by Valerie Mason-John
An Extract from:
Detox Your Heart
from ch 2 – Freedom of Heart
Detoxing your heart
Our hearts could be described as huge muscles that open and close, shrivel and expand, soften and harden, love and hate. We have to work diligently to keep our hearts open, just as we have to work to keep other muscles in the body strong. Purifying our hearts is ongoing, like physical exercise. It is, as the poet Galway Kinnell writes, necessary to ‘reteach a thing its loveliness’.
When we start to open our hearts, we start to uncover ourselves to ourselves, removing layers of frustration that have become toxic. The way to uncover ourselves is through awareness of our thoughts and emotions. If we are to detox our hearts, build up our heart muscles, and become happier, we must cultivate mindfulness in everything we do. Kahlil Gibran says in The Prophet that we must trust in the seasons of the heart. I say we must trust in the seasons of our feelings, observing them come and go like spring, summer, autumn, and winter. With the presence of awareness we can see there is no need to hold to or push away our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They will come and go of their own accord. If we push them away or cling to them they will stay in our hearts and accumulate. Similarly, if we allow our thoughts to be like clouds in the sky, they will pass. Even the dark, heavy clouds eventually pass.
Ask yourself how your heart is feeling today. Awareness begins in the heart. This turning inwards can be a revolutionary act. We might ask ourselves how we feel when we wake up in the morning. If we know we’re feeling angry, we can at least be forewarned. OK, we are feeling emotionally under the weather. Befriend your anger and see it as a warning to take care of yourself throughout the day. Try not to eradicate or block the experience. Only acknowledge them, then let go. Let the muscles of your heart soften, let your tears dilute your toxins, let the heart stay open.
If you remember, ask yourself in the middle of the day how your heart is. This will help to keep it open, and you may find that what you were feeling in the morning is quite different to what you are feeling at midday. This is impermanence. The universal law of change.
a heart practice
Finally, I offer you this heart meditation. You can do this while travelling or relaxing at home. You can do it for five minutes or half an hour. I often do this while travelling on a train or bus, and I am always astonished how the people around me become more human. I find myself smiling and I’m greeted by friendly smiles too. If I am delayed it helps me keep calm, and not anxious about being late. If you are new to inner reflection or meditation, I suggest you begin with just five minutes. You may find you connect with the visualization part of the exercise more than the repetition of phrases, or vice versa. This is OK, as both techniques are beneficial in helping us to slow down and connect with our hearts.
While reflecting on this practice be aware of the pace of your heart. You might find it beats very fast. This often happens when you contact challenging feelings. Don’t panic; pay attention to your heartbeat and this will help quieten the breath and the heart, gently slowing them down. When you become more confident just see how long you naturally want to sit for. Remember to try to notice any difference to your day when you introduce these reflections.
1. Either close your eyes or keep your vision directed slightly downwards. Imagine your heart as a dark, mysterious, unknown but beautiful cavern. Imagine the daylight pouring in, and the sunlight opening up and detoxing your heart. Be aware of your breath as you reflect on this beautiful image for two minutes, and become aware of the feelings that arise.
2. Next say to yourself, ‘Breathing in I feel my heart, breathing out my heart is opening.’ On the next in-breath say, ‘I feel my heart,’ and on the following out-breath say, ‘My heart is opening.’ Repeat these statements for the next couple of minutes, becoming aware of the feelings that arise.
3. Try to end with the following. Say to yourself, ‘Breathing in may my heart detox, breathing out my heart is detoxed.’ Then on the next in-breath say, ‘May my heart detox,’ and on the following out-breath say, ‘My heart is detoxed.’ Repeat these statements for one minute, becoming aware of the feelings that arise.
4. Slowly become aware of yourself sitting, wherever you are, connecting with your buttocks, your feet, your hands. If your eyes are closed, gently open them and come back into the world.
Things to try
Develop or enhance self-love within your heart
Take time to pause
Connect with the breath
Feel your feelings
Connect with your heart
Become aware of thoughts
Catch your judgements and interpretations
Become aware of change
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Windhorse Publications
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Believe nothing merely because you have been told it… Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings — that doctrine believe and cling to and take it as your guide.