What is the heart? Really?

I just listened to Danielle LaPorte’s latest podcast episode on “WHAT IS LOVE? REALLY?” and I am in such a better and more open and loving space than I was in when I first started listening to it. Really I am not sure what happened because I am not sure I consciously know how to shift to being more loving when I am not feeling that way. I am not sure if someone could give me step-by-step instructions on how to get into a space of love or at least if someone could do that I have no idea what it is inside of me that somehow knows how to follow them. Somehow, over forty or so minutes of listening to her talk, something in me kind of woke up to something it already knew, and I started feeling a whole lot lighter, less hard on myself, more gentle, and all of these good feelings were flowing around inside of me (and as Danielle says, love is not a feeling, but it certainly can open you up to all sorts of good feelings).

I had been feeling kind of messed up and like if I went any deeper into Spanish or if I were to dive into screenwriting right now it might be too much for me because I’ve already been broken open in some way with the key word being broken, not open, and I was just in this space where I was blaming myself for any impression I might have inadvertently conveyed to anyone at the party a couple nights ago, and just not knowing why my heart feels so vulnerable about it. When you aren’t really saying that much and you are kind of in your own space and then people start approaching you and talking to you in Spanish, and then you don’t exactly remember what they said to you or how you responded, there are fears of having come off in ways you never intended, and for some reason, though on the surface it feels like such a little thing, I can’t understand why it feels like my fears of all of this reveal such a wound in my heart. It is not like I was like these characters in movies who get drunk and then hang naked on the chandeliers. I was probably really quiet and didn’t speak unless someone spoke to me but I am afraid that when someone spoke to me I said something silly and I am just afraid of… not taking up space or taking up space in the wrong way, saying a few words that might lead someone to form an impression of me or to label me, and what if someone offered me something or was really nice to me and I didn’t express gratitude or warmth, pr what if when someone was really nice to me I tuned out and went back into my own world and stopped paying attention to them?

What if… what if… what if… and honestly I cannot tell if I was too quiet, too shy, too reserved, or too obnoxious, to hanging-naked-from-the-chandeliers like, and both of these judgments of myself are coming up at the exact same time, like I am not giving myself any space to just be and to accept how I am. It feels strange that people started paying attention to me when I was not expecting that and in retrospect I am like oh no what if I didn’t show that I was grateful for their attention, what if I came off as cold, what if I was awkward, what if I made someone else uncomfortable in some way, what if, what if… I had been thinking, deciding to leave the party when a couple of these people said goodnight might not have been the best idea, because I got paranoid and started to wonder if I was no longer welcome. If I had stayed a while longer I could have scoped things out to see if that were really true, but I guess, in the end it wasn’t really necessary, because I could tell from the way Alejandro talked to me the next day that it wasn’t like that.

Still, I don’t know, I show up at one party and all this huge stuff comes up for me and I have no idea what it even is or where it’s coming from and I feel like I have so much stuff to work on inside of myself and it’s kind of impossible and… yet, at the same time, with someone around me who really got me, all of my feelings and experiences would have been completely different. So many of these fears have to do with, in a way, being alone at this party, not having someone close to me there who I could confide in and share my feelings with in an intimate way. All of these fears just came up that, if I feel that awkward and insecure — and I didn’t exactly feel that way until afterwards when all the things I might have messed up started running through my mind — how am I going to get to a person that I can confide in in that way? “So much depends on a proper introduction,” was an idea that came to me around this screenplay dialogue I was writing. There are so many fulfilling introductions that could happen but the key is to be introduced to that person who really really somehow just gets you so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable anymore and can finally just enjoy your experience.

Last night and this morning I have felt kind of hard on myself and just blah and though I have wanted to play with Spanish and screenplays all of a sudden I felt like I had sooo much stuff inside of me to work through and like going in those directions would just intensify it and I wasn’t sure I could handle that. A couple nights ago I kind of started dreaming in Spanish and it was intense, just this feeling of flowing in Spanish, and I don’t know if my heart can take it. It’s so hard to explain what I mean by that but it feels a lot like how I get afraid of the guitar. The opening could be overwhelming and considering the woundedness that has come up I am afraid of what is on the other side of opening, what hard things I am going to have to confront within myself before everything is okay. If I just let myself get fluent in Spanish, which I could do pretty quickly if I *let* myself, something weird would happen with my heart, and it felt like the more my heart opens, the more I will feel this old woundedness that came up around whatever happened at that party (which is likely nothing more than my own insecurity around people who actually liked me). A lot of it is this fear that if I am not always censoring myself I am going to mess things up in a huge way and nobody will like me… without someone attached to me at the hip, someone to talk to about our insecurities and fears where all of our experience is *in*, someone I can hold and protect and who can do the same for me, I feel like maybe I’ll always feel that way.

