Love is in the air, Happy Valentine's! Everywhere we see red hearts beaming from cards and boxes of chocolates. A red heart as the symbol of love is deeply entrenched in our collective psyche--a dozen roses do not have quite the same impact if they are yellow--but few people relate to this as the color of the blood pounding through us.
When we fall in love our heart flutters, beats loudly or leaps for joy; if we are rejected we are heartbroken. We are called "heartless" or "cold-hearted" when we show no care or love, "big-hearted" when we extend our concern to others; when someone becomes our heart's desire we have "heartfelt" feelings. We "take things to heart" when they are emotionally evocative, or "talk heart to heart" about deeply personal issues. We love someone "from the bottom of our heart", but are only "half-hearted" about something when we are not emotionally involved. In other words, the bodymind connection could not be clearer.
As the heart is the center of our feelings, when a heart is transplanted it can also transplant the donor's personal likes and dislikes. In Dying to Live: From Heart Transplant to Abundant Life, Gaea Shaw recounts how after a heart transplant she had a great longing to swim and eventually trained for the US Transplant Games and won a bunch of medals. Prior to the operation she had never been an athlete, but she had been given the heart of an avid swimmer.
In another case we heard of a middle-aged woman developed a love for football and beer, things she had never gone near prior to her operation. And yes, you guessed it, turns out the donor had been a football fanatic.
Love, the main emotional job of the heart, rarely flows smoothly. In one way or another we all experience childhood conflicts, abuse, hurt or loss, and if the pain is too big to deal with we lock it away inside. This serves to lock us out of our heart so that our ability to express our loving feelings is limited. If we become isolated from love we become mistrustful, uncaring, shallow, hateful, prejudiced and fearful.
In England, where Deb grew up, many boys are raised not to show their feelings but to appear brave and strong; as the saying goes, "brave boys don't cry." In adult life that can mean they are unable to express gentleness, caring or nurturing qualities. Fear closes our heart so we cannot feel love, as when we close our arms and we pull back in defense. Love comes from the open heart, when we open our arms wide to embrace another. To understand more, see Deb's book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind.
Learning to open the heart, to listen to, respect and trust what we feel, is one of life's most powerful teachings. For the heart is more than just the center of love, it is also the center of our being, the place we point to when we talk about ourselves. When we say, "you have touched my heart" we are really saying "you have touched the deepest part of my being." Giving to others is one of the quickest routes to opening our heart.
The Native Americans, when they first met the white man, are known to have said how strange it was as, "the white man thinks with his head instead of his heart." Now is the time to let your heart sing! To let it speak, share, and express its deepest feelings.
What does your heart say? Let us hear from you!
Ed and Deb Shapiro are authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. Deb is the author of the award-winning book Your Body Speaks Your Mind. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See their website: www.EdandDebShapiro.com