Patanjali’s yoga Sutra 34, Book III states in Sanskrit:
One translation is, “ Perfect concentration on the heart reveals the contents of the mind.”
As a generalization, we probably don’t spend a lot of time concentrating on our hearts unless there is a concern about its health or we happen to be in the throes of new love. To quote Joe Dispenza, “Where we place our attention is where we place our energy”. Since the heart is literally the driver of our physical life and the seat of our spiritual self, giving it attention can reveal much about our state of mind and the state of our energy.
Feeling and sensing are associated with the heart whereas thought is considered the domain of the head. Our feeling and emotional states are intimately connected to how we are breathing. Qi gong master Lee Holden observed that anger is associated with resistance to inhaling or taking in another’s perspective. Angry people tend to sputter and huff a lot. Sadness, on the other hand is closer to resistance to exhaling. One may feel choked up, and emote with ragged exhalation or crying. In either case, even slow deep breathing is the key to restoring emotional balance and energy to the heart.
Love is a felt sense, a state of Being, that is whole. As we breath slowly and smoothly with attention on the heart, we begin to feel its unique quality of wholeness, its desire for our well-being. The healthy heart does not oppose or hate or fear anything. It recognizes that fear and hate are not the opposite of love but are the separation from love. When we place our attention on the heart and breathe deeply, we clearly see how the mind has created a mistaken identity of duality where insecurity, lack and fear can abide. By coming back to the heart breath again and again, we move our state of being (mind and heart) from duality to unity. We overcome our limitations and little by little begin to feel more whole, healthy and joyful.
A simple practice for the next time you are feeling afraid, anxious, nervous. Recognize where you are and where you would like to be in the moment. Place one hand over your heart and breathe into it. Breathe deeply 4-5 seconds in and 4-5 seconds out. Stay with it for a minimum of 3 minutes. Feel and sense, don’t try to think about, what is happening. You may notice the thoughts settling down, the brain and autonomic nervous system switching from stress to ease. The effects of this simple practice get stronger, swifter and more powerful with repetition. The insights and fulfillment gained with practice will far outweigh the small effort required to undertake it. You are literally aligning with love.
Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash