The way you describe your life and portray yourself is directly related to how you live your life on a day-to-day basis.
Every moment of the day you are deciding how to live your life. Maybe you’re not deciding this consciously, but you’re still deciding it in the way that you respond to your life circumstances. Can you think of a new possibility for yourself? Or something you can do right now in this present moment to move your life forward in a positive way? Maybe it’s to follow through on something you said you wanted to do—like eat better, go to the gym, but it can also be to pray, to call a friend you’ve been meaning to call, to take a deep breath, or to take a walk to clear your mind.
Participating fully in the present moment is going to help you create a meaningful life. So if you’re holding on to a painful past, and if you find it difficult to let it go, what’s important is to know that your past does not define you unless you allow it to. So if your past has been difficult and it feels really hard to get over something, the question becomes: How do you get beyond your past? And the answer sounds easy, but it can be tough, YET it always works: You can get beyond your past by challenging the conclusions you’ve drawn about it.
So I’d like you to ask yourself, especially if you’re stuck in a difficult situation, to challenge your conclusions. You see, what keeps you stuck the most might be just wanting to know why something happened the way it did. And unfortunately, you may never know why a certain thing happened. Instead, remember that you did learn something valuable, and no matter how difficult, you learned and are now wiser.
You know, we are all interpreting out of our own judgments and our own filter. Things are not always as they appear to be. So it’s helpful to lift yourself above your current set of circumstances, look down on your situation, and decide to move on.
…And what about forgiveness? You see, not forgiving a person can cause you tremendous emotional discomfort and heartache. You might find yourself upset with someone–maybe you feel betrayed–and you rehash repeatedly what happened–even if it happened last year, trying to make sense of something that makes no sense. By continuing to expend your energy in this way, you lose your life force and this impacts your spirit. Often you are unable to enjoy or participate in the present moment that you have that is actually okay now.
So choose to forgive others if you want to move forward. Plain and simple, you wish them well. And you decide you learned a lot from the experience. After all, we came in to learn. And then you move on with love and compassion as your traveling partners. Oh, and, of course, forgive yourself!
So don’t adopt or live out a life role that is contrary to what you want your life to be. Remember that you are the author of your own story. You didn’t come in to try out for a part in someone else’s drama as your main role, and you can revise your story at any time.
Above all, remember: You are what you believe you are. So believe in something good!
What is forgiveness and why is it so important to forgive to create heart harmony? The most simplistic definition of forgiveness is to stop feeling anger toward or to stop blaming someone who has done something wrong. For those of us who have been pained by another person, particularly a person of a past relationship, to forgive may feel impossible. Many people hold false myths about forgiveness such as, to forgive means they have to forget. Is that true? NO, you may never forget. In fact, if something horrific happened to you, you are not likely to forget it, but you can forgive. And forgiving does NOT mean you are condoning what the person did to you. Also, forgiving does not mean that you have to verbally have a conversation with that person. You can go into your own heart and forgive without having any conversation with the other person at all.
In reality, when you forgive you are shifting your perception about what happened. You’re giving up any perception of victimhood that you were feeling by not allowing that person to have power over you. And by doing so, a space opens up from which you can live more fully.
So how do you forgive? At some point you have to retell the story in a more empowered way and be willing to let it go. Instead of holding yourself to be a victim, you must be able to witness a “bigger picture” than what you believe occurred. What did you learn from this experience? How did this event contribute to your overall growth and development?
Forgiving is about letting go of the past and deciding that you are now the hero and author of your life story. Forgiving is about comfort, kindness, and gentleness to your own soul. Above all, it about liberating yourself!
As we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day by showing a friend or love one that we care, I am reflecting about the heart itself, its role in cellular memory and health, and how my own interest in the heart led to a way of teaching and living I call “Heart Living.”
Many of you know I had an incredible experience that changed my life during a trip to Bosnia in 1997. The experience caused me to redirect my life—the work I was doing and the contribution I was making in the world. As a result I created a concept called “Heart Living” which is a way of living that is directed by your heart-consciousness. It is based on the idea that the heart has a unique intelligence unto itself—it is not taken from an idea that living from an emotional stance that people often associated with the heart. Heartliving is about a form of heart intelligence. As I created this way of living and understanding life, creating tools for leading from the heart, I also studied the origin of the heart throughout history. And here are several ideas from that material:
The heart symbol itself, the icon-shape that we call the heart, can be traced back to a time before the last Ice Age when Cro-Magnon hunters in Europe used the symbol.
Egyptians historically believed that the heart was the center of morality and life. After a person died, according to legend, the heart was taken to the goddess of justice where it was weighed against the weight of a feather. If the person’s heart was lighter than the feather (Feather of Maat—M A A T), the person rose into the afterlife.
In Christian theology, the heart has had a major role–the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, seen as emitting light and suffering, was a symbol of love and sacrifice.
Ancient Romans understood that the heart was the single most vital organ in the body in regard to sustaining life. And Ancient Greeks, in approximately 400 BC, began to associate the heart as the center of the soul and the source of heat within the body.
