The Importance of the Heart

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Yesterday I heard that huge tracts of the giant sea kelp forests in the ocean off Western Australia had completely vanished, destroyed by rising sea temperatures, and I died a little bit too. Yesterday I heard that a policeman shot a black man in a car with a missing light in front of his woman and child; my hair stood up on end and I wept while I drove. Yesterday I heard Gloria Steinem talking to a crowd at the Sydney Writers Festival about how she became a feminist: as a young journalist she covered a story about a task force set up to discuss abortion, made up of 14 men and a nun. As she said, you can’t make this shit up, and I gritted my teeth in outrage. Gloria Steinem is 84 years old, and in spite of the Kardashians, the pornification of our young people and the reluctance of young women to identify as feminists, she cannot help but be hopeful, because of the massive amount of change she has seen over her lifetime, and the change that she continues to see. If Gloria Steinem can be hopeful then so can I. Yesterday I sat beside my 12 year old son in my mother’s office as she diagnosed Epstein Barr Virus and started treatment for chronic fatigue caused by repeated tick poisoning when he was little. I was both pummeled by grief, guilt and sadness and buoyed by faith in my mother’s skills and medicine and my son’s ability to recover. Later on the Bear got cranky, not at me, at the bills, but it felt like he was angry at me, and I shrank into myself, worried and wounded. He came and hugged me later and I whispered that I was worried that he didn’t like me any more, and he said he had the same worry. We hugged again. This is not an unusual day in the life of a modern human. Being human hurts our heart, and that’s all there is to it. We have to let it, because the alternative, of not having our heart broken every day, is to not be truly living. We feel our way through our days, and it can be exhausting and ecstatic and everything in between. Life is like that, and it’s no use wanting it to be any other way.

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What does it mean to be heart-centered? Our heart is situated in your body, so there is a sense of grounded, loving, connectedness with yourself and other people. Being heart-centered generates compassion, empathy and unconditional love. A heart-centered person connects with their emotions, checking in to see how they feel about a situation, person or event. Their feelings or instincts guide them in an intuitive way, always moving toward joy. This is a person who trusts themselves and their instincts, and acts accordingly.

In a metaphysical sense, the heart is the meeting place between Heaven and Earth, God/Goddess, Father/Mother, Yin/Yang. It is the sacred meeting space of polarities. Our body, in its physical and energetic form, has the capacity to act as a conduit between Divine energy and Earth energy, channeling the flow in a two way stream. When I say ‘has the capacity’, our channels have to be open and clear in order for the energy to flow unimpeded, and one of the big channels through which this energy needs to flow is our heart.

Having an open heart makes us vulnerable to the pain and suffering in the world. When our heart is open, we feel everything, and this can be unbearable, causing us to shut down and close off. We withdraw, we harden, we get depressed, pessimistic, suspicious and distrustful. We think we’re protecting ourselves, and we are in a sense, much like bricking ourselves into an underground bomb shelter is protecting ourselves from a possible attack. What if it never comes? What if it does, and we have spent our whole lives in a bricked up cocoon? We will have missed out on all the good, juicy stuff of life in our quest to avoid possible heart ache.

Think about someone that you know who is open-hearted. Think about their qualities: trusting, open, honest, faithful, happy, generous, joyful. Think about how it feels to be around this person, how you always feel good after spending time with them.These are the qualities of open-heartedness, and we all want to be like that, because we know that when our hearts are open, we are the very best people we can be. An open heart is the doorway to our soul, and we need that doorway to our soul to be open. It is part of our work as humans,  to keep our hearts open, even when it hurts, so that we can play our part in the healing of the world and its inhabitants. If we cannot feel, we cannot heal.

Next: The Importance of Spirit

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31 comments

  1. “A task force set up to discuss abortion, made up of 14 men and a nun.”

    Unbelievable. Yet totally believable. I got to meet Gloria Steinem a few years ago when I was teaching at San Jose State. Lucky me!

    If people were more open-hearted we would have a lot less problems with sexism, racism and people getting killed over a broken tail light.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant! You’re totally speaking my language, singing my song. Yes, our heart is actually designed to open and break and open more and break again and again. And it is the place where no polarity resides, the place where we can create from, without creating the opposite at the same time. If you ever get an opportunity to take an Awakening The Intuitive Heart workshop (Drunvalo Melchizedek’s work), you would more than love it. Thank you for this beautiful and thoughtful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, how interesting Susan. I have heard of him, but not investigated his work. I love the idea of the heart being the space of no polarity where whatever we create is not creating its opposite. Beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sara – you spoke to the heart of my sore and sorry self. Thankyou!

    After a 2 week school holiday period that included…my dear Husband away for a week in Nth Qld white water rafting (just the Winter warmer I would like), a infection that had the antibiotics and whatever the mysterious infection struck me down battling it out in my swollen pus ridden leg (thus limping and immobile and entertaining two chilluns) and a statewide tour of the grandparents unwillingly lengthened by a week long car issue that saw my husband return home – to an empty house and us on the other side of the great dividing range! I arrived home crook and sore and sorry…and yet my heart (when reminded via your lovely sharing) beamed and radiated with feeling the fullness of it all – the tears and joys. Gratitude.

