In a past life as a psychologist, teacher, writer, and seminar leader, I achieved everything I believed would make me happy. I had a beautiful and fascinating wife, a wonderful family, a handsome home, and wealth beyond my wildest expectations. To the outside world, I probably seemed successful and powerful. Inside, however, was a gnawing omnipresent low-level anxiety and discontent. I had no intimate friendships and I was becoming more and more irritable and unhappy. Then, my marriage began to unravel. And, so did I.
At that time, I had no clue that I was about to embark on a journey that would lead to parts of myself I had never known and to a greater sense of personal power, more meaningful relationships, and fulfillment than I ever dreamed possible.
As clichéd as it may sound, the journey has been to my heart, my authentic self. When connected to my heart I am one with myself, everything around me, and to a Spirit that is greater than myself. At those moments my life is heavenly, flowing and fulfilling. When I am in that consciousness, especially in the face of difficulties, I feel powerful and I am my own hero.
I believe that much of what I’ve discovered is part of our common human hunger for inner peace and meaningful connections. My journey has meant confronting and deeply understanding issues such as:
- The behavior and feelings that come from my heart.
- The behaviors and feelings that occur when disconnected from my heart.
- The beliefs and fears that create my disconnection.
- How to return to my heart whenever I lose that connection
- How to clean up the problems that inevitably result when I’m disconnected from my heart.
The above list is what I will be sharing in my first round of blogs. Subsequent blogs will focus on specific behaviors, feelings and issues such as arguments, sex, anger, intimacy, judgments, gender identity, taking things personally, jealousy and much, much more. (To learn more about the essence of individuals, and issues such as sexuality, and institutions such as politics and religion see my video The Heart of The Matter.
Living in integrity with my authentic self is the primary focus in my life. Oneness in nature and awareness of my universal oneness is really important. But, staying connected to my heart in my everyday life is my greatest challenge.
Living in my heart all of the time is not the goal. In fact, I doubt that it’s even humanly possible (at least I’ve never known anyone personally who has been able to achieve that God-like state). It is, however, how I want to live more of the time.
Being connected to my heart is a moment-by-moment experience. I can lose my connection in one moment and get it back in the next. The important first step in living in that state of consciousness more of the time is becoming aware of when I am in oneness and when I am not. Without knowing that I’m disconnected from my heart I’m stuck in that state.
Becoming aware of my disconnection gives me a choice. I can continue my disconnected behavior and hope for a positive outcome (I love the idea that, “A definition of mental illness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result). Or, I can stop my disconnected behavior and reconnect to my heart.
There are a multitude of feelings and behavior that come both from being in my heart and being disconnected from it. My heart feelings are warm, tender and joyful. These feelings reflected in behavior that is accepting, open to learning, forgiving, and caring. My heart-disconnected feelings are cold, hard and irritable. These feelings are reflected in behaviors such as being argumentative, controlling and judgmental.
The feelings and behaviors that naturally follow being in oneness, are completely different than the feelings and behavior that arises from being disconnected from my heart. Many of these behaviors will be discussed in future blogs. Click here for a list of Heart Connected and Heart Disconnected Feelings and Behaviors.
Since it’s not easy for me to understand complex ideas, I try to make things as simple as I can. This was accomplished when I realized that when I’m in my heart, compassion and curiosity/being open to learning are always be present. A fail-proof test in any situation is to ask myself two questions, “Am I feeling compassion?” and “Am I open to learning?” If the answer to either of those questions is, “No” a big red flag goes up that says, “You’ve lost your heart.”
Skiing A Slippery Slope
Athletes call it the zone. Others talk about it as flow. Whatever you call it, most of us have had those awesome experiences while gazing into the eyes of a newborn child, coming to the aid of someone in a crisis, making love, playing with a pet, or losing ourselves in nature. In those moments of being totally present we glimpse what is possible when fear is not dominating our lives.
The first time I skied in the zone, I knew I wanted more. In studying this phenomenon, I learned that in the flow my body is balanced and I ski from my center. Beyond exciting, skiing is an effortless and a graceful spiritual dance. I lose what I think of as myself and become one with everything.
Skiing off-center is not bad or wrong. It’s just not as beautiful, much more work and not the fulfilling experience of the flow. My goal in skiing became learning how to spend more time in that state of oneness, and when I lost it, how to get it back.
It wasn’t much of a stretch to transfer my skiing awareness to how I lived my life. Realizing how much time I spent off-center, especially when confronting upsetting situations, was a sobering shock. Realizing the power and pleasure in that state of oneness I knew I wanted more than just occasional “Kodak moments.” Thus began my commitment to living more in oneness with my heart.
One of the things I like best about this analogy is that it helped me take the judgment off my heart-disconnected behavior. Just as in skiing, being off-center is not bad or wrong it’s just out of balance. Being human I will not be able to stay heart-connected all the time. But that’s not the main problem. Without the awareness that I’m off-center, I’m stuck and meaningful change is unlikely.
Once I’m back to center it is sometimes important to confront and learn about the fears and beliefs that closed my heart and got me off-center such as losing face or another person’s love (more about this in a later blog). Resolving the fears and beliefs that create my disconnection is how I am learning to stay centered more of the time.
For an illustration of the skiing analogy go to the Introduction Video.