By Cathy Keenan
Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub…ahhhh…the precious sound of the Empress/Emperor who sits majestically on the thrown in the centre of our chest. According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the Heart is likened to the ruler of a kingdom. It is the central organizing principal of a person’s being. I have come to have an enormous respect for the heart after having experienced heart failure a few days after giving birth to my beautiful son. Weeks in the hospital facing uncertainty over my life made me value the incredible job this organ performs every second of our precious life.
In many cultures the heart has long been a symbol representing love, togetherness, affection and the source of our emotions, courage and wisdom. It is also called ‘heartmind’ because the heart is considered closely related to our mental and emotional life.The eyes are considered the sprouts of the Heart reflecting our spirit and impulse to live and the tongue is the off shot of the heart reflected in the words we use to communicate.
Lao Tsu (Taoist philosopher) explains that it is the emptiness of the cup that renders it useful. It is believed that the emptiness at the center of our heart is the space where our spirit/consciousness resides. This is not so far fetched when you think that the heart is the one organ most effected by immediate changes to the emotional climate of our body. When we are happy, stressed, anxious or angry our heart beats differently. Modern medicine is just beginning to recognize that the heart is more than just a pump but that it is a highly complex processing centre with its own ‘brain’. Negative emotions affect our hearts rhythm and has a direct effect on our nervous system. According to The World Health Organization depression and heart disease are fast becoming the leading cause of disability and death worldwide. As a society we must be willing to live more from our hearts and less from our minds to evolve this planet into the peaceful loving place we want it to be.
In TCM the Heart is paired with the Small Intestine, associated with the season of summer and related to the element of Fire. Fire relates to the sun, light, warmth and heat. Fire ignites all of life. Summer is the season of abundance, when things come into maturity and life is in full bloom. The emotion associated with this time of year is joy and joy is the will of life.
The heart sets our rhythm in life. When we are resistant to the movement of life we may experience feelings of emptiness and sadness. We can’t have a raging continuous fire nor can we have a flame that is near extinction, we need the flickering movement of flames to allow us to respond appropriately to the demands of living. The fire energy inside sparks us to come alive, to be open and to feel abundance. This flame allows us to become conscious of ourselves and others, to express love and gratitude and to become awake in our lives. This tiny spark of divine love residing in our hearts is what radiates out into the world as the light of our individual awareness.
In our (yin) yoga practice this month try smiling from your heart. It is said to have profound physiological effects that help promote the flow of qi (energy) and blood in our bodies. Explore more back bends to help open the chest so that you can walk through life with an open heart that beams its bright light forward guiding you on your way. Notice thoughts, activities, people, food…and how they affect your hearts rhythm and make you feel. Stay focused on what you believe to be important in your life and in your practice. Try laughter yoga and notice how joy feels in your body. The next time you bring your hands to ‘Namaste’ in front of your heart, acknowledge that divine spark that exists in all beings and practice dedicating the merits of your practice to the well being of others.Afterall if our practice in life isn’t about love, then what are we working towards?
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