My father once said to me, Listen to your heart and listen to your head and follow the one that serves you best. Geez Wayne - how do I do that? And what does that mean? If I am listening to both and they don't agree with each other how do I know which one is going to serve me best?
I am not sure if this was a throw away line or not but it perplexed me for a number of years and I think the reason is simply this: the line assumes, or it did to me, that the mind and heart aren't in agreement with each other and that you need to listen to both and agree with only one of them. I've come to realise that I want my head to serve my heart, and not march to its own tune. But yes, it is true I believe that sometimes we can find ourselves in a head heart battle and that can be very unsettling and confusing. I like to believe that we need to listen to our hearts but it's not always easy.
I have come to realise that we need to nourish our minds in order to be guided by our hearts.
Mindfulness and meditation, as trendy as they are, work because they enable us over time to become a witness to our experience and not ruled by it. By experience, I mean our thought patterns, our bodily sensations and our automatic responses and behaviour. Becoming more self aware and mindful, and learning to meditate, creates space between our developed identities and our essential nature. Our essential nature, as I see it, is loving and kind to all of life, including ourselves. Mindfulness and meditation increase our capacity to see the wood from the trees so to speak, expand our perception, make space and have the ability to direct our will or make choices that align more with how we want to be in the world.
It would be fair to say that our brains are awash with our innate and lived experienced. And often, without even realising it, we choose to feed our minds with thoughts and ideas that are already familiar to us, even if they aren't really working in our favour. How many times do we choose to read, watch or listen to something that confirms what we already believe. It is often human nature. The mind often seeks confirmation of its formed identity, unless of course we have beautifully open minds and hearts. We can get stuck in negative thinking, and generally we can get caught up in over-thinking which causes our hearts to sing as loudly as we might like.
Mindfulness and meditation, especially when it incorporates breathing practices and body awareness, can bring us back into closer communication with our hearts so that our hearts can speak to us, and so I minds can listen.
I think in life, nourishing our minds and hearts and making conscious decisions about how we want to think and act carves the way for a better life for ourselves, and all those around us.