Awakening The Heart
“If you can grow in love, you will grow in awareness. If you grow in awareness, you will grow in love” – Osho
I recently embarked on an inner journey. Seeking clarity, enlightenment and connection, I packed up my yoga mat and physically traveled North to my home state of Virginia. Artfully placed on the banks of the James River and overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, Satchidananda Ashram offered a spiritual oasis to deepen my meditation practice and teach me LifeForce Yoga skills to share with those I serve. Filled with both excitement and trepidation, I was ready for this great journey inward. I was eager for a week of contemplative fitness. My inner athlete said “bring. it. on."
That competitive nature quickly softened. The first 48 hours felt like a detox of sorts. Urges to answer emails, text friends and check voicemails quickly washed over me. Confession: clutching my IPhone, I trekked into the woods searching for service one afternoon after our morning yoga session. That unrelenting inner narrative of mine had convinced me that my growing business would suffer if I didn’t answer those emails waiting in my inbox. My sincere longing to be a “good” spiritual being came crashing down in a wave of self-doubt. Why couldn’t I simply let-go of the busyness? What have my imperfect actions revealed about me? In those first few hours, I was convinced of my status as a spiritual imposter.
Buddha taught that we are all conditioned to hold onto familiar and pleasant experiences through clinging, and that we resist unpleasant experiences through aversion. Clinging and aversion are natural states of being our egoic, human selves. When we cling to our identities, we believe in the illusion of separateness, and in turn, we live an isolated existence. In those moments of being attached to my busyness, I was identified with my professional mask – the illusion of my separate self. Miles away from the life I've skillfully weaved, separated from my friends, family, clients and professional work, who was I? This was a question of self-inquiry that emerged from deep within as I continued the journey inward.
Tara Brach talks about being merged with the trance of our ego saying “It is incompatible with awareness and dissolves when we take refuge in presence.” My steadfast teachers - stillness and silence - continued to guide me, moment by moment on the mat and as I sat in meditation at Lotus Temple each afternoon. As time at the ashram journeyed on, I discovered this peaceful shelter of presence. Breath by breath, I began to dip beneath mood, story and my inner critic, discovering the fertile ground of my being.
By trusting in the wisdom of my spirit, I gained a felt sense of the spaciousness beyond the limits of my physical body. The vibrational energy I began to sense during meditation felt limitless. That flow of energy was always there - it had just been filmed over by the layers of life. And shedding the layers of stress, anxiety and self-judgment became a spiritual calling. By sitting in silence, experiencing frustration, fear and often tears, my heart began to awaken. An open heart allows us to get beneath the emotional wave of each moment and reconnecting to one's true nature becomes possible. That unending sea of love is no longer frozen over.
Liberation Through Love
On my walk back from meditation at Lotus one afternoon, I heard soft rustling to the left of the mountain path. As I peered past the budding trees, I spotted four fox kits wrestling playfully with one another in front of their den. Their spontaneous exuberance captured every ounce of my awareness. I stood still happily watching them - for who knows how long - savoring this sacred moment. Then, unexpectedly, their mother emerged from the den. With a calm alertness, she looked deep into my eyes. All feeling of threat seemed to have washed away. In that moment, the universe had lovingly revealed itself to me. As I continued my walk up the path, I felt a sense of belonging to the world.
Through this awakened heart, we interface with the world differently. The fear of our vulnerability begins to melt away and what’s left is love for this one wild and precious life we’re given. We become liberated from our limiting beliefs to allow life to unfold in beautiful and mysterious ways. A regular meditation practice cultivates our capacity to be aware of flowing thoughts and feelings without putting all our energy into the wave of the moment. Who we are and what we experience are no longer one. An awakened heart is more available to give and receive love through a felt sense of connectedness to the universe. Meditation is the portal in which we can connect to that innate estuary of love that flows within – filtering us into the vast sea of life - as we become joined with the heart of humanity.
For more on how to awaken the heart through the portal of presence, I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@Mindful_Healer).
A Loving Namaste,