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Head Vs. Heart

I had one of those “Ah-HA!” moments in my morning meditation last week. At one point I could physically sense the difference between ‘being in my head’ and ‘being in my heart.’ The transition was palpable. Something that had been a high concept esoteric principle became very real for me. It’s always difficult to accurately portray a subtle body experience. After all, the most sublime sensations and experiences can rarely be encapsulated into words. At least that has been my reality.

It seems there are two very different ways of seeing and experiencing this world, each with their benefits, each with their drawback. We can perceive the world through the lens of the heart or the head. We also have a choice in the matter.

What I’ve come to realize however, is the heart is not limited, where the head is. The heart has unlimited capacity for love – for forgiveness and compassion. Our heads will try to rationalize all of the reasons these things should be withheld. Our heads will say things like:

It’s not fair.

They don’t deserve it.

What about me?

He/She/ can’t get away with that.

It’s not right.

The heart has no need for right and wrong because from the heart’s point of view, there is no difference. Only in the head do we separate the two. And only in the head does separateness exist at all.

I believe some of us are more inclined to operate in a certain mode over another. You either love working on a MacBook or a PC. One feels inherently intuitive, the other, rather clumsy. Some cannot fathom life without rationality, pro and con lists, and a careful scrutiny of all the options. Others find it painful to ignore the loud whispers from the heart.

Like many, I was trained to lead from my head and I’ve become quite adept operating in the world this way. However, I believe I was born to lead from the heart.

It feels so damn good to be out of my head and in my heart. When I get there in meditation or even in the daily activity of life, I don’t want to leave. It doesn’t feel as good to operate in my head anymore – all the figuring out and thinking and analyzing and trying to make sense of it all – but old habits die hard. It’s a consistent practice for me right now to drop down from top to center.

At one point, I needed all the head skills. But my mind keeps me small and limited. Thus the term small – minded. Not that a particular way of thinking is small, but primarily using the mind as a source of guidance can trap us in a box. It’s restrictive. We are so much more than our heads. There is so much more we are capable of beyond the space of the mind.

I would, however, like to say thank you to my head. Thank you for keeping me safe. For helping me grasp concepts and knowledge. For teaching me how to remember so I don’t have to re-learn things every day like how to talk, write, walk, etc. You have your purpose. But you will no longer guide my ship. I trust my heart more than my head. More and more every day. And the more I practice it, the more tangible it becomes. I can feel a difference in my body as opposed to having it be some out there woo-hoo spiritual teaching. I literally feel more expansive, supported and just, well – GOOD. It’s me. There I am. The person I was meant to be.

Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

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