When Mindfulness Matters Less

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.

Home

Home is where the heart is, an old but fitting adage. And yet, dare one ask: where is thou heart? Is thou heart inside you, like a womb or does it reside gently in the soul of another? Where is thou heart, really, when so many of us are somnambulant or worst yet, living in captivity? Shall we agree that we are at our best when we feel at home? This inside out feeling, the feeling of aloneness or oneness with space for another, a welcome guest, a lover or family. Home is a pronounced exhale, the silence of the moon while you weep, the pause between words.

There may come a time when we find ourselves homeless. A migrant, lost, a choice or caught, tossed in that dubious state of in-between. We are forced into motion, we move from one nest to another, we are fluttering outside our cocoon. Some of us take it on with a warrior stance, while others see it as a Columbus journey. Many move kicking and screaming. Regardless of the circumstance, whether you’ve chosen change or not– you find yourself charged with the slippery task of transporting yourself into a different location. The truth is, we know instinctively what is right and what we need because the heart is always precise and telling, however inconvenient it may seem, so you move forward blindly!

And we buckle and bend. And if we are impatient enough we may even distort ourselves with the painful awareness of aloneness, a caricature of such great proportion! Because we’ve forgotten and instead, we settle for a living arrangement. You must never allow yourself to stay in this inexhaustible state because you will certainly turn up empty. Simply put: home can never be experienced as a mere necessity. Rather, it must become a spiritual task, a full-blown coming into being, getting acquainted with your identity.

Where do I belong? one does ask.  And this question cannot be about yesterday or tomorrow, but rather what the present moment requires.

Where do I belong, dear God? Great heavenly God embedded in the true nature of me!

Where will I be love and respond with love? Where will my life be most loving? I so much want to cherish the earth and my soul, I want to bless my whole being. I want to embrace others with kindness and well-being.

I imagine that the question is much less about with whom or for what but rather knowing your heart, knowing that when in place your heart will open up overflowing, budding in the morning and resting in evening.

Do Relationships Matter in Happiness?

Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.”

~Eckhart Tolle

I think we underestimate the essential role of genuine, mindful relationships when it comes to wholeness and joyful living. When we are in a genuine relationship with another, we feel seen, loved and free to be who we really are and that brings happiness and relief into our lives.

Eckhart Tolle talks about the pain-body, an emotional pain that leaves a residue on the spirit, a wound that can easily open with a trigger or simply linger over you like unhappiness and exhaustion. He describes it as a negative energy, a filter that can distort your interpretation of reality preventing you from allowing more happiness into your life.

Most of Eckhart Tolle’s work centers on happiness and peace by raising consciousness and meditation. He suggests that you bring light to your pain-body by becoming aware of your thoughts. With light, the pain-body begins to cease and you are left with peace of mind and readiness for joy.

I’m aware of the pain-body. All pain body (emotional wound) occurs from some relationship or another; it is a result of some interaction with another in the universe. While awareness and some healing comes from meditation, applying awareness to relationship brings it full circle and finality to the pain-body. I believe we are drawn to others precisely because of our thoughts, desires and needs, including the need to heal our pain-body. Therefore, a relationship in our life is an opportunity. With this person, we can choose to reveal ourselves, unravel the pain-body. Yes, you are doing work when you are alone in contemplation, yes– but you also need to do this work with another human being. This mindful sharing and revealing leads to renewed trust and bonding. You are reorganizing the dynamics of your inner world, you are creating a new consciousness, a new thought pattern, a new beginning.

It’s actually a tender, loving willingness and it can be very gentle and beautiful when you feel it happening together, with the person of your choosing.

This exchange can happen over a long period of time, or instantly. In long term relationships there may be several elements of pain-body interacting and healing. Stagnation and pain occur in a relationship that is not willing to reveal this inner world, open up, be vulnerable. I’m not suggesting that relationships come together only to share and heal a suffering, as in a pain-body… although this may be true in some cases. I’m saying we’re drawn to people for a shared purpose and part of this purpose is to move into peace and happiness. We all need to be seen, loved in our nakedness, be washed over by the light of unconditional love.