Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yoga to Bless Your Heart

My grandmother always said "bless your heart(s)" to everyone. I never thought about what she meant by it. I often hear people refer to following our heart instead of our head, or knowing something in the heart, as opposed to the intellect. In yoga classes I have often heard "bow your head to your heart." In church I have heard that God knows our hearts, even that our heart is the place where God resides. A favorite verse of mine is "People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart," (1 Samuel 16:7).

What is our heart, other than our most vital organ? Do we have an emotional heart, or a spiritual heart? Is it possible to be heartless? When we say that a person is heartless, do we really mean that they have lost the connection to their spiritual heart?

We are taught in yoga philosophy that the spiritual heart is where our deepest wisdom resides and our deepest longings are fulfilled.

In the city of Brahman is a secret dwelling, the lotus of the heart. Within this dwelling is a space, and within that space is the fulfillment of our desires. What is within that space should be longed for and realized. 

As great as the infinite space beyond is the space within the lotus of the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space, both fire and air, sun and moon, lightning and stars. Whether we know it in this world or know it not, everything is contained in that inner space. 

The Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter VIII

In the third book of the Yoga Sutras we read about perfect concentration on the heart. In studying the chakra system, we learn about anahata, the heart chakra. When we open our heart chakra we activate the core of our compassion and our ability to live from our higher self, the part of us that is pure love. 

Practicing yoga gives us a chance, should we choose to take it, to experience our spiritual heart. The focus on our breath and the linking of the breath to physical movement pacifies our busy minds; when mental activity slows, we can access parts of ourselves we may otherwise neglect. We train ourselves to turn compassionate awareness towards our experience, feeling instead of analyzing, staying present instead of chasing external distractions. 

In your practice today, and everyday, invite yourself to experience your heart, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Tune into your heart beat. Notice and allow emotions that arise as you practice. Explore the idea of a spiritual heart if it has meaning for you. When you do this, may you find an inexhaustible source of love that heals you from within and pours itself out to touch everyone you meet. 

Amen. Om. Peace. xo

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