Opening the Heart - Part 1
Alexander McDonell in conversation with Shannah White
What Does Opening The Heart Mean?
Opening the heart means to open the heart chakra by quieting the noise in the mind and allowing your awareness to shift/descend into a feeling space. When you go deep into that feeling space you meet a warm loving energy.
People that have been guided to this experience describe it as coming through the chest. This energy fundamentally changes how we feel inside, there is a natural peace, clarity, and we are more comfortable with ourselves.
In the world and in our relationships there is so much pushing and pulling of what we think we need but that all goes away when we feel this energy. The question of self worth goes away because you feel so good.
Unconditional love means holding that space no matter what the conditions are. This is a challenging goal because things happen in life that distract us like a chirping cricket.
When you let go of things you can't control, let go of thinking and just breathe then you descend into feeling sensitivity then at a deeper level you connect with love energy again.
This is similar to what Eckhart Tolle talks about in his book The Power of Now which he describes as a Feeling of bliss.
How Do I Let Go Of Powerful Intrusive Negative Thoughts?
Its not easy to quieten the mind, it requires a lot of focus, concentration and practice. Even after a lot of meditation the pattern of negative thoughts still creep in.
By focusing on the breath for 10 to 15 minutes daily, the momentum of thoughts cease and you experience a feeling of inner peace. You might sense it in the abdomen or as a feeling of weightlessness.
Something else you can try to get out of thinking is by transferring your attention to what the inner space feels like. As you relax and breathe, let your curiosity about the subtle feeling sensations in the inner space of your body fill up your awareness so that your thoughts are replaced.
When you find this is working then you can add a layer of concentrated feeling curiosity going deeper and deeper into the centre of your chest.
The other component involves dealing with thoughts. We want to develop a reference point for the experience of connecting with love energy that is an alternative to the egoic state of mind. This is the purpose of meditation.
We have a lot of subconscious programs that we've learnt and built over time. During the time that we've survived in the world without a connection to love energy we've developed trusted beliefs but these beliefs reflect a world without love.
A world without love is full of conflict, fear and battles of will where people struggle. This isn't fun and it's where negative thoughts and emotions come from.
When we get into these negative situations we reach for what we trust without thinking, we reach for our subconscious programs, beliefs and emotional learning.
The way to deal with that and create space in our mind is to take those events as opportunities to examine the contents of our subconscious. It helps to have a vision of what life is like when we are connected with love to help us understand that the way we are seeing things from a disconnected place is not real.
Without that reference of experiencing alignment with love we can't effectively sort things out because we end up pushing things around trying to cope with a world that is not aligned with love.
What Is Love?
Romantic movies and religious ceremonies teach us all about the meaning of passionate and intense love except they're completely wrong. They cause us to reject the deep experience of love and accept something else.
The deep experience of love is not a wow, I'm falling in love experience, it's a very gentle and soft experience of peace and connection that is easy to miss and skip over.
Appreciation, gratitude and love are similar but heavy emotions while fun is light and easy.
When you look at little children playing all they are concerned about is having fun all day, they do not think about appreciation and gratitude. Love comes naturally to them.
One of Anuj's spiritual goals is to enjoy life and have genuine fun in whatever he does be it work, watching a movie or listening to a song.
It's different to opening the chakra. Through years of conditioning and cluttered thoughts of survival our innocence and the natural zest for life become suppressed.
As we become adults our minds start thinking in terms of shoulds and consequences. When we peal away the layers of ego and speak from our core without editing, that's when we start to have fun.
The first step is learning to feel your own core. Then you can decide to speak from a place of feeling or what you should say. Over time you develop courage to speak and do what you feel instead of what you think you should say and do. This alignment also brings back a
childlike innocence and fun into life.
Sorry about that cricket...
As adults we have the wisdom to protect that innocent child when we encounter challenging situations. We understand the situation better and how to hold ourselves in alignment while still speaking from an innocent place.
