Ever wonder what, a nephews grad night, fukashima, food poisoning, the purity of a childs joy, the titanic and restless nights all have in common?
Well last week while confined to bed and the harrowing dance of food poisoning with a migraine (yes, hell on earth does exist) I had plenty of time to contemplate just all that, and much more. Why was I contemplating these seemingly random concepts and then deciding to blog about them? …
As I lay there, writhing in agony, something like a faint whisper or light breeze of the insides was nudging me to look beyond the obvious conclusion of food poisoning. That subtle place of deeper knowing was inviting me to see more…to get a little truer, a little larger on the inside and essentially become more integrated in my humanness. This process of hearing the whispers and coming to understand the nuances, this connecting to our own inner topography is what I mean when I say, living from the Heart.
It all started with my nephew’s grade 12 grad night. As you might expect it was the traditional Edmontonian celebration at the Shaw Conference Centre, with a 5 course meal (no alcohol), fancy ambiance, stunning dresses (unlike my day back in the 80’s), entertaining speeches and copious amounts of talent all packaged with a neat little 75$ bow… which, given 299 grads x full tables of 8, brought us to a whapping grand total of $179,400.
Personally, the evening was enjoyable, I was with people I love, the food was great (at the time) and I didn’t have to make it or clean it up, it was entertaining to hear and watch speeches and presentations and to see the creativity that went into making the night memorable. I appreciated all of that. But that didn’t represent the fullness of my inner topography, there were other nuances, a sort of inner static that presented in the background, that mysterious place of knowing, we all attempt to tune out, my Hearts knowing was unsettled.
It unsettled me that the tickets were 75$ a pop. Mine was a gift, keeping my pocket book flush, but what about all the people who are struggling to make ends meet? Is it considerate and living with heartedness to expect that all families can afford this and/or not be penalized somehow (socially, emotionally, economically) because their child is graduating? The Heart doesn’t omit details because they are inconvenient, too insignificant or time consuming to consider- this is the heads job.
It unsettled me because the celebration of what did not match the significance of the event. Essentially with little effort, for a single night of celebration, $179,400 was raised by one school in our city. Consider that we have numerous high schools AND this tradition goes on every single year without fail. As you consider please remember that famine, animal cruelty, fukashima, genocide, homelessness, mental illness, disease, environmental degradation, war and poverty all do still exist. These young people managed to graduate from grade 12… where in Canada it is mandatory to go to school, and also a privilege to have an education. Does the evening not seem a little culturally narcissistic? Does it not somehow remind you of the Titanic, when as the ship is sinking and people are screaming and flying off the rails in every direction, the band blindly plays on. There is a serious disconnect somewhere my friends between the head and the Heart. I’m not saying don’t celebrate a once in a lifetime milestone, please do celebrate, but put it in perspective and create it sustainably with consideration for the inclusion of the whole. In other words celebrate it whole Heartedly.
… but there’s more. Where is the love in sending our children off to some remote field on a bus with a mickey and a fond farewell? Hey, drink yourself sick, hopefully you won’t have permanent brain or body damage, I love you way too much for that, but drink just enough to sufficiently poison yourself, so you can spend the next day or two barfing. Would you feed your kid raw chicken, spoiled eggs or slimy lettuce on their birthday? However the head wants to spin it, the whole scene, is really lacking in Heart.
The wonders of the Heart we all share never cease to amaze me; working without interruption on average for 70-80 years, no care, cleaning or replacement required, day and night- 24/7…. beating 100,000 times a day, approximately 40 million times a year and over 70 years supplying the pumping capacity for nearly 3 billion pulsations….pumping 2 gallons of blood per minute, 100 gallons per hour, through a vascular network about 60,000 miles in length or 2&1/2 times the circumference of the earth! (Bircher-Benner) /Heart Math.
We all share this physical beating pulsation, this mystery that none of us can live without. This creature comprised with as much as 60% neural cells, unique knowing capacity and a beating rhythm somehow independent of the brain. And we too share the subtler aspects; the electromagnetic heart, 5000x more powerful than the brain, measured as far out as 10 feet from the human body, touching and influencing every single cell of our entire being with every single beat.
We measure this mysterious energy field in frequencies and correspond these frequencies to different emotional states such as joy, grief, contentment or peace. Understanding that these emotional states then correspond to our bodies alchemical fluxuations of hormones and neuropeptidal soup… the messengers of every single bodily function from blood pressure, immune function, digestion, bone growth, to skin repair, sleep patterns , moods and bad hair days… you name it.
The mysteries of the Heart have been written into text, religion, poetry, philosophy and Sutra for thousands of years, spanning cultures, race, creed and country. Exclaimed throughout the ages in song, dance and ceremonial ritual, this Heart we all share is both a physical phenomenon and an experiential learning for all of us as we live out our days. Might I interject here, that my studies began with the brain…. and while I shall never diss the fascinations of the brain, I will add that no one is singing about their achy breaky brain or writing poetry, prose or sutra that deeply touches and moves the brain.
The Heart is always searching to integrate the whole. Longing for union, inclusion and re-joining (yui, to yoke, yoga). This inclusive re-joining is our own inner wisdom. Yoga Sutra 1.2 Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodahah ; yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature- joy.
The experience of joy is a mysterious thing. When my son was 3 months old, he would giggle, while sound asleep in his crib. The sounds of his tiny voice giggling felt like poetry to my whole being. It was as though cellular twinkles rippled through my body/mind. Have you ever heard a sleeping baby giggle? Remembering this tender moment still moves something in my Heart, but at the same time it was also perplexing to my head. I struggled to make sense of his joyful sounds and the smile on his little face when I knew he was too young to comprehend anything joyful or amusing. Did he just happen to be a kid getting great dopamine hits in his sleep? Do we inherit memories from ancestors, past lives, or live elsewhere in our sleep? Why were his frontal lobes operating? Was there some dream state rousing his little body to fits of giggles? … yes, maybe, probably, who the heck knows?…. more importantly, do you notice how the dissecting instrument of the head, by its very style of separation, exclusion and elimination, misses the whole point?
Do you notice the head or the Heart when considering how our global systems are set up or contemplating answers and solutions to complex issues such as world peace, environmental sustainability or our human health (to name a few). Do you notice how the very answers we seek only reside in the whole?
Whole hearted living is not trite, simple, easy, sentimental, or working on the dime of the industrialized economic system as it exists now. Was it food poisoning, yes, probably, but was that the whole of it? When we live from the Heart we live largely on the inside. Living largely on the inside means changes on the outside. Changes on the outside, when living largely on the inside, are life giving to more than just the narcissistic pursuits of self and self interest, sustainable beyond this week, next month or even next year, warm and inclusive of varying demographics, races and species, tolerant of diversity and of time beyond the linear, understanding and compassionate beyond narrow head ideas but ultimately when actually incorporated provide joy on the inside and on the outside!
Yoga Sutra 1.2 Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodahah
Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature-