Reprinted from Fractal Enlightenment
“You must listen to your heart and follow it or it will find a million ways to remind you that there is something missing” – Unknown
Probably one of the most cliché phrases we hear in spirituality circles is, “follow your heart.” Everyone is telling everyone to follow their heart, listen to their inner knowing, follow their intuition etc… Unfortunately the heart doesn’t have a loud booming voice that comes from the heavens and tells us exactly what we should or shouldn’t do. Nor does it hang signs and banners in front of us telling us “go this way” or “don’t go that way.” So how do we know which of our inner voices to listen to? How do we know if we are making decisions from our heart or if we are listening to our head?
It’s important to remember first and foremost that we are born with the natural inclination to follow our hearts. A baby doesn’t make any decisions from its head, all decisions are based upon how it feels. If the baby feels happy it giggles, if it feels angry or hungry it will cry and scream, it has no thought of how ridiculous it looks to have been laughing one second and the next be wailing and crying. Over time we lose this natural ability to just handle life based purely on our body’s energy and cues, because we start to learn the social “norms”.
We discover which behaviors are “appropriate” and which aren’t and we start to form our personalities based on how we think, not only society but also how our family and friends expect us to behave and live our lives. All of this listening to other people and their opinions and standards for what is a “good” life or what is a “good” job or what is “bad” one, leads us straight into our analytical selves (our head), and straight away from our true feelings (our heart). We mull over decisions from the perspective of what is “good” and what is “bad” or what is “acceptable” and what is “unacceptable” based purely on our programming, which is a collection of the data we have collected from television, parents, culture, society, book’s we’ve read, etc…
The problem is most people do not consciously know that their heads are filled with a collection of things they’ve read, heard on television, heard their friends say. They actually think they are generating all of their thoughts on their own which makes it even harder for them to discern between which thoughts are coming from their head or which are intuitive nudges from their heart.
So if operating from our heart is what comes naturally, and operating from our head is what we have learned over time, it’s safe to say that the unlearning of listening to our mind chatter and getting back to our natural way of dealing with life, is where we should start in order to start being able to tell head vs heart apart.
“The quieter you become the more you can hear” – Ram Dass
Forget everything you think you know about how life should be. Shed every “should do”, “shouldn’t do”, that you’ve heard from people in your life. Everyone you meet is going to have an opinion on what is the right kind of life to have or the right decision to make, but the only person who can truly make that decision for you is you. Of course this is easier said than done because our programming is so ingrained in our heads, but once you start to disconnect from all of your past programming you will find that your mind gets a little quieter.
Since the mind is divisive in nature, it wants to label each decision as right or wrong, good or bad. This is what it is always doing no matter what. Almost all fear and doubt is coming from your mind, and I say “almost” because there are actual instances when you will be in danger, in which case a natural intuitive fear will come about, but these are rare occasions. While the heart KNOWS what to do, the mind THINKS it knows what to do… and then it’s not sure, and then it is sure, and then it’s not sure again. It goes back and forth between “should I” or “shouldn’t I.”
Anytime we are caught in an internal conflict such as this, we can be assured this is coming from our head and not our heart. The heart however, operates from contraction and expansion. Contraction is when our body tenses up, we may feel short of breath or our chest will feel tight. Expansion makes us feel lighter, like we can breathe better, like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Sometimes following our heart will make us feel a little scared too, because it may involve us making a huge life change, but when we are trying to make an ultimate decision, we notice that one decision will feel stifling, suffocating and limiting and one will feel like anxious excitement.
It’s important that we are able to decipher which is which. Excitement about the future is always a good sign that a decision is coming from our heart. If you are noticing that lots of fear is popping up in your decision making, walk yourself through the fear. Does the fear stem from what other people will think about you? Does it stem from making a ‘wrong’ decision and then regretting it later? Both of these are coming from the head, they are based on the programming again of what life should or shouldn’t be like. If we just remember, the head thinks and the heart feels, we can start to be more in touch with the cues our bodies are sending us instead of the fear and doubt that our minds are generating.
Everyone has that little voice in their head telling them “you can’t do it,” “you’ll never succeed,” or “it’s going to be too hard or take too much time, so why even try?”… Everyone. Once you realize this voice is lying to you, a whole new realm of possibilities opens up for you. What if you knew, like REALLY knew that anything was possible? How would your life change? The more you stop believing in that little fear voice that likes to instill doubt in you, the more you realize that those thoughts aren’t popping up at all anymore.
At this point you can follow what is coming naturally to you, maybe it’s moving away, or maybe it’s painting, or maybe it is writing or making music, it doesn’t really matter what the decision is. When we start doing things that intuitively bring us joy and excitement we will start the ball rolling on our expansion of our heart and our true self. Living our life from our heart will FEEL good, so little by little we start to trust this little intuition feeling instead of the thoughts stemming from our minds and slowly but surely our life starts to unfold into a spontaneous set of exciting circumstances, instead of a controlled, rigid and fear based existence. Then our heart becomes our ‘go-to’ guy in decision making, which makes life not only completely unexpected, but also amazing.