Having fun is really important, to be in the now rather than thinking about the future or past. Gratitude is what love looks like in the past, we are thinking about and thankful for what has happened to us.
In the future love looks like hope or desire, something to look forward to.
When you're totally present and having fun in the now then you love it. A lot of people talk about this as flow at the moment. You don't notice the passage of time or anything else going on around you, there is no stress because you're 100% focused on what you're doing.
This is a kind of fun that becomes part of everyday life and what we mean by being centred or finding your core.
Sometimes a meeting or writing is not fun but challenging. At these times it's important to check in with yourself to see you how you're doing in terms of being in flow. While scheduling a meeting ask yourself if you're in flow.
You'll have a lot more fun and overall satisfaction with life.
If you work to deadlines and have a belief that your competence comes from proving your value then you'll attempt to juggle more and more responsibility. One day you'll think "I didn't come to earth to be busy". When you let go of proving your value and think more about what you want to do then you'll have more fun.
A Simple Technique To Deal With Thoughts
Write them down. It's amazing how effective and easy it is to just pay attention to your thoughts and write them down then they don't come back again. You don't even need to write them down as long as you pay attention to them but this is more difficult.
One woman was complaining about all her negative thoughts but after a week of writing them down each day she came back and said "I keep waiting for the negative thoughts but they don't come".
Once a thought has expressed itself they tend not to come back. This is what the Buddhist meditation of 'watching your thoughts' is about.
A young woman used to describe herself as completely unspiritual. Three years ago she realised she wasn't really happy doing what she thought was her life's purpose and she went through a real crisis of leaving her job and her relationship.
She started talking to a spiritual friend once a week, reading the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the bible, listening to Eckhart Tolle, meditating as well as journalling her egoic thoughts each morning.
Three years later she continues this practice and has total clarity in each moment around what is the egoic voice and what has inner alignment or as she calls it "the energy of life force".
Writing things down is really important.
If you indulge the ego, identify with it and allow it to speak then you'll go in endless circles and exacerbate the issue.
If you relax and come from a place of witnessing then as each emotion comes up it's like a fortune cookie where you can ask "what message do you have for me?". When you acknowledge the emotion then it tends to go away.
This doesn't immediately lead to peace, it may lead to another question and another emotion but if you continue you will find peace. It's important to work on yourself first rather than immediately confronting other people with a barrage of emotions. Writing slows your thoughts so you pay attention to small things that may otherwise be overlooked.
Another useful tool are affirmations but not only do you write the affirmation you write down your personal response to it. Write your affirmation and response again but notice how the response changes. You end up with a series of inner responses that gradually come to agreement.
One reason why affirmations might not work is if you're trying to speak it into reality, forcing yourself to try a new idea without taking any action to make it real. By writing your response down you're bringing your darkness into the light.
What Affirmation Should I Choose?
A simple affirmation to start with is your thought and then take the opposite. We're looking for an empty space that allows the truth to come forward. When you have both a negative and positive thought then they cancel each other out creating that empty space that is available for fun..
Eckhart Tolle has a fantastic sense of humor. He could be talking about the terrible suffering in the world and then suddenly laugh about it. He can't hold back the spring of joy that bubbles out of him.
About Shannah White
Shannah's spiritual journey began in earnest at age 14 when she began to work with A Course in Miracles. In 1995, she encountered Sacred Reality, a spiritual educational ministry that very quickly felt like home. Spiritual self-awareness practices and discipline became Shannah’s primary passion as she discovered, within the educational embrace of Sacred Reality, how to open up deeper spiritual senses available to all of us: intuitive sensitivity and heart-centered awareness of divine Love energy.
As she healed her mind through her spiritual practice, she discovered the awkwardness and stress she used to live with all the time, was replaced by peace, authenticity and ease in her own skin, and genuine happiness. Now she brings her 25 years of hard-earned wisdom to bear in coaching others to find their own inner well of happiness by getting out of the head and into the heart, and coming to know self as Love in motion.