We are often told to follow our heart. The biggest question I hear and I hear it often, is how do you tell the difference between the mind and the heart? Which voice is the logic and which is my gut instinct?
I spent years trying to somehow find a way to squeeze just a part of me into the mould of what I was told was acceptable. I did things I thought I ought to and very little of it made me happy. I was so torn as I knew I couldn’t follow the crowd yet I yearned to belong. I found myself constantly searching and nothing felt right for very long. I repeatedly moved house. I moved town, I moved state, I travelled and wandered overseas for a while. I saw some amazing things and I had glimpses of real joy but it was always fleeting.
I had one soul destroying corporate job after another. I lost count of all the times I sat at an office desk and felt like I was dying. My very being was suffocating and I didn’t feel like there was purpose in what I did. My mind was often very loud, like I was standing in a room full of radios all blaring at me. There was a different message on each radio, all of them negative and nasty, critical and contradictory. I vividly recall being at beautiful Coogee Beach, where I lived. I couldn’t see the beauty around me, I only felt the hell going on inside me. I had silently suffered through many years of depression and at that time it had intensified. I stood at the cliffs edge and looked down at the rocks below, wondering if me hurtling myself off would end my internal suffering. Instead I chose to surrender. I chose to surrender all my hurts, all my feelings of failure, all my unfulfilled dreams and all my expectations. I wanted to get into the passenger seat and let God drive for a while. I was exhausted and lonely and tired of keeping up appearances.
Then the most amazing thing happened.
Illness allowed the course of my life to change dramatically. I found myself having a profound spiritual experience. I read everything I could get my hands on that helped me unlearn everything I knew. I dropped should and shouldn’t, I dropped good and bad, I dropped right and wrong. I found myself beneath all the layers. I recognised that there was no death. I was amazed by the realisation of my connection to all things. I experienced moments of the most incredible bliss. All the while the real me was underneath just waiting, not for my discovery but for my remembrance.
When your heart is in charge the flavour of your life will be rich and have depth. Your decisions will defy all logic, there will be very little you can define and most importantly you will know true happiness. Anything you do that is perceived as a mistake will just be an experience. You will find extreme joy in the simplest of things. Playing with the dog. Hanging out the washing. Giving a friend a hug. I watch you and marvel at your excitement at the little things. Your eyes wide with fascination as you reach out for a toy, remind me that your bliss is still close at hand. It is coursing through you as you are this beautiful, innocent, unspoilt creation. You are totally present or as Eckhart Tolle describes it, in the now. I want you to remember that bliss Seamus. I don’t want you to learn all the things I had to unlearn, like the fruitlessness of self-criticism or a sense of isolation. I don’t want you to feel like you are not good enough or that you should have done better. I don’t want you to identify with a broken down version of yourself. It is nothing but an illusion. Seamus, I want you to know yourself so intimately that you will have the courage to celebrate who you are and not compromise yourself at any cost. Then you will know a freedom that allows you to live your life completely. You will take risks and go against the grain because often that is the guidance of the heart. That to me, is the essence of self-love.
You are very smart, I can see that quite clearly. In our culture being intelligent is of great value and something to be prized. For me, there is no value in having a great big mind if you ignore your heart. Being of service is the most amazing thing you can do with your gift of intelligence. Use your mind for the service of your heart. Let your heart lead and your mind follow. If you see a homeless person on the street it can speak to your heart. However your mind can make judgements in an instant about how that person came to be in that situation. Don’t allow that. Let your heart feel compassion and use your mind to find the nearest supermarket to buy them a sandwich and a drink! You will have an experience with that person in that moment. Take the opportunity to connect with them, to ask them how they are and to look them in the eye as one human to another. That person could be you. They are still a magnificent, incredible, unique creation. We are all the same. We all come from the same place and we all go back to the same place. Pure energy.
Love yourself Seamus, so you can love others. Don’t follow, always lead with your heart and you will live your truth. Then you will shine brightly and remind others to do the same.
“The light which shines in the eye is really the light of the heart” – Rumi