Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week 20 - Hidden Away

I want to free your heart. I want to see your heart. Please don't keep your heart hidden away. ~Josh Groban, from the song Hidden Away

I heard this new song by Josh Groban for the first time last fall and it struck me so poignantly. Picking up his new CD a few days ago, I have had the opportunity to listen to it even more closely. What a precious gift this is -- this invitation to step into the truth and beauty of our hearts and allow them to illumine our lives. It encapsulates why I've undertaken this meditation project that I've been calling Journey of the Heart -- none of us is meant to hide, but to live with the fullness of our being. My intention has been to find out what that means in my own life. And perhaps to inspire others to wonder what it could mean for theirs.

But not all of our journeys are the same. We each need to find what brings us to our most loving, joyful and authentic selves.

Yes, I am the girl who has lived since day one with her heart on her sleeve. As I became more of this world I found it vital to develop a hefty suit of armor to simply exist and function. Like lots of us, I grew into an overachiever and once on-task, have some difficulty not taking things to the extreme. Case in point, I have excelled in armor production.

This suit of armor I so excellently developed was my mind. I learned without consciously knowing how that my mind could keep me safely disconnected from the "fancies" of my heart. Feeling became the most undesired of the undesirables. By holding my heart down, my mind enabled me to play nice, to get along well, to do as I was told. Don't rock the boat, baby. This square peg became quite adept at fitting into round holes. And if any wiley feeling got loose and bubbled to the surface? My mind drowned out the heart attempting to making itself known by telling me, "It just doesn't matter".

This way of being in the world seemed to serve me well for many years...until it didn't. Until it didn't and the feelings had to go somewhere. As early as high school, my body became the vehicle for getting rid of these emotions. I joined the swim team where I could pound out my frustration and anger, slapping the water, kicking into flip turns harder and harder until I exhausted myself. It worked. The feelings went away, at least for the time being. Some would call this constructive -- and maybe it started out that way. A productive outlet. But it began a cycle that in the end, wasn't at all constructive because it missed the point: My heart still wanted to be heard.

I had become so disconnected from how I felt emotionally that when that wasn't enough, I disconnected physically as well.

With the ante upped, my body began rebelling against being used and abused to further the cause of the mind. So I tried harder to honor the will of the mind, which only made my body rebel more intently. During my first year of college I landed in the hospital for debilitating chest pains that seemed to have neither cause nor cure. There was the three-week-long backpacking trip with insufficient food that I gutted through unnecessarily that yielded a bum ankle, numbness and bruising from an ill-fitted pack that didn't heal for months and a most horrendous case of hives when I began eating again. I suffered a case of mono that I pushed through for five months until the relapses broke me down to the point where I was forced to take several weeks off of work so I could begin the slow recovery process, which took more than three years. And most recently I herniated two discs pulling buckthorn that laid me up for the better part of the past year.

At least no one's ever called me stubborn.

This has been my journey...maybe a little similar in ways to yours. In contemplating how to rediscover my own authenticity, creating space to listen to, feel and trust my heart is my answer. Meditation, my most recent path to get there, my newest tool in my toolbox. I like to think that's what we do -- collect tools from our life experience for the toolbox that is in service of our lives. What's in my toolbox? What works for me? Gratefully, this meditation project is allowing me to wend my way through what all of this means, by feeling it.

Don't get me wrong, there is something to be said about "mind over matter" -- the mind as its own entity makes the body capable of many amazing feats. But I now choose to let that be the exception rather than the rule -- I don't need to be Wonder Woman anymore (although I'd still like a pair of those kick a** bracelets).

So, at the halfway point of this 40 week meditation adventure, I take stock: I will no longer allow my heart to be hidden away, my body and I have a new understanding, and although from time to time my mind still likes to pretend it's in charge, with each passing week, it seems to loosen its grip and become more friend than foe.

What I don't know is where this journey called my life goes from here. The beauty is, I don't have to. And to my surprise, I'm finding an inordinate amount of joy in that.//

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