Connecting with the heart
My journey with finding health has been both an emotional and physical search for balance and well-being. By connecting with the food I eat, being involved and conscious of health decisions, making a commitment to a better life, understanding the wealth and benefits of my food, monitoring my body’s own mechanisms, and trying to create a balanced life involving natural foods, an active lifestyle, and finding personal meaning, I’ve been able to gain knowledge of these components contribute to my physical self and how this understanding of body preservation gives me a larger understanding, a sense of calm, energy, and confidence. (The picture to the left is from the artist Ronald D. Isom. Please check out his awesome existential/mind-body-soul drawings).
This is a lovely notion; but it also represents one of the primary conflicts in people (as a species) concerning balancing our physical and emotional selves and creating one balanced being out of two varying extremes. It is often difficult to find a comprehensive combination of our ‘animal’ and ‘intellectual’ self into one entity. Some people can focus too much on the intellectual or higher side of people and think of humans not as an animal but a part of a higher order. Others see only an animal, lacking purpose or meaning in their life. Humans are a unique species because we are the only biological animal that has this ability to reason and think abstractly and figuratively. While it is easy to recognize these two components it can often be difficult to combine them into one purpose.
The conflict of finding the balance between the 2 extremes have been discussed and studied by countless philosophers and psychologists, including Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Freud, Maslow, etc etc. and now, myself. This isn’t aimed to be a philosophy lesson on what it means to be human; my own understanding of the dilemma took years of studying (not to sound dramatic, but it kind of has) and my mastery of the animal/higher self is a central goal in becoming my optimal self–but admittedly hasn’t yet happened.
But this all leads up to an experience or sensation I’m beginning to have concerning that connection and finding that balance. Now to kind of jump to another subject, I’m going to describe my feeling of connectedness separate from my existential discussion on what it means to be human and hopefully connect all the dots later.
It started with a morning on the elliptical machine. It was 7:45am and I was working out early because it was the only time I would have for the day. After 15 minutes or so, I became very aware of my heart. I could FEEL my heart working, the blood pumping through it, the action, the energy, the benefit I was doing my body. I could recognize the cardiovascular benefits of the blood pumping through my heart and my veins, the adrenaline of having that energy wake me up in the morning, and the feeling of making my heart stronger. It was a powerful moment. Now, I’m always aware that exercise is good for my body. I work up a sweat, I feel my breath become rapid, maybe pain, etc. But this was all about my heart, my center, my holder of life and how important and involved my heart felt.
My next experience was the following day at yoga. I went excited as it is still my first week as a paying customer, but I was tired. At the beginning of class our instructor had us hold our hands in front of our heart and focus our energy on something we wanted to accomplish, allude, feel, etc. I held my hands and told myself I wanted to feel energy and revitalization, a new start for passion and energy even though it was Thursday: “rejuvenation and energy.” I repeated this to myself and then started my practice. At the end of class, our instructor told us to silently let out what we have gotten from the class into the room to share with others. I felt an extreme lightness, a happiness. I asked myself is this my rejuvenation? Yes, but it was also a feeling of love and readiness. And I felt it in the center of my chest…in my heart.
My last heart-warming experience comes when falling asleep that night. While laying on my side in a fetal-like position, I can hear my heart beating. Steady and alive. I recognize it and it beats a second faster, I take a deep breath, calming the recognition and it becomes slightly more silent. I am instinctively aware of my heart. And I picture it as the heart is, not a valentine shape cut out, but my gory, bloody heart, connected to veins and valves and all things biological–rhythmically beating and keeping me alive. Here was my center, the reason I am alive, pumping continuously for, hopefully, 100 years. If this gentle barely recognizable sound stops, I’m gone. Without it, this higher self contemplating the line (or beat) between life and death will be gone also.This heart is keeping my body (animal) alive, which is all I have to keeping the Self I know alive as well.
I then think about my heart and back to my recognition of the cardiovascular health I felt the morning before, and the loving sensation after yoga, which did yet another good thing for my body but also helped me feel connected to the world around me. I think: I need to keep this heart beating. This is my body and my life. I am responsible.
My body and my health are all I have. It is the center of all the other things I hold important: my family, my friends, creating experiences in this world. This recognition helps solidify my body as an instrument to my actions and feelings–a concept I have read about, known, and have experienced before, but hadn’t yet been solidified into daily life. In turn, I feel extremely more connected to my body, my life force, and my understanding of it all. I think about something that I’ve done that is ‘not so good for my life-source heart’ and I don’t want to do it again. I think about getting up in the morning and going to the gym, and I’m ready. I can’t say I won’t make mistakes by craving heart-disease causing food or skipping a workout. But I can say that these three experiences have made me feel more connected and more balanced in living the life I strive for. A grand step forward I believe…
While I write this heart-segment over several blogging session, I remain more aware of my source of life randomly. When walking the dog, sitting on my computer, eating a salad…. eating goldfish. My strive to create a balanced and healthy life for myself becomes even more of a natural decision and accepted as just how my life should be.
P.S. The “heart beet” picture is used because I own the t-shirt. Which, if you are interested, can be found at Foodtee.com