Amazing. That is how my heart is.
I mean this literally – amazing is how the heart is, always, isn’t it? Because it simply never stops being amazing. Just the way it works to keep me alive, to keep me breathing, to keep my organs functioning, to keep my blood flowing, to be, at all times, wholly present for me, these are all amazing stuff. It is also amazing how my heart has been so generous and self-assured enough in allowing my brain to take the spotlight and assume that it has had full control all this time.
My heart, as it is quickly turning out, is much smarter than my brain has ever judged it to be.
Cue in Awkward Yeti comic:
How do you do, Intention?
Most of us have learned to “set our intentions” usually at the beginning of a year, or before a big project or an activity like a yoga practice or a community outreach or before signing up for the gym or going on a diet or helping out a friend. But in reality, we pursue individual paths taking us to our ideal resolutions more than once a year and much more often than we care to think of. In fact, we are doing it all the time. We intend for every single thing to happen, even if it is only milliseconds before we make the actual move for them. We choose to do a number of things in half a day: work, play, be alone, be with friends, watch a movie, cook a meal, plan a party, reconnect with someone, plan to travel, travel, eat junk, eat healthy, make a big blanket out of clothing scraps.
It may not always be consciously, but I was personally moved to make these countless decisions that lay ahead of me all within two hours. Among them being where to turn my head to look every few seconds, picking a good spot to sit in, what to think about, who to send a message to, what words to use, how to react, what to touch, what to listen to, what to feel, what to make of things right in front of me, meditation, to play with the dogs, observe clouds, then play with the dogs again. I toast cheese on bread, I talk to my plants, I drink water, I step out, I drive, I pick a restaurant, I order a hot chocolate over cocktails, I order potato and pumpkin gratin because I’ve never had one before. Later, I will either choose to go to bed early or go to bed late.
How do I make my decisions, and more importantly, at every detailed turn, what are the intentions driving them? How important are my intentions? Do I have one for the whole day? For every hour? For every movement? Do I make my intentions? Or do they simply make me, without any decision-making on my part?
Why did I put on this dress? Why am I eating this? What excites me and how often do I choose to think about it? If I read a page of a book, what do I wish to get out of it? If I put words together, what is it really that I want to say? Why am I sitting where I am sitting, thinking what I am thinking, drinking what I am drinking and writing what I am writing? And what do I want to happen next?
What happened next
I was at this new restaurant called Tablō that had just opened in my neighborhood and that I have been so keen on visiting because it had looked great from the outside even when it was still unfinished just weeks ago when I first spotted it. After my hot chocolate (that had a written note with it, saying: EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. BE AMAZING! =)) and cheesy pumpkin gratin, and in the middle of a break from finishing this blog entry and listening to my internet dose of Abraham Hicks’ law of attraction videos, I went to the restroom and, while peeing, spotted a few books stacked beside each other up in the hollow inlay of the wall I was facing.
I was immediately drawn to one title: “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting.”
Obviously, it was talking to me.
I took it out (after my intended and concluded peeing was done, I intend to point out), and was pleasantly amused to read its subtitle in small letters: “the astonishing power of feelings.” Hmmm, how appropriate.
I took the book out with me back to my table and immediately started reading. I was feeling excited because the way it was described on the summary at the back made it sound so complimentary to the blog that I am writing now and everything I have been exploring in the past month.
In the introduction, the author wrote, with seemingly the same excitement I possessed while reading the words, how she has learned everything she is about to share to me from this family in Texas. She gives the name “Hicks” and I had goosebumps all over.
This is the name of the exact same person I had talking to me in my earphones just moments ago, the same one who has been teaching me all about the laws of the attracting and creating universe, the owner of the voice telling me to pay attention to signs and never overlook coincidences and to follow whatever makes me feel good (like peeing, maybe) so that I can lead myself to what I want, the name on all the YouTube videos I have been listening to for half a year now:
And because this wasn’t the first time in the last few days that a “coincidence” like this happened, it got my full attention.
It felt like… magic. Freakin’ magic.
Magic is a big topic, and I’ll have to discuss it further in another entry, as I am sure it will unravel and expand further at whim in the days ahead.
