Whirlwind: How The Heart Is Wiser Than The Mind

There are times when our thoughts sweep us away.  We get caught up in the whirlwind of the mind’s magnetic pull, and something needs to happen to reel us back to the moment we’re actually in and what is happening there.  It could be something small: we have forgotten the bread in the oven, or we’re stopped at a traffic light, being honked at because it has turned from red to green.  It could be something heavy that stops us in our tracks: someone has passed away unexpectedly, or our spouse wants a divorce.

Miniscule or massive, either way we are being brought back, slapped, woken up, snapped out of auto-pilot mode, our train of endless thought barreling down the tracks with no conductor at the wheel.  When we take up a practice that requires discipline and presence such as yoga, meditation, or simply deep-breathing, we start to cultivate our awareness.  Cultivating our awareness leads to the realization of just how much power our thoughts and emotions have over us.

We slowly begin to be less eager to always be doing something, to fill up every waking moment with whatever meets the approval of our mind and its current content.  We start to explore the space in our mind instead of the content of our mind, and in doing this we begin to find peace.  Stepping out of the arena of incessant thought and obsessive emotion is like stepping out of a whirlwind.  Part of us is always still in it, but we can learn to be less swept away by it.

This is how the heart is wiser than the mind.  When we say “I realized I had stopped listening to myself”, we are usually referring to our hearts, not our heads.  When we let the content of our minds become less important, we give ourselves the gift of working towards peace.  Take the time, make the time, take stock of what’s in our hearts, slow down, pause, consider, notice.  Then, too, we can start to be of greater service to others because we are truly taking care of ourselves first.  Without nourishing our own hearts and spirits first, our potential to spread joy and healing to others will likely be limited, interrupted.

What we decide we “know” becomes just another set of shackles within the cage of the ego, if we hold the knowledge rigidly.  The mind would have us follow it, mile after mile, down its many roads: desire, fear, justification, assumption, grudge, addiction.  It wants desperately to hold on, to feel like it knows something, to be right about things, to endlessly nurse its wounds, to rave about all the sources of its pain and hurt.

If we hold the knowledge loosely, though, we can simultaneously benefit from it and release it.  We can make our minds flexible, make our beliefs pliable, liberate ourselves from all the things we were once so certain about, the stuff we believed to comprise the sum total of our life’s potential, our very identity.  We can open doors, remove blockages, step out of the whirlwind and return to our awareness: simple, calm, uncluttered, lucid with breathtaking clarity.

And the heart knows that to be at peace, it must ignore the ravings of the mind.  When we learn to listen better to our heart, our heart learns to stop listening to the mind.  We lead with our heart and we see that the rest just sort of takes care of itself.  The movie of our life begins to change in tonality and theme, because once we accept ourselves for who we are, we allow our projector to change.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

Depth Perception

Turning ourselves inside out takes courage, and a willingness to accept ourselves as we are without blurring the lines of what-is with the stories we tell ourselves.  Transformation is difficult because what the ego labels as “truth” in any given moment is subject to change.

The mind has a way of taking you down whatever road it finds most comfortable – in other words, whatever mirror reflects the ego’s current beliefs, that’s the mirror it looks at.  The ego must surround itself with those reflections in order to strengthen and qualify its current version of the truth, its version of what is real.  It’s as if the mind picks up a handful of – well, whatever it can get hold of – and calls it “the truth”, labels it “the world”, classifies it as “the way things are”.

Yet it seems that truth is highly subjective.  One person’s truth might contain grains of another person’s truth, or fragments of a larger truth, or be shared among large groups of people.  But any one person’s individual version of truth cannot help but be small, narrow and limited, because as individuals we cannot help relating all information back to ourselves somehow.  We are unable to perceive things as anyone other than ourselves, and we cannot process information with any perception other our own.  Not to mention the fact that our field of experience is a field of opposites because we live in a dualistic world.

No one’s truth has anything to do with anyone else’s, and yet we are all headed for the same ultimate, inevitable truth of death.  As Prince sang in his song Controversy in 1981: “life is just a game, we’re all just the same”.

So, can we not be a ghost of ourselves?  Because all the ghost does is forever haunt the same old unresolved house of all the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs we once had.  Resolving emotions doesn’t mean abandoning the house, though – it means repairing it before you move out, fixing it up better than it was, and then leaving it behind like an insect larva shedding its exoskeleton so it can grow and assume a new form.

To loosen our grip on what we feel so certain is the truth would be to allow ourselves to change, to become “unstuck”, to actually go ahead and love the hardest person there is to love: ourselves.  And instead of playing it safe and always only being one version of ourselves, we may as well be all of it: our whole self, every part that’s ever been, and every part still to be discovered.  Could it be possible to make contact with the deepest parts of ourselves?

It’s a scary prospect, a stone our controlling ego would rather leave unturned.  We may not meet the world’s approval of what we find there.  We may be judged, disliked, even hated by those who choose the easy path of judgment over the strenuous path of understanding.  Why take ourselves to an uncomfortable – painful, even – place, and try to stay there?  The mind would much rather lounge in the warm glow of synesthesia – a stimulating confusion of the senses – than to broaden its understanding of itself.

Yet it is possible to open more fully.  Go on now.  Shine a light in the darkest corners.