Is Your Heart In It?

regretI want to speak to the core of many issues of one’s life; that is, what is your heart telling you, and are you actually listening to it? Better yet, do you even know how to listen to your heart anymore? Has it not become lost in the quest for security and all of the advice that society or our elders give us? These questions are tough to swallow, especially for people who are in similar situations as I – students who are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain an education, wondering if their heart isn’t taking them in a different direction. This then evokes the “sunk cost fallacy” in which said student continues the education regardless of what other (beautiful) options come his or her way because the payments have been made and too much capital has already been invested. It’s a messy situation.

Allow me to pose the problem thusly: Western society in particular is filled with distractions and (false) promises of success and external rewards. The hope is that these rewards will replace true inner happiness so you can become a better slave to the economic machine. The nine-to-fivers across the country, bored stiff, have effectively cut off the connection between their hearts and their minds. They think all day, produce all day, and then sleep and repeat. But their actions and the things they produce are meaningless because they lack the necessary ingredient that enables them to engage with the world – love. Furthermore, they’re either too brainwashed to heed one’s advice to restore that connection, or they’re too lackluster, in which case they know they “should listen to their heart” but they won’t because they are dependent on the financial security provided for them by the economic machine and it’s simply easier to stay put, requiring less effort. It’s a trap, and a damn good one too, if you’re not rooted firmly in who you are as a human being.

The essence of who you are – your identity – lies within you, dormant, asleep. It’s called your heart, and many of us experience it as the “small, still voice” that speaks to them when they’re alone. Others label it as a “calling” to a certain way of being. To find the small still voice, you need to remove all distraction from your life. Television, video games, media, etc. Get that shit out of your head, because it’s only going to slowly deteriorate your brain and lead your heart astray by keeping it focused on unnecessary bullshit. One of the easiest ways to still your life is to sit somewhere in a quiet place, and simply be in and with the moments as they pass you by. Breathe calmly, and simply watch as thoughts come and go. Do not attach yourself to your thoughts, keep your distance from them and simply note that they are there. One of the reasons why we have lost our connection with our hearts is because we live in a very instant-gratification culture that binds our hearts and minds to objects in the external world through immediately satisfying our wants and needs. You have to take the time out of your day to focus on what’s occurring inside of you. Again, it’s all about introspection, guys.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’ll find sitting for extended periods to be very difficult. Do what I do – meditate by going for a walk. Given that it’s freezing outside right now (in Michigan at least), maybe pacing around the house is a better option. But if you love the cold, be my guest and go out for a walk! This is the perfect way to meditate because it literally takes you out a distracting environment and forces you to be with yourself. Embrace the experience of feeling your body and your heart. Feel all the tension in your body that you’ve been too distracted to notice before. Release that tension by relaxing your body as you walk or as you sit.

Importantly, you must silence your mind. All of these thoughts are going to come up because your brain will invent its own way of distracting you from being with yourself. Again, let the thoughts be, don’t interact with them. Pretend that each thought you have is just a passer-by in a sea of strangers who you’ve never met before. You’re walking on a busy street in New York and you don’t have time to talk to every single person, do you? Didn’t think so. Quietly look them in the eye and move on, and try not to ask yourself any questions as you go along. Now if you do this for a long enough period of time, you will see a pattern in your thoughts. Some particular thing or even a few things will repeat themselves, and they will most likely not be related to anything you’re doing at work or at school. As the weeks progress, pay attention to these particular thoughts – but no others. These thoughts have become like a very beautiful woman or a handsome man who happens to take the same bus route to work as you do, and you’re just now beginning to notice them.

Become aware of how these thoughts pull at you. They may even make you say, “I wish I could drop everything and do that”. When you hear yourself saying that, it’s time to make changes in your life to support the progressive realization of your dream (i.e., the gradual process whereby you make changes in your life to work toward that thing you want to do). This is no easy journey by any stretch of the imagination because you have no idea where it will take you. People will initially resist you if this change entails a change in your values and attitudes toward life. You will also come up with all the excuses in the world not to do the thing you want to do, because it’s easier to just keep on doing what you’re currently doing. Nevertheless, once you realize that happiness is internally derived, you will be able to prioritize your heart in your life again, as well all did in childhood. It is a jungle out there, but you are well-equipped. Your heart is the sharpest machete you’ll ever need to cut down any obstacle.

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