This phrase “soft heart, strong back” reminds me of how I aspire to be. Its a vison of communicating needs effectively without given into the social norms of doing more when its time to slow down and reconnect. In fact, research shows that productivity increases when real down time scheduled in.
Connected to the Heart
We live in a time of pushing through. Our culture encourages us to work more, sleep less and consume more. The consequences are that we end up trading in a meaningful life and shutting down our vitality. Damn.
Slowing down and connected to the body through meditation on a daily basis has a powerful cumulative effect. I’ll describe how to do it and why it works.
Concepts that Keep Us Stuck
We all have a map of reality. Its made up of concepts. For instance, what the word “healthy” means is a just a concept. Unless we take a look at this we can live our lives stuck in an old idea. These concepts have very little to do what we actually experience about our health or our body.
How is your experience of feeling healthy different than what you think about it?
What does your body feel like versus what you think you look like?
Mindfulness Transforms Concepts
Meditation offers an important way of looking at and feeling our life from the inside. This experience of our life is very different than how it looks from the outside.
To illustrate this, I’ll share a short story. I was engaged with a man who was very charming. He was well liked in his profession and in my community. I say ‘my community’ because after awhile I began to realize he had very few close friends of his own. Inwardly he experienced a lot of anxiety, insecurity and even panic attacks. He spent a lot of time putting on his outward appearance for work or social events. It was exhausting and literally consumed him.
Our life looked great from the outside but on the inside it was unbearable. I was living with a man who was not well and wouldn’t get help but somehow continued to function outwardly.
the Map versus the Territory
We can call our experience of reality, the territory. In contrast the map is what we think about reality. In my story the map was the idea of having a happy home, satisfying careers, hobbies and good friends. It has a strong allure, doesn’t it?
The territory was that I was living with a person who was not functioning and instead chose to control, threaten and depend on me for everything. Sadly this story is very common. There are many who struggle in similar circumstances.
Connecting with our actual experience is liberating. It can be enlivening and very joyful. For instance, the body is where we access intuition, relaxation and a wide array of sensations. A daily meditation practice creates room to experience and explore the true territory of our life. Here are 4 steps for connecting with your body and heart.
- Find a comfortable position either sitting or laying down.
- Place your hands on your lower belly or chest depending on what feels right for you today.
- Put your awareness into your body. Notice sensation in your feet, sacrum, mid-back, elbows, shoulders & head.
- Take all of it in and notice how your body naturally relaxes when we are receptive and listening.
- Spend some time resting in the heart. Notice what is there without judging.
Being human is messy. We need a soft heart and a strong back so we can honour our experience rather than live in a map that isn’t really ours.
A deeper knowing emerges when we give ourselves time to reconnect with the real territory of our lives.. You may notice the map has taken over when you hear the same story over and over. It can be in our head or something we share with others. This story usually has little to do with what is actually happenng. It causes tremendous suffering as we relive painful events.
A mindfulness practice helps us see this. What’s more is that meditation allows us to let go of trauma stored in the body without needing to tell the story or understand the map. Simply by connecting with our bodies, hearts and the real territory of our lives, we can heal.