Miracles happen when you connect with your heart!
Heart-centred… It’s a very powerful concept.
But what exactly does it mean?
I believe the definition is very personal, different for each of us. It’s taken me many years to really understand the true meaning and the value of living heart-centred for a fulfilling life.
Where do you live? Your head or heart?
I used to live in my head 24/7, thinking all the time, planning my life in a rational way, making head-centred decisions. Head-centred can be a useful way to live. I accomplished a lot, achieved many goals. And my life has always been filled with love. But I very often felt that something was missing, out of balance. I often felt an underlying sense of unease.
I’ve been lucky and loved, but that doesn’t mean that life isn’t really hard sometimes. Aside from my husband and our life together, my career that has been my focus and has offered up so many life lessons. For many years, I loved my work and my job. It was a gift and I’m grateful for every moment. I had amazing opportunities, a lot of freedom, met so many talented people, learned so much. But then…I didn’t love it anymore. I realized I was staying in a job because it paid well, had a great title, and it sounded great. A well-paid job is a good reason to stay. But it came with a lot of stress, frustration and disappointment. Stress from the pressures of the job and the people, stress of working towards goals I didn’t really want after all. I was living in my head.
And I realized that I needed to get out of my head and into my heart. I needed to live with more awareness, to cultivate self-kindness, and to let go of a whole lot of unhelpful thought patterns. I realized, without necessarily being able to put the words to it, that I needed to connect with my heart and to live a more heart-centred life.
And I knew that I had to make a big change for a more fulfilling life. That’s a very scary thing to realize and even scarier to do! Luckily, the heart offers wisdom and also courage.
As I endeavoured to reinvent my life to find more fulfillment, serenity and satisfaction, yoga became my guide, meditation is where I found my answers. Mindfulness was my way out of my head and back to my heart, it grounded me in the present moment and gave me an unexpected perspective on my world and my life. My home practice became my therapy. And my practice space became my breathing space. Sanctuary. And all that lead me to create HUM.
My brand, HUM, is my way of taking all my gifts and my rational life learnings and turning them into a heart-centred business. I consciously make decisions based on intuition and on what feels best to me. OK…I can’t say it’s always the best business model…I choose earth-conscious materials, highest quality and customer inspiration over profits. This would not have been valued in my previous professional life! And frankly, it’s not great for my bottom line (yet). But it’s what my heart is telling me is best for me and for others. After all, business is not just about profits, it’s about the positive impact you can have on all stakeholders (myself, collaborators, vendors and customers) and on the environment. And there are other ways to measure success besides profits.
Miracles happen when you connect with your heart! Heart-centred living opens you up to your inner wisdom and deep insights, it’s a way to find more joy, balance and confidence, greater creativity, and a greater sense of fulfilment. It expands your capacity to love yourself and to love others, and that’s a really good thing for everyone.
Living heart-centred doesn’t mean life is always easy, or positive. Sometimes it’s much harder to live in your heart than to live in your head. It takes work and time to get there. For me, it’s still a work in progress. But I've discovered that it's never too late to create a more balanced heart-centred life.
HEART-CENTRED LIVING… WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
To me, it means living an authentic life which comes from the following:
HEART AND HEAD
We definitely need both. It’s about balance and cooperation between our heart and head. The heart offers intuitive wisdom, the head offers rational wisdom. You could say it’s about Feeling vs.Thinking. All that monkey-mind chattering and planning and rehearsing and worrying is happening in your head. It could be said that your “true” self lives in your heart, where your own inner wisdom can be heard. Too bad it's hard to hear it over the loud and busy chattering of the head! Many of us tend to live mostly in our head and maybe even ignore the heart’s wisdom. But this creates an uncomfortable imbalance that can have a lot of negative effects, for body, mind and soul.
FIND YOUR WAY TO YOUR HEART
I invite you to explore what heart-centred and heart-centred living means to you and to think about how you can make changes to bring more blissful balance between heart and head. You don’t need to radically change your lifestyle, like I did, to live a more heart-centred life. You can move into it gently step by step. And there are many tools available to us to - yoga, meditation and mindfulness can work wonders.
Here are 6 ways that you can begin to connect with your heart energy, and to be on your way to creating your authentic, heart-centred life.
1. Place Hands Over Heart
Sometimes the simplest way to your heart is just to feel it. Hands over heart, connecting, listening. Place your hands on your heart, one on top of the other, close your eyes and connect with your heart energy. Sitting silent and still, you may hear or feel your heart beating, you may just feel the energy. Do this for a few minutes each day, simply focusing on your heart…your source of courage and wisdom…and listen to the messages that come to you.
