“A person’s world is only as big as their heart.”
What matters to YOU?
I mean, what really matters to you? I’m not talking about the pile of things you’ve got on your to-do list. I’m talking about the things that light you up. The things that make your heart sing. The things that light a fire in your belly and give you fierce, focused, enthused determination.
Far too often I think we get addicted to stress (present company included). We view our days and all the tasks therein, as impending deadlines. We start living as one big means to a whole lot of ends. But those ends stress us out. They get us nowhere. Nowhere that really matters anyway. When we start living this way, it’s not just that we aren’t doing the things that light us up. By continually choosing the “quick hits of accomplishment,” we do more than diminish our daily joy. We close our hearts.
More often than not, we close our hearts when we experience stress or fear: what if I don’t get this task done? what will they think? what if I’m not good enough? what if I fail? what if? what if? what if…?
“What If” is a powerful question to ask, one that can either bring us to a greater sense of purpose and awareness or one that can cut us down and have us play small. They key is not the question itself, but the feeling you get when asking the “What If” question. If you feel anxious, stressed or fearful, this What If is not something that really matters to you. It’s the What If that will give you the quick hit of accomplishment. But, it’s also the What If that close your heart. However, if you are filled with a sense of wonder, excitement, possibility or if asking that What If allows you to visualize what having that good feeling looks like; you have found something that really matters. This is the thing that allows you to grow and expand and will open your heart.
Opening up our hearts is about creating
s p a c e.
Creating space for what really matters to us. When we make time for the things that inspire us or give us a sense of purpose, we create space. When we do things that make us feel good, we create space. When we focus on our breath, we create space. Breath is always expansive and connects us back to ourselves. The question isn’t in the answer to What If, it’s in the feeling of the answer.
When we are in a static pose in yoga class, or in a challenging exercise in intenSati-when our legs are shaking, our heart is racing and we’re gasping for air-that is our opportunity at an open heart. We can ask a What If: What if I fall out of the pose or I am too tired to keep going? It’s not in the answer to What If, but in the feeling of the answer. If the feeling we are going for is strength or a sense of accomplishment, then we have to open up, push a little more, maybe wobble a bit or fall, so that we can create space for that feeling to arise. At our most challenging times, in class or off the mat, we can remain closed and contemplate how much longer we’re in the move, how much it hurts, or continue the negative self-talk. Or, we can open up. When we choose to stay in the pose or move a little longer, when we reach a little more, we’ll realize not only is the move over, but that we surpassed what we thought we could do.
Transformation happens when we open up.
On Sunday night I went up to NYC for a Shakti Naam Spring Equinox Celebration that was led by Naam yoga founder, Dr. Joseph Levry. The word Naam means word and this practice incorporates breath work, asanas, meditation and the chanting of mantras. It’s truly a powerful practice and you can click HERE to learn more about Naam.
If you’ve been to an intenSati class or have taken class with me, you know the power of hearing other voices chanting affirmations alongside you. Nothing connects you to a greater sense of purpose and being and nothing opens your heart and awakens your divine consciousness like chanting with others. But, the chanting in Naam is different. Rather than affirmations, you are chanting mantras, sound currents or sacred words that enable your body and mind to become one. This chanting, though it sounds like singing, is also different than singing. As Dr. Levry said, “We exercise for the physical body, we breathe for the mind, and we chant for the soul.” And nothing opens up your heart or infuses your soul with a sense of oneness than chanting mantras with 200 people in a candle lit room.
Doing something for the first time, especially chanting in public with people you don’t know and words you don’t know how to pronounce entirely, can be reason to close up. It would have been easy to close my heart and mouth, even with my handy mantra chanting cheat sheet they gave us. Instead, I asked What If: What if I am off-key? What if I don’t know the words? What if everyone knows I’m the new one and I just don’t fit in? The feeling I was going for was expansiveness and experience and those are things I knew I couldn’t feel by closing off my heart and mind.
Transformation happens when we open up.
Towards the end of class, we were asked to get into partners. With our palms together and our arms extended up, we were asked to chant while looking into each other’s eyes. My partner was Erika, a fellow intenSati leader, but not someone I know too well. As we started to chant while looking in each other’s eyes, what started as a singular chant we each said, became one. Our voices started to harmonize. Our bodies started to sway. And rather than wonder how much longer we’d have to chant, I hung on each syllable.
I cannot describe to you the energetic exchange that happened during this moving event. Like intenSati, it’s something you just have to experience. But the reason I share this with you is for you to ask yourself:
What matters to you?
And, even more than that….
How does it FEEL?
It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in our to-do lists and not make time for what really matters. It’s also just as easy to get wrapped up in things we justify as mattering or that we think matter but that don’t leave us feeling good. Have you ever done something because you felt like you had to? Because it mattered to someone else or it was what society told you to do, but it left you feeling less-than fulfilled? Or maybe you didn’t do something for exactly the same reason. Opening up our hearts means coming back to what really matters and it is in the feeling of things that we find our truth.
Today, choose to live from your heart and live out what really matters. Today, be guided by an open heart to do what matters, rather than what just has to be done. Today, do the things that matter to you and create the space for how you want to feel.