The Heart

heart yoga backbends

At the heart of yoga is… yes, you guessed. The Heart.

The Heart (capital H) was described by ancient sages millennia ago as humans’ center of wisdom, inner intelligence, and deep fulfilment.

Over the years, through language and diverse societal evolutions, in the west we have come to define the heart – beyond our vital, physical organ – primarily as a metaphor for either our relational attachment to a romantic partner (“my heart is broken” or “my heart is (yet to be) taken”) or a virtue of generally agreed goodness towards others (“she has a good heart”, “he is putting is whole heart in it”, etc.). And so I had until I met yoga and nondual teachings a dozen of years ago.

In nondual eastern traditions (such as the nondual Shiva Tantra, which I have studied a little), the Heart describes the seat of the Atman, the meeting of Shiva and Shakti, or the ultimate experience of oneness that lies under everything. Naturally, if it is the first time you read something like it you might turn away or be confused. I won’t blame you. Indeed, it took me a couple of years of first hearing, then listening, and then practicing with these teachings in the background before it finally hit a chord in me.

In these traditions, the Heart only takes its full meaning with a sustained practice supervised by some type of guide or teacher who knows and, more particularly, embodies what they talk about. The Heart in fact is an experience of exiting the usual way of thinking, relating, and acting in the world, with others and with ourselves.

Especially when we experience the opening to our own heart, the magic begins. We reconnect to the inner place of stillness and wisdom that has been there all along. A new level of connection to each being and each thing around us starts to come online and, more or less dramatically and certainly not in a linear way, shifts our way of living our lives forever. This process is what we could call a “Heart Awakening;” or our touching back with the essential, undefended, and interconnected part of us; what the sages called the rediscovery of our true nature and the nondual essence of things. The awakening of the Heart is a lifelong journey, and the journey itself becomes the destination.

When I was thinking about becoming a self-employed teacher and coach in the realm of self-growth and change careers, back in 2016, I was deeply immersed into my own heart’s exploration. I had practiced yoga, meditation, and many (many) healing and self-growth modalities in a pursuit of meeting “my Self”, knowing the Heart that lived in me, and generally live my life more authentically and freely. I remember sitting at a café in Berkeley, California, where I lived at that time, writing about my business ideas and visions. Suddenly, a name for my business popped up in my mind: Heart-Wise. It all made sense. The Heart indeed had become the very core of not only what I wanted to find in my own life, but also what I was missing to share with others in my then job. Wisdom was another essential aspect of what I ultimately aspired to: Help others reawaken to their innate wisdom that has been right here, in the Heart, all along. In addition, the mind of the academic I was at the time liked the play on words 😉: if one discovers the Heart, the potential experience of expansion is endless and can become a new way to apprehend everything in life, thus “heartwise.”

Listening to your Heart does not need to be postponed and can even start right now. Simply ask yourself about a current challenge: “What will my Heart do or say in such situation?”

In sum, central to yoga, at least the types of practice I like doing and sharing, is the Heart. What the experience feels like and brings remains for you to discover and, despite all my efforts, remain hard to put into words.

If not a practice, perhaps the poetic interpretation of the Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche can touch you in the Heart…

There is a place in the heart where everything meets. Go there if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity, all are there.
Are you there?
Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Give yourself to it with total abandon . . .
Once you know the way
the nature of attention will call you
to return, again and again,
and be saturated with knowing,
‘I belong here, I am at home here.”

From my heart to yours,



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