21 Day Body Love Challenge – Heart of the Brain Matter

Grey zen stone in shape of heart, on sand background

If you are reading this you have a heart. And thank you. Even if someone is reading this to you, you have a heart. It is one tangled mess of a muscle that we cannot live without.

But when you think heart, do you think of that dark red pulsing thing with its aorta and valves and ventricles? Or do you think of the simplified Valentine? Perhaps something in between. Or maybe you think more of energy and emotion. There are no wrong answers.

When I think of my own heart I first listen carefully, trying to notice my heart beat. Sometimes it’s making its presence known, at other times it’s quietly doing its job. But then I begin to attach stories and emotion to it. How many times I’ve had it broken, or put it out there. How it likes to love. Or doesn’t.

The heart knows stuff, but it’s the connection to the brain that helps us understand that stuff.

People who have undergone heart transplant surgery often report liking or disliking something they never did before. They have flashes, like someone else’s memories. There are brain cells in the heart. At the very least there is a connection.

Much research has been done in recent years on the heart-brain connection.  The heart sends more information to the brain than the other way around. According to the Institute of HeartMath, the heart sends signals to the brain that can influence perception, emotional experience and higher mental processes.

They are in cahoots. To fall in love with your own heart would be to also fall in love with your brain and ultimately your mind. This is the mind-body connection. When we are able to fully connect to both in harmony, we begin to find synchronicity in life and are treated to serendipitous moments and magic we like to think of as coincidence. We’re aware and present.  In love with life.

When our heart gets broken we disconnect. We don’t want to feel the icky feelings. Not right now. If we don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist. We’ll come back to it later when we’re feeling better, which is a lot like saying you’ll join the gym as soon as you lose some weight. The disconnect only stalls things, it doesn’t fix them.

Staying connected, even through the pain, maybe especially through the pain, allows us to live more fully. If we begin to disconnect during strong emotional times, we’ll also miss the absolute joy that is available to us.

Feel the feelings. Think the thoughts. Let them find their way to each other, then let them work it out. It’s integration and it brings with it a tremendous feeling of grounded joy.

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

21 Day Challenge – Day 13 – Gut check

After the rain IMG_1948

I have this internal gauge that lets me know when it’s time. It tells me when I’m done with something, usually kind of big and potentially life changing things: a job, a relationship, a town. Lately I can feel the valves beginning to close on an aspect of my life. Marriage is solid, community is strong, this has to do more with work.

I begin to feel it as an exasperation, there’s a lot of sighing involved. ‘I don’t wanna’ whiny vibes emanate from my gut. Then my head starts to tell me a bunch of stories about how good this job/person/place (we’ll call it ‘noun’) is. Trying to trip me up. Sometimes it works, it usually delays the ultimate act, but rarely changes the decision.

In response the gut speaks louder, it gets angry and starts to find fault in everything having to do with noun, down to a single unrelated incident that somehow is now noun’s fault. The mind reminds me of the good things noun has done for me and strongly recommends I maintain status quo. That’s its job.

The gut is pissed off. It’s time. The mind just wonders if this is really the best time to make such a big change.

The gut is done. The mind makes one last ditch effort; you know making this change now will affect everything you want to do, your whole life could change, is that what you really want?

YES!

And so it is. I have been playing this game for the past few months. I know what I need to do on an energetic level. It’s the financial level that scares me. A good chunk of my income is wrapped up in this decision. At the same time, my enchanted living is suffering.

I can see what is on the other side, I can feel it. I know what I am supposed to be doing, I get reminders and signs every single day. Every day.

I believe everything I have done that is perceived as negative; poor eating habits, lack of exercise, disorganization, financial debt are all ways to slow down my leap into this life that is waiting for me. It’s the mind protecting me from my bigness. It’s very scared of the unknown. Same is safe. New could be a mistake.

As I move through this challenge and begin to chip away at these bad habits and obstacles, the mind is fighting back. Rather than trying to convince me that I shouldn’t do what I feel called to do it’s guiding my hand toward the leftover Halloween candy. It pats my head and tells me to rest today, there’s no need to do yoga every day. It suggests I put the computer away for just one day so I can recharge so my writing will be fresher, bolder.

But I am onto it so I go to my mat, I open my computer and I continue. The key for me is to call up the vision, plant both feet firmly in it and dare the mind to knock me over. And if it does, the proof will be in getting back up. So far so good.

 [Photo: Bay tree after some much needed rain today.]