This article was featured in the Counselling, Psychotherapy and Private Practice Newsletter, Spring 2014, Volume 6, pg 17.  Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) Newsletter   

Elegance, beauty, subtleness, intensity, connectedness, loving-kindness, guidance, rhythm, joy, peace, love … all this and more is felt and experienced through your heart.  It is your heart that brings these ways of being and your experience of the world to life.   With your heart at the centre of your being, both your inner and outer world transforms.  Your relationship with yourself and others becomes one of openness and integrity.

Heartfulness

Mindfulness meditation received much attention by clinicians as it quickly made its way into the therapeutic arena, through the influence of Thich Nhat Hanh – Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master, and Jon Kabat-Zinn – the founding director of the Center for Mindfulness.  Over time Jon Kabat- Zinn clarified the need to incorporate a deeper understanding of the eastern philosophy of mindfulness to include heartfulness.

He explained that in Asian languages the word for mind and heart are the synonymous and that to grasp the idea of mindfulness we must go inward and also hear heartfulness.  To explain further, in eastern traditions there are different philosophies.  Mindfulness is at the core of Zen philosophy and heartfulness at the centre of Sufi philosophy.  The heart is the main focus in the Sufi way of being; the mind does not play a part.

The concept of heartfulness is now piquing the curiosity of clinicians and those in the healing arts.  Once again they are excited by the notion of incorporating the new approach of heartfulness into their practice.  Where mindfulness appeared to find its way seamlessly into our western culture, heartfulness may be a bit of a different experience.  Heartfulness as a way of being requires a depth of understanding and commitment that goes far beyond paying attention in the moment.

The practice of heartfulness is like a loving invitation from your heart to become consciously aware of yourself through your heart – to honour yourself and live from a place of authenticity.  Heartfulness requires a dedication that comes from an appreciation of the importance of your heart.  The experience itself of living from your heart becomes a powerful motivator to sustain the practice of heartfulness – whether it is heartfulness as a meditative practice and or simply as a state of being.

Your Heart

To fully appreciate your heart you must first understand the role this remarkable organ plays in your life. Your heart is a precious gift.  It brings all together in unity: the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects that make up who you are.  Your heart sustains you by pumping life giving oxygen through your body; it is a source of wisdom; it is your intimate connection with yourself and to others; and also a symbol for love and spirituality.

Your heart like a dear friend and dance partner, supports, encourages and guides you back in the direction of truth – knowing who you are and recognizing what is needed to live healthily and happily.  Much like a well choreographed dance, your heart invites you to be a willing and joyful participant in the flow called life.

When awareness is centered on the heart, life moves into a natural balance.   When in a state of balance there is a graceful flow and ease to your life.  There is an effortless quality to relationships and how you navigate the world.

It is only through the heart that you truly believe you deserve peace, joy and balance in your life. The mind, as useful as it is, is often mischievous and attempts to undermine our confidence in this belief.  The heart gently invites the mind to understand that you are enough by simply being. There is a greater sense of freedom and trust that comes from loving yourself unconditionally.

New Perspective

With time a deeper awareness of self is sensed and perceived through your heart.  A person often describes a shift in perspective and discernment that is accompanied by expanded awareness.   A unique perception of self develops which can only be found through the heart.

A change in perspective can happen over a period of time but can also occur in an instant – in a moment of receptivity of your heart.  Picture a moment when you heard, felt or saw something that required no explanation.  You knew instantly that what you experienced could only be described as truth.

A moment like this is often described as simple yet profound.  In that instant there may be a slight or significant and meaningful change in perspective – a different way of seeing yourself and the world around you.  If asked to pinpoint where in your body you felt or experienced this moment of truth, you would most likely say your heart.

Bringing heartfulness to life

As a clinician the ease with which you make this transition from the concept of mindfulness to heartfulness will depend on your own personal understanding and practice of heartfulness.  Heartfulness is not a therapeutic tool but a way of being that requires a focus and commitment that can only found through the maturity and wisdom found within your heart.

As you embody the practice of heartfulness your perspective and way of being with yourself, your clients and the world transforms.   Your experience of this way of being harmoniously aligns both your inner and outer world.  You become a living example to those around you of how to live simply from the heart.   It is from this place of authenticity that your personal and professional relationships become natural, balanced and heart-centered.