2. Practice Heart-Centred Breathing
The HeartMath Institute has done a lot of research about the benefits of aligning the energy of your heart, mind, and emotions. Focusing your attention at heart centre for several minutes can create a state of clarity and calm; a state in which you can access your inner knowing.
To practice their simple and effective Heart-Centred Breathing technique, come to sit in a comfortable seated position, with a neutral pelvis and spine. This means sitting on a meditation cushion, or upright on a straight-backed chair with your feet on the floor.
Place your hands over heart centre and imagine your breath is flowing in and out of the heart area or the centre of your chest. Take slow, relaxed breaths, and continue to focus on the movement of your breath in and out of your heart.
Breathe here for about five minutes (set a timer perhaps, or play a favourite, beautiful piece of music to meditate with.)
Afterwards, check in with how you feel - and trust the clarity that arises from your heart.
3. Chant Om Mani Padme HUM, The Mantra of Compassion and Love
Pronounced OM-MAH-NEE-PAD-MAY-HUM, it’s a 6 syllable mantra related to Avalokitshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion and love. It's one of the most universal of all mantras, the embodiment of loving kindness. And there's a whole lot of meaning wrapped up in these 6 syllables.
The centre of the mantra, MANI PADME, translates to “the jewel is in the lotus”, and it is surrounded by two sacred seed syllables: OM (the primordial sound of the universe that connects us to universal vibration and spiritual energy) and HUM (the all-encompassing, unwavering spirit of wisdom and enlightenment).
We can imagine that the sacred lotus is our heart, and that we have only to search within ourselves to find the hidden treasure of joy, love and compassion. And by reciting the mantra over and over we can call on universal energy to cultivate our own inner wisdom in order to clear away the mud until we find our pure loving self.
For some people, this powerful mantra is a pathway to enlightenment. For others, keeping an image of the mantra in some form or repeating it with good intention within your meditation practice is a profound reminder to look deep into your heart to find beauty and wisdom. And a reminder to embrace the fundamental human qualities such as compassion, kindness and love.
You can chant out loud or silently to yourself.
4. Heart-Centred Padma Mudra
A mudra is a powerful gesture that can be done with the whole body but that is most often done using the hands and fingers, placed in a specific position.
“Padma” means “lotus” which is a symbol of purity. This mudra looks like a lotus flower blossoming at heart centre. You can think of Padma Mudra as an opening and offering of love, compassion and gratitude straight from your heart that you send out to nourish the world. It’s a beautiful mudra to use during Loving Kindness meditation. It can be grounding and uplifting at the same time.
Stand in mountain pose, or sit in easy pose. Begin with your hands in Anjali Mudra at heart centre (with palms and fingers pressed together). Keep your wrists, thumbs and little fingers pressed together as you blossom the three middle fingers away from each other into a lotus flower. Allow this flower to be a cup that fills and funnels the energy of love, kindness and compassion right into your heart centre.
You can use this mudra during your meditation or yoga practice, or you can just do it any time you wish you connect with your heart and offer some love and compassion out to the world.
5. Connect With Your Heart Chakra
Connect to the loving energy of the heart chakra, Anahata. This is the centre of unconditional love - loving, being loved. The colour is life-giving green, and the element is air. The air, the breath - there is always enough, so we can receive freely and let go freely - what a perfect symbol to teach of love. Connect to the green growing things around you, and to whatever is on your plate that was nourished by the sun through the alchemy of green. Read love poetry - the mystic Rumi, perhaps? In your yoga practice, focus on the heart centre in opening extension poses like Cobra or Fish Pose, and also in receptive poses like Child’s Pose or a Yin forward fold like Half Dragonfly.
6. Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude is a very powerful vibration. Staying in gratitude, simply focusing on appreciation, can really change your perspective, change your life. It can even slow your heart rate down to smooth, calm beats. Gratitude is the greatest opener of heart energy. So open your eyes and your heart to all the gifts and the beauty in your life and see it grow all around you.
There are many ways to practice gratitude daily. One of the easiest is to use a gratitude journal, writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for each day. For me, I’ve found that the easiest way is to add a timed one minute to the end of my meditation practice (using my meditation timer). For that minute, when I am calm and focused, I think about and list to myself some of the things I am grateful for at that moment, on that day.
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