Languages in all cultures contain phrases and statements placing the heart as important and essential to our connection to life. When people are sincere about their engagement with something, they’ll often make statements like “their heart is in the right place” or they are “doing it with all their heart.” Another common phrase is “If your heart’s not in it, you’re not either.”
In Asian culture, it is believed that the body is one’s palace and the heart is the emperor. All the organs are considered lieutenants to the heart. If an organ is problematic or there are symptoms, the entire body’s system is looked at closely. So, for example, the gall bladder is considered the first lieutenant to the heart and if it is acting up, then the question might be “what are you not allowing yourself to feel—or what are you not allowing into your heart?” In other words, more than just a physical issue, there would be attention given to what is also a psychological or spiritual component—what we today refer to as body/mind awareness.
Scholars and physicians saw the connection between the heart and lungs and became aware of the heart’s pumping action. In 1628, English physician William Harvey detailed how blood travelled throughout the body, propelled by the pumping of the heart. This work became a major breakthrough in how the world thought about the human body.
Finally, around 1700, historians believed that the “heart” was the single most important word in the human language and referred to the mind and the body.
So where are we today with the heart and research from not only a physical stance but from a body/mind/cellular connection?
Researchers more recently have studied the intelligence and coherence of the heart, believing the heart to have more impact on one’s emotions, mind, and health than ever thought possible. In a nutshell, research has shown that the heart is an Intelligent Cellular System and holds a critical, vital position within the cells and their functions in a person’s body. It’s also suggested that the heart may hold the greater consciousness of a person’s soul, more so than the mind. The term “heart intelligence” was created from this research and expresses the idea that the heart is an intelligent system that has the power to bring both the emotional and the mental systems into balance and harmony. Managing over 75 trillion cells, the heart is considered the primary electromagnetic center of the body. Heart cells are considered to be more tightly organized and the heart’s internal signal stronger than that produced in any other part of the body, including the brain. Even more impressive, the heart is considered an organ of communication that can potentially manage the body’s intuitive processes. The power of a person’s heart harmony, defined as a “logical connectedness, internal order, or harmony,” directly affects the individual’s health.
So your heart affects other people’s hearts and their hearts affect yours. And of course our hearts affect the global consciousness itself. Every heart contributes and is so important.
Your growth in life requires what I call “an archeological dig into yourself” to gain understanding. In other words, it’s helpful to go back and look at old beliefs, how you got them, and whether or not they are helping you now.
I believe that often we suffer because we have roamed so far from our true core that we don’t know who we are. We haven’t looked into our own vulnerable hearts in so long, we wouldn’t recognize ourselves if we did.
We may run from this inner awareness because we feel that if we actually gave attention to it, we would be overwhelmed. Our perceptions of what is and isn’t are what make our life feel either good or bad, either sacred or monstrous. These perceptions create our point of view about who we are, about who other people are, and about life itself.
We engage in our life dramas every day. Each of us is starring in our own play called “Life” and we are partnered with other cast members to share life’s lessons. We’re all on each other’s stages together.
Our issues, our fears, and our vulnerabilities cause us to protect our real needs and I believe even to negotiate away our power. Yet at our deepest level, we want to be ourselves, say what we feel, be who we are (not with intent to harm another but simply to be true to ourselves), yet we sometimes respond by denying our feelings because we are afraid our partner will leave us. Or we may do work that we don’t like or that doesn’t inspire us because it keeps us feeling safe and secure. We decide how we think the world is and we create a list of judgments about ourselves and others.
And the truth is that we are really all looking for the same thing—which is to be loved and valued.
If you want to change and improve your life, you have to apply a gentle curiosity to what is going on in your own vulnerable heart. A wonderful exercise is to ponder the following questions:
Who lives there in your heart?
What does your heart wish to tell you about your life right now?
What do you need and desire?
What are you willing to let go of or bring into your life?
Opening your heart and listening to it improves the balance and health of your body, mind, and spirit.
Do you try to please everyone? –Try to control everything so as not to meet your fears? –Try to be a superstar at your own expense because, after all, YOU can do it best?
Here are a few tips for living in better balance:
1. Understand that reactionary behavior perpetuates states of imbalance, so instead of quickly reacting, try pausing, thinking things through, and then responding with conscious intention.
2. If you are a human “doing,” anxiety may feel natural. Try relaxing so that you have a reference point for balance.
3. Practice mindfulness in the moment. Be here now. For example, when you wash a dish, truly wash it, feel the soapy water and sponge, without having your mind be somewhere completely different.
4. Focus on your breathing from time to time. You can wear a rubber band on your wrist (assuming you don’t normally do this!) and when you notice it throughout the day, check in with your breathing. Breathe deeply from your lower abdomen and slowly, allowing the breath to relax your body.
5. Challenge your assumptions and beliefs about anything that troubles you. What is really happening in the situation? Let go of ideas that do not serve you.
6. Practice mind-body methods, such as meditation, walking, listening to relaxing music–all of which will calm your spirit and help take you out of the rat-race pace.
By slowing down in general, in a very magical way, you become more focused and less distracted, better able to respond to what is important in your life.