"The Heart Journal"
By Carna Zacharias
Our materialistic, power-driven society values "smarts" more than feelings. Could this be why there are so many ailing hearts out there; so many hearts that are stressed, hurt, silenced? And can we, by healing our hearts on an emotional and spiritual level, heal our organic hearts as well?
THE HEART JOURNAL approaches the subject on an imaginative, mythological level that promotes healing from within not only for physically ill people, but everybody who is longing to reconnect to the heart as the true center of the universe.
The Wind of Change
The wind of change in our lives may come as a gentle breeze, nudging us to move on in order to grow and unfold spiritually. However, more often than we would like, it arrives as a storm, whirling us around like an autumn leaf. And sometimes the wind of change is a violent tornado that pushes us to the very edge of our existence.
There is crisis in everybody's life. For one person it is a single devastating tragedy, like the death of a child, spouse, or close parent. For another it is an ongoing ordeal, like a chronic health problem. For a third it is a difficult, life-changing decision that has to be made. Often many blows are delivered over a lifetime.
Crisis either "happens" to us, like the unexpected diagnosis of severe heart disease, or because we choose to bring about a drastic change in a conflicting situation. Although we might expect the second possibility to be easier on us, this is not always the case. If we decide to walk away from a job we love because our boss sabotages our work, we suffer nevertheless. Accordingly, everybody who goes through a divorce knows how much it hurts, no matter who files the papers.
From the standpoint of Soul (our Higher Self), crisis occurs when we are ready to move on, when it is time to take another step in our spiritual unfoldment. Just as the butterfly "knows" when it is time to leave the cocoon, Soul strives to break free from man-made boundaries, and the heart sets this agenda into motion.
Crisis does not always stem from disaster. Sometimes it evolves in slow motion out of our lives, and we have a lot of time to react to it. There are two main scenarios for this kind of crisis:
- We have been feeding the cat, kissing our spouse hello/good-bye, driving the kids places, holding down a job, feeding the cat again - for a long, long time. Life is not very exciting, but it is loving, safe and fulfilling in its own way. So why is there this unsettling, gnawing feeling that "something" profound is missing, something we cannot even begin to describe?
- We have felt lost from the beginning. There always has been a painful absence of love, ease and security in our life, and it broke our hearts. Then there were these strange, beautiful dreams or very early memories, brief glimpses of a fantastic, but real world. These experiences created a strong desire to find "it", although we did not know what "it" exactly was. In the old tales "it" is Utopia, the Water of Life, the Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail. In essence "it" is not of this world (that's why it is so hard to find).
When the sleeper awakes...
We have heard it before: Every crisis is an opportunity. It is the chance to take a giant step forward in our unfoldment as human beings. Many people have experienced this. Under the most dire circumstances, after having gone through the most severe loss and tragedy, they not only survived, but they flourished. They discovered that life goes on, always; that there are beautiful people and experiences waiting for them, even though they believed this could never happen. They fell in love again. They discovered their true calling. They received valuable spiritual insights.
Some people take huge risks to change their lives in order to find what they have been seeking for so long. They may walk away from lucrative jobs to work with society's forgotten, or they may leave their traditional churches to explore a broader concept of spirituality. Others stay, but change their attitude towards life and the people around them in a quiet, but profound way. Ultimately, crisis brings us closer to our hearts.
The price to pay is often loss, pain, loneliness, and chaos; but if we work our way through the hurt and disorientation, there is a tremendous reward waiting for us: knowing that we truly are who we are meant to be. There is no substitute for that - not money, not fame, not social acceptance, not power. Nothing.
Frequently we get swallowed by crisis like a rabbit by a big, bad snake. We totally identify with the drama that is taking place, unable to control our strong negative emotions. There is a perception of doom, and panic yells in our ears that there is no way out. If this is the case, the following exercises will help to detach and let go.
EXERCISE 1: TAKE A STEP BACK
Get comfortable. Relax. Breathe. Relax. Breathe. That's better. When you are ready, imagine you are standing in front of a huge, framed painting, like one of those that hang in a museum. This picture portrays your current situation.
You notice that you are standing very close to the picture; in fact, your nose is almost touching the canvas. Your view is quite distorted. You probably see blobs of color, some lines that don´t make any sense.
Now take a step back. Another step. Continue walking backwards until you have a good view of the whole picture from a distance. What do you see?
Be open for this broader view on your current, troubling situation.
It is possible that you don't see a painting at all. It may transform into action; there may be sounds, smells, memories, changing emotions, sudden insights, a "knowing" - or soothing silence.
Write down what you experienced.
EXERCISE 2: GIVE ADVICE
For this exercise you do not have to go into deep relaxation - a little daydreaming, for example while you are taking a walk, will do.
Imagine you are having a conversation with a very good friend, somebody you care about a lot. This can be a real person, or somebody you make up for the occasion.
When you know who you are talking to, assume that your friend, not you, is experiencing the crisis you are currently going through. Let her (him) tell you exactly what the problem is, as if you are hearing it for the first time. Now the friend is asking you: "What should I do about this situation? Any advice?"
Counsel your friend to the best of your abilities. You will be surprised how much you have to say. Note the advice you gave.
If you would like to play a more active role in dealing with your crisis, try the following visualizations:
EXERCISE 3: MOVE IT
In deep relaxation, imagine sitting in a dark movie theatre. This is your private screening; nobody else is present. Have a drink and some popcorn, it is going to be a bumpy ride. What you are watching is THE MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE, on a mega-screen, with surround sound and lots of special effects. You are the leading lady/the leading man. This movie has been running for some time.
Right now you are seeing an intense sequence of scenes. There could be some heart wrenching action with a lot of yelling and crying. There could be slow motion in bleak colors with melting clocks and threatening shadows looming...whatever depicts your personal crisis best.
Look in front of you. There are four big buttons. Press the PAUSE button. It will freeze-frame the movie. Now you have a choice. Would you like to know more about how this crisis developed? Then press the REWIND button. The movie of your life will take you into the past. At any time press the PLAY button to restart the movie. It will now show you scenes that took place before the crisis.
What do you see? How do you react to it?
If you would like to know what is going to happen in the future, press the FAST FORWARD button, then PLAY. You are now in a time when your crisis is behind you.
What do you see? Has the situation changed for the better? Do you get any insights about how that happened, what steps you took? If the situation has changed for the worse, do you get any hints about what to avoid to create this unpleasant future? Write down what you experienced.
EXERCISE 4: STAGE IT
If you would like to play an even more active role, try the following:
Go into deep relaxation and imagine yourself seated in a theatre, observing the stage. You are the author, director and producer of a play that is in the middle of a rehearsal. While the action is taking place, you are sitting in the auditorium, watching. Of course, this is THE PLAY OF YOUR LIFE, and you are seeing yourself as the star. The scene when your crisis takes place is just beginning.
What do you see?
Now you, as the author, director and producer, jump up, quite disgusted by what is going on. You hop onto the stage, start talking to your actors, and rearrange them physically. You might tell the star that her/his acting is pathetic (you are not a very diplomatic director), and point out that the stuff everybody is playing out is NOT what is in the script. Continue correcting the scene until you are satisfied, that is, until you find a better, more spiritually evolved way to "act out" your crisis. (For example, tell an actor to listen instead of yelling.)
Thank the star and the other players for their efforts. You know that this production will be a huge success. Write down what you experienced.