I was reading a little bit of the beginning of a book by Alfred Adler last night. I was really struck by this idea he has that we may start developing our philosophies of life when we are just months old (if he’s going to go that far I would easily go even further and say that starts in the womb). We develop our life goals at an extremely early age, before even the development of language, based upon the way we feel as our natural self, and then we encounter the social world and we develop strategies to adapt to that while always having in mind… what we knew about ourselves from the beginning: what feels good to us, our desired feelings, who we are. I don’t know if I am being exactly true to his ideas but I find all this fascinating. It reminds me of ideas that I had around philosophy being deeper than language and I am not sure where exactly I got these ideas but the only thing that is immediately coming to mind is George Lakoff’s Philosophy in the Flesh. Everything philosophy points to is pre-linguistic, I think, and I’m kind of too tired to attempt to clarify what I mean by that, but I think… there’s this assumption that we learn about the world through thinking and then philosophy is a way of clarifying that and understanding ourselves better. I think more than we can imagine philosophy as a linguistic activity is really influenced by these non-verbal embodied philosophies we developed when we were just coming into the world. I think so many of the hang ups we get into around philosophy being at a dead end or paradoxes that don’t make sense have more to do with the nature of language than the nature of the universe we live in but we confuse the two and if we could only… find out what it might mean to say that very young, pre-verbal children are already developing philosophies, it might go such a long way to wakening philosophy itself from its long dogmatic post-Kantian slumber.

So this podcast was so helpful. I love the idea of walking around the world beaming love at everything, including everything in love as love, and Danielle talks about doing this sort of thing with a friend. YES, that is exactly the sort of thing that would be great to do with a friend, or as the perfect first date or something, and it reminds me of what I have been writing about of late around sort of being emptiness, pure awareness, and letting authentic movements and actions in the world arise out of that. This is fun. Noticing how I act when I let go of my ego’s attachment to scripts and ideas of how it should act and just letting the energy move me is fun, and doing it with a friend would be really fun, but I realise now that there is a piece missing from that, the next piece that would make this an even more fun activity to do with a friend: beaming love all around everywhere and coming from love and… I think the next step after that would be, together, moving and acting and being in our authentic naturalness and flowing with the energy, beaming love all around and feeling the love all around in every cell of our bodies, to then take up space in the world and be really, really weird together!

So much of what makes it hard to shift into a love-filled space actually has a lot to do with language and Danielle uses just the right language to point me right into that experience of being love, though I have no idea how she does it. I don’t think I would know what to do to shift from that really heavy, sad, critical space to a love-filled space on my own and I think what I need to do that is to hear the right kind of language pointing me to it. Without the language, it is hard, and I don’t know how to do it, but the right language somehow points to what I already know, but I don’t know how I know it.

I have been wondering about this thing I notice where my actual energetic heartspace sometimes also seems to be where my sense of ego is strongest: it is where I hold on, where I am most afraid of letting go, and it’s where I feel the judgments of others, the fears of having messed things up, of having disappointed others, of having wasted my life, and on and on. My fears around everything gather in this heart center to such an extent that it can be really hard to just… be in my heart center… as a way of being more loving.

