If you’ve already taken the first steps on your true spiritual journey, you’ve likely experienced moments of disorientation or distraction at the hands of powerful, demanding emotions. We often feel these emotions throughout the whole body, but we must feel and process them via the heart.
Herein lies one of the many challenges for spiritual practitioners: how can we stay true to our spiritual calling in the midst of such strong emotional torrents? How do we live from our hearts without being overwhelmed by the power of these sensations? One key to processing these emotions properly (what we call “living from the heart”) is to understand the difference between heart emotions and heart energies, and by ridding ourselves of the assumption that these two sensations are the same.
How Our Culture Portrays Open-Heartedness
Perhaps one reason we may be confused about the power of heart energies versus the whirlwind of our emotional landscape is that culturally, we are told to equate open-heartedness with pure emotion.
In plenty of famous books and movies, those portrayed as open-hearted are often depicted as being pure, true, and unhindered by the world around them. They live for and by the demands of their emotions, and this is considered to be an enviable and aspirational way to move about the world. Shakespeare’s Romeo is a perfect illustration: he experiences a love so deep and meaningful that it is considered “star-crossed”. To put it another way, this love is so comically fantastic it is something we ordinary-hearted humans could only imagine.
This commitment to the demands of emotion makes for incredible storytelling, but our culture’s default portrayal of a person living from their heart is actually the story of someone living from their emotions. It is not to be confused with a person who is living from the energy of their heart.
This mistaken representation of the heartfelt living that has been programmed into our way of thinking and needs to be reset in order to take our first steps.
How to (Re)Prioritize Emotions
Once we have cleared our mind of the false equivalency of emotions and heart, we can see that these romantic explorations are simply tales of people living from a place of indulging unexamined emotions. While Romeo is a fantastic example of this, he is merely one example out of a nearly endless list of characters who act carelessly while ascribing their rash behavior to heart energies. We must establish that in many ways, those who repeatedly act on unchecked emotions to dictate their life choices are not using their hearts so much as they are placating unexamined emotional impulses.
This is a habit that should be overcome in order to step into the more subtle, refined intelligence of the heart.
In order to make the leap from the indulgence of every emotional need to the subtle and refined energy of the heart, one must let go of the constant, nagging neediness of our ever-changing emotions and step into a place of quiet, receptive listening.
This may feel counterintuitive at first but, in order to live from the heart, we have to look at our emotions differently. Whereas emotions are volatile, habitual, and full of ego and desire needs, the wisdom of the heart is constant, consistent, steady, and nurturing.
Right now, when we think about the heart, we equate the heart with personal feelings and emotions. While these feelings are certainly part of the heart’s function, in this course (see below) we will practice working directly with the higher energy and wisdom of the heart.
Benefits of Living from Heart Energy
To live from the heart means to feel and listen to the energy of the heart that lies underneath the business of our attachments and desires.
We can certainly acknowledge and care for the ego-driven emotions, but it is only when we choose the inner wisdom of the heart’s energy as the compass for our lives that we can begin to make space for the Higher Self to lead us.
To access knowledge with the heart opens the door to be inspired by the world around you, to trust in the heart’s ability to recognize right from wrong, to be open to expanding possibilities, and explore new dimensions of your life.
The process of shifting to open-hearted living takes time, dedication, and most importantly an inner desire for change. The resulting change is a life of love and compassion, and access to a yet unknown realm of knowledge and self-understanding.
Teach Yourself To Live From the Heart
The latest class from Higher Self Yoga is based on founder Nanette V Hucknall’s acclaimed book, “How to Live from Your Heart: Deepen Relationships, Develop Creativity, and Discover Inner Wisdom.” In this class we train in how to use the energies of the heart to do just this – explore our inner world, nurture our relationships, and expand our openness to encompass the world as a whole.