I remember the first time I began to let the walls around my heart down. I was in a yoga class, struggling to get myself into dancer pose.
I had locked my left knee firmly into place, foot planted firmly on the ground. My right leg was up in the air, arching behind my back, toes peeking out above my head from behind. My left arm was stretching out in front of me. And I was wobbly.
Why was I so wobbly?
“Lead with your heart, not your head.” My yoga teacher told the class as we all fell out of the pose and worked relentlessly to get ourselves back in.
“When you lead with your heart, your chest sticks out, strong and sure, your head is up, not jutting out. And you will find your balance.
Every single time you lead with your heart, you will find your balance.” She breathed to us as she weaved her way in between her students’ mats.
It was, and still is, the perfect metaphor for life.
The Fourth Chakra: The Heart
The heart chakra is the fourth chakra, whether you count up from the root chakra or down from the crown chakra. It is your center. It is the seat of your balance. Your heart is, in a word, you. It is the essence of who you are.
Zen master Eckhart Tolle says of this matter of who you are:
“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not “the thinker.” The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken... the moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.”
You are not your mind. You are not your thoughts. You are not your fears. You are love, compassion, joy, peace. Those things are both within and beyond humanity. They are our connection to the divine. You are at your best when you are leading with your heart, where all of those things are deeply rooted and always reaching out.
The heart chakra is the seat of love and joy. The universe is the purest and most infinite source of love and joy. When you can open your heart chakra and let it guide you, you are in your fullest divinity as a human that you can be.
You Are Not Your Mind
To be clear, leading with your heart does not mean abandoning your mind. It does not mean to abandon thoughts or ignore them entirely. The highest and most respected spiritual teachers, from Jesus to Buddha to Eckhart Tolle will tell you that you are both human and divine.
The goal is not to escape from our humanity.
Enlightenment is not all love and light and “positive vibes only.”
It is contending with the human experience. It is sitting in the human experience.
But it is sitting in the human experience gently.
It is contending with the human experience lightly.
When you stop identifying with your mind, recognizing that it is merely a part of your humanity and not everything you are, that it is, really, your ego that is in your head creating many of your damaging thoughts, then you can be gentle with yourself and your experiences.
You are not your mind.
You Are Your Heart
The closest you can come to knowing your divine self, and the source of your divinity, is to open your heart.
God, the universe, source, call it what you will, is all love and compassion, all affection and joy. It is always communicating with you, guiding you, leading you toward your desires.
You came here to this human experience to expand greater consciousness and to have the human experience. Your heart is your reminder of the joy from which you come and the joy to which you will return.
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But It Hurts!
Yes, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. The trouble with joy is that its flipside is pain. The trouble with light is that the flipside is dark.
And you simply cannot, no matter who tries to convince you, avoid all darkness, all pain, all hurt. It is part of the human experience.
Why have the human experience if divinity is all joy and love and light and humanity includes hurt and pain and darkness?
There is a great Jewish proverb that deals with this issue. It comes in the form of a series of questions that includes this following:
If God is all seeing, all knowing, and all powerful, then why create humans? Why, essentially, become human, as the thought is that God pours Himself into each human He creates? Each human is a drop of the ocean that is God.
If God is all seeing, all knowing, and all powerful, then what is missing?
The human experience is about contending with our limitations for the purpose of expansion. We, in our divinity, have much to learn and gain from working with our limitations.
We do this best when we can keep our hearts open.
Closing our hearts, seeking escape, pushing through life with only our minds, with walls up around our hearts, is denying ourselves the full experience. When we block pain, we block joy. When we refuse to look into the darkness, we block the light.
We must keep our hearts open, have compassion for ourselves and others, and find the joy even in the darkness.
As the great Martin Luther King, Jr. Says:
We are at our best when we lead with our hearts.
4 Fourth Chakra Stones: Open Your Heart
How do you do that? How do you lead with your heart?
When you feel yourself clenching, tightening, blocking, triggered, turning to anger, frustration, sadness, get curious.
And sit with your feelings. Don’t block them.
To remind you to keep your heart open, to help you heal a broken heart, sitting with the pain, to help you soften towards someone has hurt you, you can keep fourth chakra stones near you.
Carry them in your pocket, wear one around your neck, have them on your altar while you meditate. Stones serve as powerful, tangible reminders of who we are and of who we want to be.
Commonly thought of as the master of pink crystals, rose quartz is the love stone. It reminds you to be soft, to go lightly, to be gentle, and to let love in. When you are meditating on letting go and stepping into flow with love, rose quarts is a great stone to wear on your person throughout the day.
With touches of red and black in this pink stone, rhodonite is a high vibrating strengthening stone. It is great for establishing firm boundaries in your love. You’ve heard the expression “do no harm but take no shit?” This stone is great for that. Remember, love does not mean weak. You can be deeply loving and still hold a boundary that prevents people from abusing or using you. If you’re working on this aspect of love, keep rhodonite with you.
Back to the balance you find in love, green aventurine is a strong stable love stone. A green stone that helps your heart heal while holding strong boundaries, that allows you to keep loving while working on overcoming hurts. It is also great for the awakening and new birth of springtime. Opening yourself up for what’s to come this year.
Perfect for March and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, green jade is lucky in love. It is the symbol for a bright and cheery life in love. Remember you deserve more, you are worthy of love, and that you can see love in all of its forms as it comes to you. The more you celebrate it, the more will come.
Remember Love Does Not Mean Weak
A final note of your heart chakra: love is not a weakness. We are surrounded in this day and age by people who insist they are just too loving and that’s why they get abused, that’s why they get used, that’s why they attract narcissists.
A person who is deeply centered in their heart chakra can have compassion for their abuser, and establish firm boundaries that perhaps mean never seeing that abuser again. Perhaps it means putting their abuser in jail.
True love and a strong heart chakra mean loving yourself first. I always like to remind people to think of the person they love most in the world. Now, would you let that person be abused, used, hurt repeatedly, beat up, abandoned, tossed aside.
No. You would not. You would fiercely defend them.
Now, do that for yourself.