I’m writing to you, dear friend, because I’ve come to some realizations that you may benefit from. I fear that in spite of the fact of having written a great deal on the subject of mindfulness, I’m growing tired of the word. Perhaps it’s just the natural limitation of the word itself or maybe it’s semantics but it seems to me that there is something missing about it. I think now that the term mindfulness may accidentally diminish the central role of heart in our life and conversations.
So there, I’ve said it. I’m unsatisfied with the broad use of the word mindfulness and I’m currently interested in the role of the heart. I’m doing some reflecting on this topic during these somewhat turbulent days.
When I think about the heart, I think about it inside me, the organ, but also the feeling, the outside experience of love which is more like an energy. I’ve been listening very carefully to my heart, starting with its beat in my body. This beating feels so instinctive and expected and yet, I notice how it speeds up or slows down depending on the situation, the person I’m talking with or the circumstances I’m facing. Therefore, I see now the heart is both instinct and radical energy, that which is both within and beyond myself simultaneously.
I will add, and you will appreciate this because you can be a practical person, that there is also an awareness of the relationship between my heart and my gut, both of which are both physical and metaphysical elements, like the body is telling me something about my true nature and the true nature of a situation. You’ve heard the expression, follow your gut, right? Or in Spanish, it would be: do what your body tells you. I believe that the heart (like the gut, or in partnership with the gut…) speaks to us all the time and sometimes it can appear mysterious but the more aware you are, the more you realize that it’s not very mysterious at all.
So now, I hesitate more when using the word mindfulness. It seems to discourage me. It seems to communicate that life centers in the mind and freedom has to do with the level of mindfulness of a person. But I don’t think this is true. You certainly know this my dear friend because the heart has ruled over most everything you do, for better or worst I dare say! I guess I’m just now accepting this, this sense that the heart really does drive human behavior. Isn’t it perhaps the most powerful energy source of all? And why is this a bad thing? Isn’t it that all matters of the heart bring people together? Isn’t it this notion of heart that dictates the rise and fall of families and whole civilizations, everything we value and fight for as a people, as a nation?
Today, my heart beats a little steadier, but at night it still beats rapidly in my chest: bum, bum, bum. Just like that and I want to stop it with my mind and breathing exercises but my heart is so powerful, like it knows something. In an effort to embrace the path of least resistance, I am now accepting my heart as the center processing unit of my being. After all, the heart is the mechanism by which air flows throughout my body and I do believe in listening carefully. The heart holds the answer to every life decision..
Sometimes I think people turn to mindfulness for safety. When the heart is allowed free reign, open and honesty, we are vulnerable, raw and crying. We are less practical. It’s literally an open window in the eyes, a volcano.
In defense of mindfulness, though, I will say that mindfulness is about becoming aware of the heart, managing and setting aside thoughts so that you can hear clearly your heart beat. This is true and important. Mindfulness can bring you closer to a healthy, dancing heart. But, it’s a tool and that is all.