Updated: Jan 30
Our bodies are awesome and learning about how the body works fills me with wonder. For example, our heart is an incredible physical organ. A healthy heart can beat around 100,000 times a day and pump 2,000 gallons of blood around our body. It does all this without us thinking about it or telling it to. Another way of considering our heart is in the Hebrew translation of 'inner most being'. Lev means heart in Hebrew, and it wasn't a body part to the Israelites. They had a broader understanding of heart than we do in our modern context. They thought of the heart as the organ that gives physical life and the place where you think and make sense of the world—where you feel emotions and make choices.
When we consider our hearts in this way, it can open up a whole new way of seeing ourselves. Our hearts can be moved, toyed with, deceptive, true and broken. This inner most part of our true selves can also be hidden. There is a brilliant children's picture book by Oliver Jeffers that explores the idea of protecting our heart. We can sometimes hide our hearts away, wrap them up in cotton wool and put them out of reach, or in the case of Oliver's book keep them in a bottle. This is especially true if our hearts have been hurt or broken. We have a strong protection mechanism wired into us for our survival. In fact, our brains are so ancient, the survival instinct kicks in without us even having to think about it. It has served us well since the dawn of time, it is a good thing - it keeps us safe. However, it can sometimes override common sense and we can live in fear rather than fullness.
So how can we live more fully from our hearts? Here are a few ideas from my book Upward: The Power of Looking Up, which will be out in March 2022.
A grateful heart. Use gratitude to focus on the good in your life – no matter how small. Think on the things in your life that you are thankful for, this may be as simple as the roof above your head, the water you use to make your cup of tea or the breath in your lungs. You can even be grateful for your heart – that it works hard for you, pumping without you needed to tell it to. You may go further and decide to write these things down in a journal, daily or weekly.
A joyful heart. Consider the things you enjoy in your life – what brings a smile to your face, what lights you up inside? Also, consider those things that bring a frown, get you down or drain you of energy. You may want to write a list of joy bringers and joy takers. How can you focus on those things in your life that bring you joy? There is a saying that what you focus on grows – so, find ways to focus on the good in your life each day. Whilst we all must do things we don’t enjoy; how can you reframe these and bring a sense of enjoyment to them? For example, can you listen to your favourite music or podcast whilst doing chores, take the scenic route to work or donate to a food bank when you do your own groceries?
An awesome heart. Be curious, be filled with awe and wonder. Look up and around at the world in which you live, see the colours, details, and nuances of life. Again, use all your senses, tune into the vibrations of energy around you that show life in all its fullness. Do this daily, remind yourself to take time to be filled with awe, just as a child would be.
A tender heart. Compassion for yourself and others makes a world of difference to our well-being. Forgiveness can make us lighter. Love can heal hurts. Tenderness can sooth and soften even the hardest of hearts. Make compassion, forgiveness, love, and tenderness flags that you fly in your life. Let these characterise your life, your choices, and your relationships. And flags that fly high encourage others to look up too.
In my book I look more closely at our minds, bodies, heart and truth. I see all these as interconnected as they each affect the other. And, great news! -to celebrate the release of my book, I am creating and putting out a free self-led course covering the four elements of Being, Nature, Creativity and Belonging. If you subscribe to this blog, I will be sending the link out to you very soon. The course is a great way of learning more about yourself and who you are. I believe we do not need to find a new you, we just need a new outlook or perspective.
If the course is something you are interested in, you can always email me on here, comment below or DM me on Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter I love hearing your thoughts and am always grateful for your feedback and comments. Let's look up together!
Image via Unsplash