Back to center: the heart
Because it was the month February, after all, I decided at the start of it to dedicate the entire month to focusing on my heart. Further than a personal and solo Valentine celebration, I had many reasons for this. First and simply, the heart is undeniably an important central character in all our individual lives. Second, I have always been defined by others as having a great big heart. And I have always seen myself as a loyal disciple of my great big heart. But recently, I have had doubts, and because of this, I have been feeling my heart shrink and crack, and I needed to do some mending. How well have I really been following my heart? How well have I been using it? How big and how great is it, really? I was not so sure anymore. And it was time to get to the beating roots of it. Lastly, a lot of my recent growth has been stemming from the redirection of my focus from outside conditions to internal ones. Devoting my most heartfelt wandering attention to the heart itself seemed a most obvious step (or skip) in the right direction.
In the past weeks, during meditation practice, I would have my mind and body tell my heart: “Heart, you are in control. We are handing over everything to you. You are in full control. You know what this person wants. Take over.”
Could I have spotted this gift of a book and taken it into my hands if I hadn’t been so attuned to my heart in the past weeks? It is not likely. I probably would not even have been in that restaurant.
Coincidences are not mere coincidences, and neither are they rare. In fact, they exist everywhere and in every fraction of a momentum. The rareness is in our ability to spot them, recognize them as our signposts, associate them with one another, and keep our attention on them while walking our daily paths. Meaning, our ability to intend for them. Meaning, to follow our heart faithfully so that it can take us out to see all of them, one after another, perfectly lined up for us. Like being on a perpetual treasure hunt that never ends: every clue a treasure in itself leading to an even bigger treasure.
Intention comes from the heart. It never stops at finding something or ends at one beautiful luxury beach destination. It keeps discovering and partaking and restarts and renews again and again. Just like our heartbeats. Hearts are intentions in physical form. The daring undercurrent that is the wants of the heart is precedent for every move of the mind and body, for all thoughts and actions. That is intention. And if we pay more attention to it, it shifts and enhances the kind of energy and force that we allow into the why and how of all the we do and think.
I read an article a few years ago on how recent scientific research discovered that the heart actually has a way of knowing and reacting just a split-second before something takes place or before our mind or our senses even pick up on a present event. So I recently googled for this article so that it could feed my current curiosities and found HeartMath.
HeartMath Institute Science is a foundation that has been studying the heart’s “brain” for 29 years, and it discovered that the heart communicates more with instructions to the brain in our head rather than the other way around. Our heart actually thinks for itself, and it does not only think independently from the brain in our head, it also has more to say.
I randomly attended a photography talk recently and the panelists wouldn’t stop saying the word “intention” while a person I was just checking out online walked right by outside the door, twice. Each time “coincidences” happen now, I am far from dismissing them and feel an overwhelming surge of excitement in knowing that the Universe – or rather, my very own Heart, which is a Universe all on its own – is clearly speaking to me. I am quickly discovering that whenever you find yourself at the right place in the right time, or have been attracting the right signs and prompting the most satisfying chain of events, it is not Lady Luck who takes you there, it is simply your Heart and how well you have been listening.
Aligning with intention
You know when you find yourself in a situation that you just absolutely do not want to be in and then your heart begins to… ache? Physically ache. No, seriously, it may sound cheesy, but it truly hurts.
The pain is not caused by your heart literally cracking and breaking into pieces. But it is most probably from the extreme efforts your heart is making to pull you back into the right direction, where it is sure that you are not in sour conflict with yourself – in the direction wherein you are at peace.
When you are rushing to meet a deadline or your running late and, instead of accepting that you are short for time or that you really are running late, you push yourself harder or get angry at yourself. When you are trying to convince yourself in the midst of catastrophe that you feel good when you obviously don’t feel good or have every right to not feel good. When you are in conversation with someone you generally do not agree or resonate with and you are trying to maintain surface talk and trying harder and harder to please and overcompensate and feel like you are falling and can’t grab hold of anything real in all the words and “good vibes” you are mindlessly throwing about in panic. Your heart contracts, beats faster, beats irregularly, and your gut feels it strongest. Let’s call it Stress in B minor. You are trying to manipulate and be okay with outer conditions, when all you have to be okay with is yourself.
