Do you ever feel like your heart's about to burst, dear reader, and that the only one who knows it is you?
Last Easter weekend I visited a friend and her family outside the city. I hadn't seen my friend since she'd been through some pretty tough relationship stuff. We talked about how our heart ACTUALLY hurts when we're heartbroken, and that it's not just a metaphor. The two of us exchanged stories of our recent heartbreaks, and about how the area around our hearts felt to us.
It's sore and achy like it's bruised, I said to her.
YES, she replied. That's exactly how mine feels, too!
So there we were standing in her hallway, her dog looking up at me gooey eyed because I had food in my bag. And she began doing some sound work on me using crystal bowls. I hadn't even taken my coat off yet! The vibrations of the bowls singing were really calming and I remember thinking, gee, I could listen to them all day and just float away.
Writing has a similar effect on me, dear reader. When I'm feeling sad and achy in my heart I often write my thoughts down as they're arising.
I've read articles on how writing helps your brain, causing different areas of the brain to work together. On a scanner, our neural pathways look similar to when a person plays music or sports.
Yet what about your heart on writing?
I often turn to writing when my heart feels like it's on its last legs. Writing helps me to understand what I'm feeling and to see the shape of my emotions. It grounds me in the present and allows me to recognize anger and sadness as feelings ebbing and flowing like waves on a beach. It also allows me to feel these feelings, instead of pushing them away.
The fourth chakra, called anahata, is located at the heart. The Sanskrit translation of " anahata " is "unhurt, unstuck, or unbeaten." This chakra is associated with unconditional love, compassion, and joy. Anahata connects the lower and upper chakras and affects the heart, lungs, chest, arms, and hands. A misaligned heart chakra can lead to high or low blood pressure and other heart and lung conditions. Other issues related to a heart chakra imbalance are co-dependence, feelings of unworthiness and the inability to trust yourself or others.
The following is a meditation that you can do to check in with your heart. This audio meditation will also prepare you for the heart-centred writing exercise after it.
Remember that big, bold organ in your chest that pumps blood into your body to give you life? According to ancient Indian tradition, it is also the centre of unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. Find a comfortable place either on a chair or on a cushion on the floor. Close your eyes and shift your awareness from your mind down to your heart.
Take your right hand and place it on the left side of your chest as you breathe deeply into this area—maintaining your awareness of the in and out breath. Acknowledge and accept any feelings you are experiencing at this moment. Do this for a good five minutes all the while shifting your attention from your thoughts of uncertainty to your heart.
Imagine that your heart is a room (it does, in fact, have four chambers) that you can enter to feel safe, secure and loved unconditionally. There are no judgements in this room, no criticisms and no self-sabotage. The room protects you from all this and allows you to be yourself, to make mistakes and to explore your creativity without limits. Keep breathing as you enter this room, feel your worry melt away and begin to relax into your sacred writing space.
WRITING EXERCISE FOR THE HEART
Go to the place where you typically write—your writing space. Or, to a cafe or park if that makes more sense for quiet writing time. Make sure you're comfortable and that your back's well supported. Meditation teaches staying with what you're doing and trying not to let your thoughts get ahead of you. With this writing exercise, you'll focus on describing sensations you're experiencing near your heart. You may choose to do this in two or three paragraphs, or you may decide to write a longer narrative in the form of a story. Try not to judge what you're writing. Just record your thoughts and sensations as they come up.
As you begin to type or write longhand, notice when your mind shifts away from the present moment and make this part of your narrative. Record the first things you sense about your heart. Do you feel a tightness or an opening? Can you determine the shape of the sensation at this spot in your body? Write about how this feels without worrying about what your writing looks like. Record any emotions that come up and use these emotions as a springboard for your writing.
Once you feel that you're done, then put down your pen or laptop, take a deep breath and smile into the area of your heart. Imagine that your heart's smiling back at you.
Congratulations on completing this writing exercise!!
I'd love to hear how this meditation and exercise were for you. You can let me know by sending me a message through my contact form.
Photo by Eye for Ebony.