The way I perceive my heart center sometimes is… it’s this place with a whole lot of yucky feelings, feelings of disappointment, heartbreak, inadequacy, fear of everything up to and including death. That is sometimes my most obvious kinesthetic experience of my heartspace and along with all of it is often this knowing that maybe I could let go and melt but there is ego there that is so resistant to doing that for fear of the unknown or… whatever. So I feel like I cannot just connect with the energies in my heart to connect with love but… I need to find some kind of heartspace that holds all of that, because what is going on in my physical heart centre doesn’t necessarily always feel so good. I can widen the love-space to include my whole body and the space around me, too, and then I can let the love into that wounded place that I take to be what my heartspace *is*, this space at the centre of my chest that as well as being where my heart resides also seems to be the centre of my ego. I know the heart-space is much more expansive than this physical area at the centre of my chest where I feel so much pain but don’t know how to reframe it so that it is bigger than that and can hold it. Because the feelings there are so intense and because indeed so many really amazing ecstatic feelings and love also reside there, it is hard not to identify my heart with that, and yet I think it needs a reframe so I can feel myself as and in limitless heartspace that can easily transform and melt all this finite pain in a very specific part of my chest. When there’s so much other stuff there, it seems to take different instructions for me to connect deeply with ‘the heart,’ because simple awareness of what I so often *take* to be my heart can have this paradoxical effect of making me feel my constriction and ego and woundedness.

All of this stuff sometimes so clearly presents itself as my heart-centre that I take it to be my heart but, ah, it is often just painful and clogged-up stuff that is arising in that space. It is intense and it is in the heart so yeah I can be like ouch my heart but then it is hard to feel anything but the ouch. I think so much of what is going on is that I need to reframe not just what LOVE is but what the HEART is: where IS it, really? Because it is so easy for me to take this stuff that is not my heart, as my heart, and that’s where I get into depression and heaviness and despair rather than accessing love. Something about Danielle’s loving words, though, guide me into the space where I naturally feel love around and immediately remember how fun and liberating it is to do that… to walk around feeling love absolutely everywhere… and I think they guide me into a reframed idea of what my *heart* is, but I want to understand better: what is happening when I have this too small conception of my heart as all this pain and fear and woundedness and ego that seems to love to attach itself right to the centre of what I would call my heart-center? How do I then connect to my *real* heart center that is deeper than that and wider and more expansive than that so that whatever I am feeling in that centre that is painful can melt away into the love?

This feels related to an insight that I had once, when I was just discovering self-love after a long time of having so much trouble feeling that, where I discovered that often self-love for me has this feeling like it is shining into me from elsewhere in the universe, but I always thought that if I felt it, I would feel it radiating out from my physical heart-centre — but that has been the space of so much pain self-judgment and ego constriction so it would be pretty impossible for me to immediately access a sense of self-love from that space. It is finally opening up to… this non-dual oneness of love, that Danielle speaks about, and the energies that this talk guides me to access, that creates a huge immediate shift in me so that I remember what it is to love being loving when I so often forget and the reason I so often forget is because I identify my *heart* with the pain I feel in that part of my chest and I need to find ways to reframe my heart so it is so much bigger and not identified with that pain even though, when it is clear, the heart chakra really is an amazingly powerful centre for the experience of love. When you’ve got a lot of muck around it, though, it seems you’ve got to clear that out some other way, and because it’s not natural because of all the painful stuff around it I start to feel like I have to force it and that doesn’t work. So I think for me the most helpful thing has been some kind of powerful linguistic reframing and reprogramming around my idea of what the heart is so that it gets so much more expansive and exciting than what I take it to be, if that makes sense, because imagining it the way I often do as coming from this often very painful place in the centre of my chest feels, in so many ways, incredibly limiting.

I’ve been thinking that if I were to ask Danielle to riff on a topic, this might be it: I love this reframing of the concept of love in Danielle’s latest podcast episode, What It Really Means When We Say “I Love You” and Why Love is Not an Emotion… but I think for some reason, and I want to understand the mechanics of it all, what I also really need soooo much is a reframing of the concept of the heart: what the heart really is, where it really is, and what to do when the physical centre of the heart is condensed with so much pain and the very core of what you take to be your ego, as it so often seems to be with me. Not that I do not experience amazing beautiful things in my heartspace — that is what the heart is for — but the nature of my experience leads me almost by necessity to totally and ecstatically reframe my conception of what I take to be my heart. I love meditations where I am held IN heart, for example, where heartspace is this expansive infinity pervading through the universe… meditations where we connect with our hearts are only so powerful for me but the moment someone suggests, as it feels like Danielle did here whether she explicitly stated it, that our heart is more than what is going on in that space in my chest that it is *so* easy to define as my ‘heart’ though ever so limiting… the magic happens.

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