I recently treated myself to a copy of Pia Jane Bijkerk’s My Heart Wanders. It’s an absolute beauty of a book that tells the story of following her heart, allowing it to lead her across the world, following wherever it leads and listening to its wisdom.
As I was reading, I wondered, when was the last time I listened to my heart?
And a little voice from the middle of my chest said, “Well. It’s been a while…”
I wondered what would happen if I started listening. Where would it lead me? What wisdom would it like to share?
As much as I haven’t ever bothered to follow the path laid out for me by others, it hasn’t always been my heart I’ve been following.
I think it’s usually my brain. And while I have honoured the quirkiness of its wiring, I’ve maybe given it a little too much power in my life.
I feel easier and more expansive, just opening up the possibility of listening more to my heart, which tells me I’ve been ignoring it for a very long time. I’m picturing that space, that tenderness in the centre of my chest with the rest of myself gathered behind it, waiting to see where it leads.
How do I know whether an impulse comes from my head or my heart?
My head is in a hurry. It’s impatient. It wants to be sure. When my head is in charge, I feel pressured. I need to finish my projects and sell them. My head needs to achieve, to have a finished product to display, to cross items off a list.
My heart likes to take things slow. It’s patient. It trusts the process – whatever process I’m immersed in. There’s no pressure when I’m following my heart. I get to play, to make a mess with no tangible result.
My head is all about the finished product while my heart loves the process.
If I’m feeling pressured, it’s coming from my head and is a sign for me to step back and say, “Heart! What do you suggest?”
And the answer is usually, “Slow down. Calm down. Let this unfold.”
My head is good at solving problems. It loves a good puzzle. How can I make this work? How better to do that? I’ll ask it those questions and it will happily offer up possible solutions, which must then be presented to the committee of the heart. And if the heart says no, then other solutions need to be explored.
So when did I stop listening to my heart?
It was when I believed it was broken. When my sister died, and my parents, too. I thought my heart was broken and I stopped listening to its wisdom because I couldn’t stand the hurt.
But my heart isn’t broken. My heart was never broken. To say, “My heart is broken” doesn’t give credit for my heart’s strength, flexibility, resilience.
My heart is strong and wise.
We don’t trust a broken watch to tell us the time. If a compass is broken, we don’t use it to find our way home.
To say your heart is broken is to lose faith in a key part of your wisdom. It betrays us at our deepest level.
Life may make us unbearably sad. Grief comes to all of us. We lose the people we love, and it hurts. But that doesn’t make our hearts broken. Our hearts remain whole through it all. And trustworthy.
The next time you’re feeling stressed and under pressure, try asking, “Heart! What should I do?” Then get quiet and listen for the answer.
And please let me know how it turns out.
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