    Happy holidays and end of holidays to you.

    Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Kate! All the things in one school holiday! The husband away having fun without you, you sick and looking after children, and car troubles to boot 😧 I’m glad I was able to cheer you up in some small way my friend, and I hope that you get some time to yourself to rest and heal.

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      • Not only a cheering up, but a pointer (and reminder) to the deeper capacity of the heart: to feel, to soften, to live fully. And the hearts gentle calming and expansive wisdom = much appreciated by my head – its mental chatter was certainly in overdrive, re: the challenges at hand.

        Day one of school return = yoga, meditation, gardening, cleaned out a cupboard and slated some time to ponder (in a more proactive and with a sense of capacity and possibility) the deeper challenges that came up during my mulling about in the murk over the last few weeks.

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  4. Hi Sara,

    I think what I most identified with in this piece was your description of your day, and how the challenges of open-heartedness touch us right where we live, with our families and loved ones. I’ll be interested to see how you bring spirit into this in your next installment. think it can be overwhelming to think that our role as open-hearted people is to take on all the suffering of the world, so to speak, and I think there’s a way of being open-hearted and seeing truly that ties this together in a way that leaves us whole and capable and compassionate all at once. Thank you for sharing from the heart here, Sara. I enjoyed reading this knowing from whence it came…

    Peace
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading Michael, and continuing our conversation from last week, this time in a different place! I quite agree, an unprotected open heartedness where we absorb and carry all the world’s suffering is not appropriate or sustainable. And yes, you’re right, this is where spirit comes in, with a broader understanding of suffering and the importance of the spiritual journey, walking our own path and letting other people walk theirs. And also, spirit is where we get to integrate everything, almost like a crucible…❤️

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  5. Sara, I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s problem and the other miseries you mention. But I’m sure your son is in good hands. I’m so pleased to see you then go on to tell us about the importance of being heart-centered–compassionate, loving, vulnerable, and trusting–even when that’s difficult.

    I sometimes find myself regretting that I didn’t treat someone as well as I should have–that I’d been selfish and focused too much on my needs rather than theirs. Sometimes I’d been cruel, and when I think of such things my heart breaks, but when I think of happy days, blissful days, my heart soars, so I suppose we can’t get get far away from the effects of our lives on our heart, there at the center of our bodies and our lives.

    Thank you for the post, sincere as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you David ❤️ I agree, we are constantly buffeted by the highs and lows and plateaus of life. It’s just the way life is. Sometimes we show our best faces, sometimes we don’t, often to our lasting regret! They don’t call living well a life’s work because it is easy! 😊

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  6. Sara, I really needed this today. Walking to the subway station after work, I was caught in a turmoil between feeling frustrated at a coworker and frustrated that I couldn’t just let this feeling go. I wished in that moment that I could just flip off the switch on my emotions so I could just be a professional robot and get through things without letting my feelings interfere. But you’re right in that we’re all human and feelings can get the best of us at times. We just have to learn to manage both the good and bad. Thank you as always for a thoughtful and timely post. 🙂

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    • Hey Lillian, don’t we get hard on ourselves for feeling emotions?? Yes, some of them are uncomfortable, but the fact is that they are there, and we need to acknowledge them. They usually pass on pretty quickly when we do that! Mind you, I did request a discussion about money with the Bear the other night, sans emotion. He looked at me as if I had just fallen off the back of a unicorn, and asked incredulously how he was supposed to do that! lol 🙂 Personally, I think emotion has no part in a sensible discussion about money, but the truth of it is, emotion in this context makes me uncomfortable and complicates things, so i would prefer just to excise it. It seems my excitable Russian Bear is not going to allow me to do that, and I suppose that is what life is doing to us all the time – constantly badgering us so that we don’t close our hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing your heart always with us Sara. and I am sure if your Son has half the heart as you, he will see how he can help himself self heal.. I was sorry to read his diagnosis , I hope he soon bounces back and regains his energy once again.
    Our Hearts are when open always prone to be bruised.. But I would sooner have a bruised heart than to not have a heart at all.

    Sending Love and Blessings to you and your family Sara..
    Loved reading your thoughts
    Love Sue ❤

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  8. We are in the USA seeing my mum at the moment and I have been waiting for time to read this post. Heart centred, yes. A friend gave me a little figurine about ten years ago that was holding a heart. That was how she saw me and it was the first time I realised it might be true. I’m so sorry for your son’s diagnosis and I hope your Mother can heal him. As for other tragedies that break our hearts, the wisdom in this post is spot on. Hugs. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a feeling you might have been away, but not so far! I hope you and your mum are okay.
      My son is much better already, thank you – it’s a process, but we have good medicine and he is young and strong. I just feel glad we have the capacity to deal with it.
      I absolutely love the image of the heart carrying figurine. What a beautiful affirmation.
      Be well ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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