Following the heart
As my teacher Todd Norian often says: “it takes courage to follow your heart.” I love that the word for heart in French, “Coeur,” is the root for the English word courage. Another French saying is: “The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.” It definitely takes courage to dare following a strong, personal intuition or desire in spite of normative or mind-driven oppositions. But doing exactly this, following your “heart” (you might as well call it inner feeling, intuition, gut feeling or something else…), is at the essence of courage.
You probably can relate to a moment in your life when you clearly feel that your heart wanted something else than your mind. Something felt sensible to do, but your heart clearly called for the opposite. About four years ago I started to admit to myself how badly I was longing to involve my interpersonal, so called “soft skills” into my work. Yet it took me another two years to actually make the career shift, and slightly more than another year to dare calling myself a “yoga teacher.” And it will probably take me another couple of years to completely embrace my passion for personal transformation.
The last week has been remarkable. Not just because of amazing weather here in Copenhagen, but also thanks to some great classes and events I had the privilege to facilitate, among others a heart-focus class at Tisvilde Yoga Festival. I truly experienced the yogis’ longing for getting into their hearts and feeling their own depths. I realized that being in our hearts, even for a moment, brings us to a place of serenity and spaciousness, where it becomes possible to open to new possibilities and perspectives.
Dr. Douglas Brooks said something along the lines of: “Life is meaningless until you give it a meaning.” Although a little provoking for me at first, this sentence made me realize that we truly can shift our reality; it is up to us to shift our perspectives, and then life changes. My experience working with my own, students’ and clients’ hearts, so to speak, through teaching, studies, coaching, healing etc. helped me see how our willingness to be vulnerable and open (other words for being in our hearts) can bring us to a place where we can find the courage to show up, shift our reality, and eventually be in integrity with what is meaningful and dear to our heart.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my co-working space Greencubator and put my lunch box in the fridge. Around noon, I went back to the fridge and could see that my little bag had been moved around… and – big deal – I could not find my avocado! I was pretty hungry and started to look for this avocado all over the fridge… I started to become grumpy and irritated at the persons who had moved my bag and tell myself negative stories about my colleagues, how uncareful and unorganized they were, etc… After some time, I finally paused and realized how much drama I was completely making up in my little head!
It came up to me that I could choose to either stay in this negative drama, completely unverified and my own, or shift into letting go, keeping my heart open and going to the produce shop literally downstairs to buy a couple of avocados. I went to the shop, picked two avocados and, at the cashier, the vendor immediately invited me to come eat with him and his “guys” at the back of the room. Puzzled and surprised, I just followed him to the end of the room where 3 men were sharing a simple, improvised, and quite abundant buffet on top of a large freezer. The guy asked me: “Do you like chili?” And still very surprised I just managed to drop a timid “Yes”. In no time, he handed me a pita bread full of different fillings and toppings. I asked: “What can I give you? At least for the avocados?” He answered: “Nothing. You’re good. Have a nice day!” I thanked him at least two or three times and left the shop completely speechless, delighted, and so amused by this play or Lila of the universe! 10 min before, I was grumpy about a missing avocado, and now I had 2 and a sandwich handed by a very friendly guy… for free!
Do I make it harder for myself?
This trivial anecdote really opened my eyes on how my perspective shapes my world – and how I can make it harder for myself. If I am going through a busy week and keep telling myself I’m so busy, then I live from this pressured spot. If I instead simply ride the wave of my week, enjoy each class, but prioritize more time off in-between, I know I will rest when I can and nothing is a big deal anymore. Actually, a new set of opportunities and abundance might very well open for me.
Please understand me correctly here. I am not advocating for anyone to dismiss possible state of busy-ness and overwhelm but, on the contrary, to listen to the body’s signals more carefully. Rather, the focus here is to become aware of the internal stories played out by our mind can make our lives even more difficult. And we can change those stories.
You can probably recognize being in a yoga class and thinking “Gosh, this is a hard pose!” or “why can’t I do this one?”… Here I invite you to reflect on whether saying this to yourself is actually helpful and supportive, or detrimental. To put it simply, if we judge something difficult and take a break, step out for a minute, then we support ourselves. If we keep going and telling ourselves life is difficult, we might just experience things are even less bearable.
It certainly takes a lot of courage to admit something is hard and then pause or pull the brakes, and to shift our attitude to a world where other, unthought-of possibilities exist. Yoga can help us cultivate the necessary courage to embrace what presents itself in front of us as a new opportunity to grow and get to know our heart better. The purpose of yoga is to recognize that life is to be lived from a place of abundance.
Let’s be courageous together!
I hope you’ll join me in the next few weeks and months for some exciting yoga events: a retreat in Sweden, a Deepen Your Practice workshop , and some of my regular classes at Pakhus Yoga, Hamsa Studio, and the cosy UpDogYoga. … or maybe an outdoor class 😉?
Whether I see you or not, I wish you a great, deeply nourishing, and courageous summer!
With love and blessings of heart courage,