“Follow your heart” sounds like a simple piece of advice that should be easy to follow, but of course it’s not that easy. There’s a learning curve. I’ve been working on that.
I’ve been working on following the advice in one of my favorite blog posts of all time. I reblogged it here or you can find the original here. I’ve been practicing, listening to my subtle feeling states. I’ve been practicing by stepping back, observing myself and the different aspects of me and the different influences on me.
To follow your heart, you have to get clear on what your heart is telling you. You have to set aside your mind, and all the logic and thinking that is telling you what you should or shouldn’t do or feel. You have to allow yourself to purely feel, and acknowledge what you are actually feeling – what your heart is telling you.
One of the problems is, this might not be what you “want” to feel. Your heart might be sure of a goal or outcome in your life, that your mind says is impossible and the world tells you is insane or wrong. What then?
For me, the first step is to fully accept what your heart is telling you. Your mind doesn’t have to immediately agree and you don’t have to act on it right away either. You first have to get used to the idea that you can trust your heart to know what’s right for you, despite what your mind or anyone else thinks.
This fits in with a basic concept that I’ve thought a lot about lately. Someone asked a while back, What is Authenticity? And that made me think and ponder for a while. My conclusion is that Authenticity is always dealing first with “what is” rather than with “what should be.” To “be real” we always have to understand and accept the way things are and the way we actually feel. That doesn’t mean we won’t want to make changes, but it does mean that we start from a place of truth.
Start paying attention to the world around you and the people around you and notice this. In so many instances, we are mostly caught up with focusing on “what should be.” We don’t like the way things are. We focus on what’s wrong. We keep talking about how someone else should be and what they should do and what they should say. We don’t bother to look at who they are.
We look at ourselves and focus on what’s wrong with us and that we shouldn’t be this way and we should be that way. Think about all the ways the world tells you what you should and shouldn’t be, feel or do.
When we start with looking at who a person actually is, and the situation as it is, we are more likely, then, to understand. Once we understand, then we can use our logical minds to think of possibilities and how we can improve a situation or allow a solution that works to move in a positive direction. Or, we can recognize when we are fighting with reality, and adjust accordingly.
So, back to listening to your heart. Your heart is your connection to understanding what your soul wants. What I’ve experienced is that you can be really clear on what your heart is telling you, but that doesn’t mean your world will immediate reflect that.
The “problem” is, our human minds have a hard time operating on “soul time”. Once you get familiar with the ways of the soul, you realize that this way of living is not compatible with living in your mind. We only get a glimpse of what our soul wants for us, and the timing of that might very well be much slower than what our minds are used to. (Since we are souls living in a human body, the reality is that we live in a physical world with certain limits, while at the same time, we exist as a soul in timelessness. So no wonder it is difficult to be aware that you are both and then try to live both at once.)
My latest example is literally about my heart. For the last several years, I have been trying to figure out how to address my blood pressure. When I listen to my heart (about the health of my heart) I know/knew that I would not be taking a lot of medication and that I would not tolerate side effects. I knew I would find a doctor or practitioner that would have this perspective and would look at me as a whole person, as who I am, and then work together with me to find the best solution, without succumbing to fear and rule-following.
In my real, physical life, I have gone through a frustrating process of trying to find the eventual solution that my heart knew was not only possible, but the best outcome for me. I went to a new primary care doctor that gave me a new medication every few weeks, didn’t care about side effects, and had no interest (or time) for figuring out the cause of my hypertension.
I then went to a cardiologist. This was a little better. I still felt like a cog in a wheel, and there still wasn’t any interest in me as an individual. Side effects (and my heart) again led me to keep searching.
You realize, at this point, that most sane people would reasonably conclude that I am being difficult. You know — the doctors know best, side effects are inevitable and unavoidable, and you need to follow the rules, do what your are told, and stop being difficult. At this point I was well aware that my behavior did not fit expectations and was making other people uncomfortable.
But if I was listening to my heart, it was still saying there was something better. To keep searching.
So I went to the Chinese herbalist. (oh, yeah, I can hear the dismissive, judgmental comments from people who are getting increasingly uncomfortable). What you don’t understand, is that this is/was my path. It’s all about experience. I’ve been learning along the way.
The supplements he gave me helped. And better than that, my BP was similar or lower than when I was on the medication where I felt that my legs weren’t working.
I actually think that when you are tuned in to what your heart is telling you and you are focusing on what is, then it becomes really hard to exist in a situation that doesn’t fit. Instead of tuning out the fact that my legs felt numb and I didn’t want to take a walk because I was afraid I would trip, I decided not to tolerate the medication that was causing this!
