More Heart, Less Head

The other day I was mediating and this popped into my awareness: More heart, less head.

bleeding heart flowers
Image by Muffet

The dance between mind and heart can be a tricky one. Often, emotions are reactions to thoughts whether we are conscious of them or not. Yet, our minds can also railroad us into avoiding our emotions and closing down our hearts. It can be a chicken and egg thing trying to determine which came first with no tangible answer in sight.

The question for me is: When is my mind limiting my perspective as a means to justify suffering and a desire for clearer boundaries? It can be all too easy to frame things in a manner that suggests we “have no choice.” There is always choice. When we are trying to live up to some standard we’ve created or taken on, it can be easy to trick ourselves into feeling that there are no alternatives. But, underneath that kind of behavior and thinking is fear and the accompanying pain. Suffering results even though we may not recognize the path we’re on.

If I find myself in a thought process that is reminding me that my choices are “valid” and necessary for self-respect, I now know that is an illusion. Usually, it’s not my actual behavior that needs justification. It’s the underlying fear and lack of trust, self-confidence, and value that I’m seeking to avoid. I am reminded once again of the many faces of Mara and how I am tricking myself into blocking my awareness from alternative perspectives. I think the point is to expand not necessarily change or delete a viewpoint. In other words, I try to create space for my awareness to evolve.

green sea at "the Door"
Image by Linda Cronin

As I try to let go and expand my perspective, I realize that true boundaries come from an open heart. Compassion is a boundary. When we are in our head too much, we can make it even more challenging to differentiate our energy from another’s. If I am defending against my feelings and justifying my thoughts and behaviors, then I am giving control to my ego self. When I am centered in compassion, empathy, and equanimity, I am balancing ego and soul. I am more aware of my own energy verses another’s. For me, this is the ultimate boundary. Hopefully, respectful, healthy, and kinder behavior will follow.

There are those who think that the intellect is superior to feelings and emotions. If there isn’t some kind of empirical data that satisfies their way of thinking, then it (whatever “it” is) must not be valid. Maybe it is a new way of thinking, idea, or perspective, or maybe it is our or another’s pain and suffering that we are trying to ignore by explaining it away, or compartmentalizing and denying it. Regardless, if we place more value on our thoughts than our feelings, imbalance will result and healing will be stunted. In the end, it’s just another form of aversion, diversion, and running away from our own selves.

I’m not suggesting that we push our intellects aside and let our emotions dictate our reality. Our minds can be powerful allies to the healing process. It’s also important to remember that they can also be our worst enemy. Ultimately, it’s our hearts that can guide us to our souls and spirits. If left to stand on its own, all the information and intelligence in the world would fall flat.

It is my desire to continue to heal myself and my life. In an effort to not contribute to the pain and suffering of another, I try to balance my heart and mind with my soul and body. I try not to project my suffering onto others. I don’t always succeed, and it can be especially challenging when others are projecting their suffering onto me. Regardless, I will try and continue to expand my mind and my heart.

Ultimately, I know that my mind can only be as open as my heart. Frequently, that can mean more heart, less mind.

© Sallie Odenthal 2012

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