“Heartful awareness invites us into active engagement with those emotional states, which, by their very definition, are life-generating, expansive and stabilizing.” From Mindfulness to Heartfulness by Alane Daugherty
I love to travel and traveling on planes scares me. My heart rate increases. My body freezes becoming rigid and lacking feeling. Recently, I flew to California by myself for a week of intensives at Claremont School of Theology. I only fly by myself once a year, so I don’t get enough practice for this experience to become routine. As I was sitting on the plane noticing my heart, body and mind go into autopilot (see what I did there?!) reacting the way I always react on a plane, I looked over and saw a grandfather reach behind him to squeeze the ankle of his granddaughter who sat behind him and beside her mother. This simple gesture caused a noticeable shift in energy for me.
At first, I dismissed it and looked away feeling that I had no right to see that intimate moment. Then, I quickly returned my gaze allowing myself the opportunity to absorb the feelings that I experienced. What I noticed is that beautiful bonding sensation you get when you hold a baby, that warm feeling when you look at two lovers engaging in conversation that involves intimate eye contact, and that sense of calm like a fuzzy blanket was just placed on your shoulders. My heart rate slowed, my breath lengthened in the inhale and exhale, and I experienced the love shared between the grandfather and granddaughter as an energy in this world that I can tap into.
My fear and anxiety melted away as I closed my eyes and thought of all the people at home who love me, the people waiting to see me in California who love me, and the love that God has for me. This experience is how mindfulness of what is happening in the present moment can be more fully developed in heartfulness. Dr. Daugherty writes that we need three things for heartfulness to flourish. 1- It must be authentic. We cannot force ourselves to feel something. What we can do is be mindful of what is going on in the present moment, honor how we are feeling, and welcome life-giving energy. 2- We must be intentional in our practice of heartfulness. It takes intentionality and practice to develop this skill. Our job is to look for opportunities throughout the day or set aside time to experience love and care for ourselves. 3- Take little moments throughout the day to connect to life giving energies. Maybe a morning walk to ingest all the beauty the world has to offer. Maybe a mid-day gratitude session exploring people, experiences and places that feelings of gratitude flow easily. Don’t forget to cultivate feelings of gratitude for who you are and all that you do! Then, sit and absorb how you feel in body, mind and spirit when you are working with the beautiful energy of gratitude.
Mindfulness practices feel more complete when we experience heartfulness.
May you tap into this healing energy.