Breathe. Let the mind quiet. Then listen to your heartbeat. It goes on, doesn’t it? It is telling you it is sorting the world out right with you and everything will be okay because it in charge of your body that is adapting and adjusting to be able to handle anything for you, and it will always keep up.
When you begin to understand and respect that your heart is always there to back you up, and you allow it to communicate what it knows, you will feel your inner resistance and conflicts naturally subside. And then you will get a clearer picture of what to do and how to feel better at any given time. Clear intentions help with decision-making, resilience, inner peace, self-governance, and self-care. Alignment with your truest intentions is the only state that you were ever meant to be in while you are moving through this moving Earth while in your moving Body.
How do you know when you have aligned with your intentions? Simple: when you feel good. Or rather, you feel great.
Peace, love, happiness, gratitude, wonder, appreciating, calmness, excitement – these are all signals that you are aligned with your heart. No aching, no frustration, no wringing your hands to feel a false sense of control. It is not hard at all to know it in your heart when your heart is happy. And the most unbelievable thing about it is that happiness is not something to be reserved for special events. You are actually meant to feel it ALL THE TIME.
When I was in college, my fancy new cellphone fell out of my pocket and I left it in the tricycle. It wasn’t the first time, but it felt as dreadful as the first time. The worth of the phone and your saved contacts, photos, and texts combined made it such an evident loss.
I was on my way to the pay phone to call my dad whom I was supposed to meet up with, but then I saw this really cute stray dog. Being such a sucker for dogs, because the best childhood memories I have revolve around being with dogs, I started following the dog with sudden enthusiasm and calling it so that I could pet it. My phone was lost and, in a second, a stray dog made the event irrelevant and the tightness in my gut melted away. Because all I wanted was to pet that damn dog.
At that time, my realization for myself was, wow, dogs really do make me happy. It was a good thing to know, and has since then helped me direct myself to the things that truly matter to me.
But here’s the gem of a new insight, nearly 20 years later – this is not just about dogs. What that “turn” of events was telling me is that I have an opportunity to feel good (or feel better) ALL THE TIME, no matter the given circumstance. And whenever I choose that opportunity to feel good over my feeling bad, well, viola, wha’d you know, there it is: I actually do feel good. And it is a good thing!
When it became clear to me how essential it is to choose to feel good, to let my heart take full control of situations, and to follow where my intentions are pointing for me to feel good, nothing else seemed to matter anymore. Nothing else. The world didn’t collapse from my only thinking of what made me personally happy. In fact, the world became so much more beautiful and responsive and I am becoming a much better person from living in it. And because of all these positive results I am seeing and feeling, I have offered my heart my utmost respect and have protected it with such tenderness since. And it has given me tenderness back.
These past days, I would outright refuse to feel bad. I sense it the moment it would start brewing within me, and I would say nope!, carefully releasing my dear heart from whatever it was that had just attempted to take it hostage: a bad memory, an annoying fly, a disappointing encounter. No way, my heart doesn’t feel comfortable here, I am turning around.
Whenever you make a conscious choice (an intention) for yourself to feel good, that is a direct instruction from your heart, because that is all that matters to a heart that is running your entire operating system. If you don’t feel good, your machinery won’t function how it’s supposed to, because it is rusty, because it is not well oiled, because it feels stuck. Our brain and nervous system are affected by so many things outside ourselves, but our heart is only ever thinking about us. When you choose your heart, you are choosing yourself, and you will always be in the right place in the right time. And there will always be cute dogs in desperate situations.
I love taking long walks home. Even having to come from a long day, a walk is still both empowering and refreshing. Especially now when I so easily sense it when my body physically takes on an agitated structure. The minutest shift in thought can raise my shoulders, the slightest reaction to stress can tense up my arms, the smallest worry can tighten my gut, and I quickly remind myself to relax, come back to present where all is actually well, and walk with ease and enjoyment. The changes you can do for yourself with such small details!
