How to Listen to Your Heart
Our culture is full of so much activity and noise. From the time that they can walk, we slap an electronic gadget into our children's hands. We stare at colorful screens that beep, buzz, and move with beautiful colors.
Adults are no better. We go from phone to tablet to TV to computer and start all over again. Being separated from our electronic gadgets sounds unrealistic. I recently had a conversation with someone that said it is not possible to disconnect. We feel the pressure to always stay plugged in and connected.
Add to this mayhem the crush of schedules and activities. Even our play looks like work. And it has left us stressed out. But even worse than the stress is our inability to listen to the quiet within us - our heart.
I call them heart whispers. They are those nudgings and knowings that come to give you clarity, peace, and direction. It is the still small voice that knows exactly what we need. In Christian circles, we know this voice as the Holy Spirit.
And we drown it out with noise. So much noise and activity leaves us exhausted, restless, and unable to sleep. It is a side effect of our addiction to busy.
Listening to your heart is the beginning of experiencing peace. The Scriptures calls it "the peace that passes all understanding." It is only in stillness that we can connect to God and to our heart whispers.
How much time do you spend in quiet? How much time do you spend without staring at an electronic device (including TV)?
Stillness is the first step to hearing from your heart. Learning how to sit and relax your body takes practice. Most of us never learned this skill. It is a practice perfected by highly spiritual people. They train themselves to sit in stillness to listen.
Stillness must be followed by an intentional focus on peaceful thought and flow. It is a resting from the "cares of this world." In this still and peaceful place, your body and brain are able to rest and relax.
Mekeda Pennycooke outlines the "12 Benefits to Practicing Stillness" on her blog. She says,
The idea of being in stillness is counter-cultural to our fast paced, always on the go society. Multi-tasking is the norm, long to-do lists the standard and every second of the day is scheduled with an activity that needs to be done.
In Huffington Post's article "Why Silence is Good for Your Brain," they cite our busy and noisy world as an health threat:
In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern plague,” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”
Now that we know the seriousness of our situation, let's talk about what you can do to begin taking back your peace. Here are three ways to begin listening to your heart:
Put Your Hand on Your Heart. I know this sounds strange, but placing your hand on your heart is one way to connect with it. Your heart is full of energy and electrical charges. You can read more about that in WebMD's article "Electric System of the Heart." Putting your hand over your heart allows you to center yourself on what you are feeling. It creates energy that has a calming effect. The next time you are in the middle of a stressful situation, try putting your hand over your heart and notice how your feelings shift.
Develop a Toolkit of Feeling. Most of us don't have a family that taught us to fully feel. And our culture has created various ways for us to numb ourselves from feeling anything. We zone out in front of our TVs, munch mindlessly on food, and stay involved in activities that distract us. Centering ourselves on our feelings opens us to hear our heart's whispers. Steve Jobs, Mr. Rational Nerd himself, said this:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~Steve Jobs
(excerpt from Purpose Fairy's post "How to Listen to Your Heart Even When Your Mind Disagrees")
Learn the Language of Feeling. The language of feeling is very different from the language of rational logic. We are just beginning to acknowledge and understand the power of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence requires us to be tuned into our emotions and the emotions of other people. And to do that, we must have an expansive vocabulary of emotional expression. As a scientist, I used to suck at this. I understood and could easily express rational thought. I always knew what I thought. I didn't always know what I felt (emotional disconnection). Part of the reason was that I wasn't taught the language of emotion. You can learn the language of feeling. Start by downloading this pdf file from the Center for Nonviolent Communication.
If you want to go even deeper with connecting with your heart, I highly recommend checking out the HeartMath method. You can learn more about the method at HeartMath Institute. And pick up this book that teaches you how to use the method to reduce your anxiety.
Purchase from Amazon HERE
In the last year, I have made it my intention to practice mindfulness and meditation. Those are also powerful tools that I will mention in future blog posts.
The rewards of listening to the whispers of your heart are enormous. I have listened and it has brought me to a place of peace and understanding. It led to me launching this blog and my life coaching business. I want others to experience what it is like to live in alignment with Your Unique, your values, your mission, and your passion.
I am on your side in this. And I will be right here cheering for you.