritual level, Tantric monks and nuns seek enlightenment through the heart chakra. In Buddhism, the enlightened ones combine wisdom (mind) with compassion (heart) in their awareness. It is the heart factor that transforms and elevates knowledge into wisdom. While spiritual awareness is the goal here, the heart once again holds the key.
According to the Tao Te Ching, the oral teachings of Lao-Tzu in Ancient China, the mind often presents illusions and distractions that the intuitive self must overcome. While the mind often steers our course, the heart is the true leader in wisdom. Our inner sense stems from an alignment of all that we are (“creative spirit, vital soul and wondrous body-mind”). Yet it is the heart that is the portal through which we connect to the rhythm of the universe and claim our own divine essence.
It seems clear to most human beings around the world that we are more than a physical form. We somehow “know” that we exist in various dimensions or realities. These notions have us exploring astral planes and dimensions outside of time and space. Regardless of where we reach for answers, many people have found the heart to be the vehicle by which we resonate with the vastness of ourselves that lies beyond our physical bodies. Heart energy pulses with the rhythm of the universal soul. So, in answer to, “What makes us tick?,” I’d say, “It’s the ticker of course.”
Helena Green is a Counsellor, Health Management Instructor, Caregiver and Writer.