Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Language of the Heart

While away on my recent island retreat I gave myself the assignment of being more mindful about the specific quality and content of my moment-to-moment perceptions. In other words, I was all about getting really curious about the beliefs and emotional states I grasp onto at any given moment. I was especially interested in how my sense of self and wellbeing (or not) is based on these fleeting weather systems of thought/feeling.

This is not a ground breaking intention; most certainly a Contemplation 101 type assignment.  But since I wanted some kind of close to the bone orienting theme for my time away, this one fit the bill.

During my days of silence, my habitual perception grooves revealed themselves to me with some startling discoveries.  I realized some things about my inner narrative that humbled me, some things that delighted me, and some things that inspired me to LEAP out of tired old habits.

Here's what I found out: 
I talk way too much.
I am compelled to help others like a squirrel on crack.
I'm a bit of a know-it-all.
What needs to be said can be said in fewer words and with more heart.
Caring touch and quiet loving presence are powerful healers.
Sunrise, sunset, moon rise, the wind through the trees (really - all of nature and her critters) are wise teachers on the themes of impermanence, courage, reverence, and awe.
It's truly possible (moment-by-moment) to name and tame the onslaught of thoughts and feelings that cause me suffering.
Deep, full-bodied, compassionate listening might just be the answer to all that ails us.
Joy and grief are close companions and that's just fine.

On the ferry ride back to the mainland I could feel the clarity of my insights dull a bit. I heard the low murmur of my old habitual thoughts and feelings vying for attention, arguing with me that life is more complex, there really are conditions (about myself, others, the world) to fret about, figure out, fix, control, and change. But these voices just didn't have the same impact. My central nervous system wasn't buying it. My stress response was disinterested in kicking into high gear.

The language of my heart was calling me back to my calm center and I was choosing to return.

From this calm center I could hear the counsel of my heart assuring me that the conditions that needed tending could be addressed with a lighter touch and more skillfulness when unburdened of fretting and struggle.

Yes there are ideas to share, words to speak, actions to take, help to be offered, life to be lived with meaning and purpose. Yet the shift from noisy squirrel-fretting to quiet heart-counsel makes all the difference in my being able to participate with life in a way that brings true communion with others and beneficial change to my local/global community.

This passage from David Abram's book Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology is a perfect definition of what I am calling the language of the heart:
"... the power of language remains, first and foremost, a way of singing oneself into contact with others and the cosmos, a way of bridging the silence between oneself and another person, or a startled black bear, or the crescent moon soaring like billowed sail above the roof. Whether sounded on the tongue, printed on the page, or shimmering on the screen, language's primary gift is not to represent the world around us, but to call ourselves into the vital presence of that world - and into deep and attentive presence with one another."

Breathtaking.

And so this is where I'm LEAPING right now. Tapping away on this shimmering screen and trusting that the language of my heart is singing to your heart; perhaps even inspiring you to listen in a full-bodied way to your heart-counsel in taming your squirrel-fretting so that you can get on with the meaningful adventure of life and the invitation to....

KEEP LEAPING!

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