Then, six months later, I am sitting in the car, waiting to pick up a kid, when I get this urge to turn on the radio to AM. Following this kind of random, intuitive urge is part of listening to my heart, so of course I do it. (I never listen to AM radio.) On comes a chiropractor, talking about a weight loss program that balances your hormones and resets your metabolism. So I look into it, and decide to try.
Sure, dropping 5 lbs. sounded good to me, but it’s not that I was really too heavy. But the detox aspect of the program and the healing were what I thought I would try. Really, I was just going with the synchronicity.
And here’s the thing. On day 6 of this program my blood pressure PLUMMETTED. Something was going on. I ended up dropping 12 lbs in 14 days. I’m back to my 30 year-old weight. Never thought I’d be there. I totally reset my eating habits.
So, during this quest to address my blood pressure, I have read a ton and made all kinds of healthy changes. The overall experience has been transformative. It has been perfect for me. In no way am I saying that you should do what I did. That’s the point – each of us has to follow their own heart so that they can follow the path that their own soul knows is the one that fits their own purpose.
The latest chapter of my medical story is the best, actually. It’s not comfortable being outside the medical box. You still really need a doctor in the system. I felt that if I went back to my previous doctors, I would be “in trouble.” I have an OBGYN who is wonderful, who gets me, but still I knew if I went back to her this spring and didn’t have a couple other routine things taken care of, that she would be pushing me. And even internally, I really knew that I needed to find someone.
I’ve been asking people for years for recommendations for a physician. One in particular, I had heard things that made him sound like just the guy. Trouble is, he practiced with a doctor I used to go to, and the practice wouldn’t let me switch to him. I tried twice.
Last spring, my OBGYN gave me a name on a post-it. I am sure this person is great, but I could not get myself motivated to call her. This felt really weird. My heart was not excited, yet my mind would say that this person probably fit all my criteria and was great. What the heck was going on? The post-it is on my computer screen as I type this. It only now makes sense why I didn’t call her.
If I called her, she probably would be really good and I’d be fine. But instead….
A month or two ago, my friend casually mentioned that her doctor had left his existing practice to open his own practice. Guess who her doctor is? Yep, the one I had been wanting to go to. So, yep, I had my first appointment this week.
He is wonderful. The first appointment was to sit and get to know each other. He asked me about me. We talked statistics and graphs about risk factors for blood pressure. He doesn’t want people on anything more than the minimum they need. He feels like a partner, NOT the ego-driven authority figure that makes decisions for you.
I cannot tell you the sense of relief I had. I got in my car after the appointment, and thought to myself, I am so happy I could cry. And I actually bawled my eyes out with relief and happiness.
You think I haven’t felt the pressure of going against every sane, logical, normal thing I was supposed to do to prevent myself from having a stroke or heart attack? Are you aware of the amount of fear associated with heart disease?
So this morning, my blood pressure was 120/80. I’m sure the story is not over. But I know in my heart, that this adventure was the experience my soul wanted me to have.
And probably the biggest thing I learned is that, even when your heart is very, very clear about where you are headed and you know just the outcome that makes your heart sing, the process can be excruciating and long and frustrating and seem impossible. The people around you will not understand what the heck you are doing. You will not make logical sense. The world will make you feel wrong and crazy.
So don’t tell yourself that you “shouldn’t feel” a certain way. If you feel it, then let yourself feel it.
Don’t tell yourself that the thing you want most in the world is unrealistic. Allow yourself to know that anything is possible.
But remember, the process to get there might be a lot longer and a lot more complicated than your mind expects. Instead of getting frustrated and down about this, focus instead on what you are experiencing and learning along the way. Become more aware of the rules and expectations that are imposed upon you from the outside, and resist letting them tell you who you are and who you should be, what to feel and what to expect.
This ties into the idea that you are perfect. When you use outside expectations to determine your worth, you can never live up or be good enough. When you take the perspective that your heart knows the path of your soul, and that it’s all about the experience (that is yours alone), then you can’t help but be perfect because you are perfectly you. You are perfect by definition.
The world we live in today will not make this easy. It will fight you on this. Instead of thinking “it shouldn’t be that way!” understand that IT IS that way. But if you notice, the world is changing toward more acceptance of differences, more tolerance, less judgment about people who follow their hearts. At the same time, the resistance has become more crazy and vocal. As individuals change, society changes. And as society changes, that strikes fear in many. It’s just all part of the process.
I haven’t been writing so much lately. My mind tells me I “should.” And when I try from that place, the words don’t flow very well. But this one came so easily. It’s not just because my cardiovascular health is in front of me at the moment. This post comes from my heart, from a place that knows this concept of following your heart and trusting the process even when it seems impossible and takes forever is so important. I suspect (and hope) that there is someone reading this that knows this is meant for them, too, in a way that only they know. Listen to your heart, and follow the synchronicities. Your soul knows what it’s doing.
And of course, right before I sat down to write this, my friend Briony posted this: