I find myself having to very consciously return to heart perception many times a day these days. I find that this perception adds in a different, or maybe more expanded, perspective to whatever I might experience in a given moment. Especially when I feel activated or discouraged, I find that heart perception enfolds that feeling with something that my cognitive self doesn’t access. I can’t exactly explain it, and my heart perception doesn’t change my mind if I think there’s something I need to do to respond to a situation or moment that doesn’t feel right. Instead, it’s more like my thoughts, feelings, and actions have an added element that allows me to do what I need to do, but with an accompanying sense of compassion, or connection, or a more enlivened commitment to move in directions that support healing.
For this week’s experiment, I invite you to notice what happens when you add heart perception to whatever you may experience in a given moment and then to notice if anything shifts in your awareness. For example, if you find that you want to take action in support of others on behalf of the environment and/or human rights, notice if adding in heart perception offers additional support or strength to what you want to do.
Some questions that can be helpful in accessing heart perception are, “What would my heart say about this.” “What would my heart want to do about this?” “What does heart perception add to my experience right now?” Consistently, I’ve found that heart perception inevitably brings a different quality, compared to cognitive perceptions alone. For me, adding it in as a more ongoing element of my awareness has been personally supportive and reassuring, and reinforces a feeling of being connected to something larger than my individual self.
You might find that you have mixed feelings about adding in what your heart perceives, especially if you are actively distressed about something that you desperately want to change. Mixed feelings are inevitable, and perhaps you can invite your curiosity to help you explore what difference it might make to include your heart’s awareness in the feelings you are having at any given moment, even when you are highly activated.
I also recommend, as I have before, adding in regular heart-based practices, such as the Buddhist practice of Tonglen (there’s a form of it on this website), and HeartMath. I’ve mentioned before that HeartMath has made an app available called Inner Balance. The app is free and then you order a sensor from HeartMath (I also got one on Amazon, as delivery was faster). With the sensor, you can then practice moving into heart awareness with feedback from the Inner Balance app.
The more you practice paying attention to heart awareness, the easier it is to include it as part of what you draw on as you move through your daily life and your everyday activities. And, as is true with all these experiments, there’s no right way to deepen your relationship with heart awareness. Instead, this is one more opportunity to notice how your internal state of being—your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, actions, and impulses—generates your inner quality of life. Remember that each moment, when engaged with mindful awareness, offers a choice point, a new opportunity to explore what works best for you to allow you to be centered and grounded as you engage your world.