Taking a walk means taking time, going at my own pace, exercise, exploration, and a way to meditate. There are a lot of things you can notice and give your attention to while walking that you would easily overlook if you were moving too quickly. For example, of all the times that I would give my most special attention to leaves, considering how much time I spend in forests and staring at plants in the garden, who would have thought that my biggest revelations on them would take place on a walk during rush hour on a main road entering my subdivision.
Of course, leaves are everywhere. Plants grow from concrete. This is why it is one of the many little things that we often take for granted and overlook in the magnitude of our daily lives. We eat them, we plant them, we buy them, we decorate with them, we grow them, we pick them, we sweep them, we watch them sway in the light breeze. It somehow took this contrast of seeing them bloom in the middle of a busy night – a foliage covering a dilapidated dog cage in which there was once an angry, lonely dog I often tried making friends with – for them to take on new form in my eyes.
Here was when I realized just how a soft, fluttering leaf so much resembles a heart. This may sound like kindergarten musing on finding cute shapes in nature or a throwback tribute to our using leaves for our art project on Valentine’s Day, and I know that I, along with all others, have surely already once taken note of this similarity of shape and structure before. But isn’t this exactly what we lose along the way going to adulthood? Don’t we have so many of those small associations we used to take notice of and eventually learned to dismiss because we were told that we have better things to do and pay attention to, before we could even fully explore what we were on to with our growing minds?
And so now, allow me to dwell a bit on a leaf looking like a heart. And they don’t simply look alike, they are fashioned the exact same way with veins running through them, connected to a bigger whole. What if it’s not by chance? What if the simple shapes and structures of nature are not just to be fancied and studied as something separate, but are actually the clues to who we all are, where we all come from, where we are all headed, and how we are all so deeply connected?
Sadhguru, a mystic whom I adore, explains the importance of meditation so beautifully in the context of our troubles with climate change and our environment today. He always says, if a person meditates and learns through experience, as he focuses on the experience of his breath, he may begin to understand how direct his relationship to a tree is. What the tree releases as oxygen, a person breathes in and exhales as carbon dioxide, which the tree takes back in and releases again for us to be able to keep on breathing. He will understand the meaning of coexistence with other living things and that without the tree, he will not live. This reality is both simple and magnificent. This is the experience of our breath: the entire basis of our daily existence and our co-existence with nature. So Sadghuru says, if a person understands that experience fully from within himself, will anyone outside himself ever have to demand from him to not cut down a tree?
This is how intimate our relationship is with our heart-shaped leaf. And if we take it from here, from knowing that we are no more and no less than an imitation of a growing plant, it makes sense to assume that we, too, may wither and bloom depending on how we are tended to. And if we tend well to ourselves – if we intend well – it can be the most powerful thing in the whole Universe. We, too, may reach out and intertwine with others, beautify our surroundings, and be sources of nourishment and strength. Our hearts are powerful instruments that serve both our individual bodies and evolution as a whole.
The Heart Universe
I think of the heart as somewhat of a big bang. An explosion of life from which everything else begins to form and operate. Until we are an entire solar system, an entire galaxy, orbiting and moving around our heart center.
Isn’t it wonderful if the reality of our nature is simply that we all mimic one another, take form from one another’s examples and inspiration, follow each other’s lead, duplicate, grow, evolve? From planets, to people, to a budding leaf? Scientists say that the first human ancestor was a fish. Isn’t a fish shaped as a heart, too? And now, we have grown our fins into limbs, our arms and legs growing ever longer, reaching out to the world around us and walking on the bare earth. Don’t our palms and bare soles, from which our newest opposable thumbs and long fingers and toes grow, also mimic the shape and patterns of a beating heart?
Our hearts are our main Source. It is the first signal that alerted the world of our Life. Our brain followed, in cellular time, much, much, much later. Our hearts tap into knowledge that our brains know nothing about because while our brain takes knowledge from its immediate outer environment and senses, our hearts take from something far beyond what we sense and know about in our physical structures and identifications.
It is plugged into somewhere far, far deeper, and larger. And only through intention can we access it and then flow our energy out towards the direction we truly desire.
Want to change the world? Better yet, do you want to be the principle creator of the world that you are living in?
Get to the root of who you are.
Find your sunshine and align.
Never mind the world, grow your heart.