When your head and heart are lined up and going in the same direction, you gain the favor of grace. Your heart awakens and you return home to your center. You have coherence and resonance with the universe. The Heart Math Solution talks about aligning with your heart to get all your systems online, in harmony, and in coherence, where all parts – body, mind, and heart, talk to each other.
But most of the time the mind is going in one direction and the heart is going in another, which places the burden on your body. The body is the repository of the split between head and heart. You may have the desire to express yourself as an artist, musician, or writer, but you don’t follow through because you’re full of self-doubt, insecurity, or fear of failing. The desire to express yourself and create comes from your heart. But your head tells you that you can’t do it. You’re not enough. You’ll never be able to support yourself. It’s not the right time. You’re not talented enough. You will fail. Out of fear, you lose steam and never really fulfill your dreams or your life’s purpose. You end up dying with a dream unfulfilled.
The head represents our need for certainty. Certainty is a necessary “vitamin” of the psyche because if fulfills our survival needs to have shelter, food, and clothing. But too much certainty can lead to monotony and predictability. Every day is the same. Soon boredom, restlessness, and negativity creeps in.
The heart represents uncertainty. For your creative juices to flow, to reach for new ideas, and new passions, uncertainty is needed. Uncertainty represents the unknown and is another kind of “vitamin” necessary for maintaining the wonder of life. The heart thrives on exploring new things, new places, and having adventures. Uncertainty provides the vitamin of stimulation that keeps the brain healthy and helps maintain passion and a sense of purpose in life.
Shanta and Srngara
In Tantra, the term “Shanta” is one of the nine Rasas (divine tastes, flavors, the “juice” of life) and refers to the quality of peacefulness. Within peacefulness is steadiness, safety, certainty, and patience. The term, “Srngara” means passion, love, or excitement. It also means eros, which in this context is our capacity for full absorption into ecstatic states of consciousness. When Srngara is present, you are completely aligned with your heart’s desire and purpose in your life in that moment. It’s a state of total flow without obstacles.
Shanta and Srngara are intimately linked. When you access deep states of Shanta or peace, through meditation for example, you penetrate to the core of your being where you experience a kind of energetic ecstasy. When you experience Srngara or passion, especially in the form of eros, you need to be completely relaxed. In the presence of stress or fear, eros goes away. But with Shanta, in the form of deep relaxation, your natural state of Srngara comes alive.
Throughout my travels, I see so many people stuck in their head. Especially in airports, everyone walks with the posture I call, “device-head”. I’m not sure why there’s not more collisions in airports or on the sidewalks for that matter. In addition to living in the digital age, people typically have their heads forward to see what’s in front of them. This is a survival instinct. But could it also be about fear and lack of trust?
If you’re not connected to the bigger energy, then out of fear, you will need to protect yourself. If you believe that life is happening to you, a state of victimhood, then you have to be on guard to prevent the possibility of being sabotaged. But when you trust in a bigger energy and embrace the seat of your heart, your head and heart can work together. They make an excellent team we can’t do without. But their relationship needs to be cultivated.
A few weeks ago, on the last morning of a training, I taught on the topic of the head and heart and our need for both certainty and uncertainty. Later that afternoon at home I had an amazing opportunity to practice what I preached. On a whim, spur of the moment (which doesn’t happen that often with me), I asked Ann if she wanted to go see the movie, La La Land. She said, “Yes”. I had no idea where the movie was playing. We searched the web and discovered that the closest cinema was 50 minutes away in Albany at the Spectrum 8 Theatres, which we had never been to. As we jumped into the car, Ann said, “Can we stop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods in Albany? I have some returns to do.” I said, “Fine if the timing works out.” As we began driving, Ann realized she left her glasses at her Mom’s house in Lenox. So, we made a “yewey” and headed to her Mom’s. This messed up our timing a bit, so Ann said, “Let’s skip Trader Joes since we don’t have time now. But we could go to Whole Foods after the movie since they stay open until 10 p.m.” “Okay. Fine”, I said.
Using Waze, our faithful navigation app, we arrived at the theatre 30 minutes early. One good thing about being this early is that usually you get the best parking spot. We parked right in front of the theatre and then looked at each other and said, “Now what? We have 30 minutes to use up.” We spotted a little cafe next to the theatre so we went in. We overheard a conversation between the staff behind the counter about the health benefits of running intervals. They were young and enthusiastic and Ann and I chimed right in asking them questions about where they run and why. We had a very warm and inspiring conversation about the health benefits of running. It was as if we had known each other for years, like talking to old friends. I noticed the effortless flow of our conversation which was swift, natural, full of humor, and very enjoyable. Then I realized and said to myself, “Oh yeah, I’m here just killing time. I’m not on a schedule. Nowhere to be. Nothing to do (except go to the movie in 30 minutes).”
We were in the flow of life without any time pressures. Then, because the staff were so friendly, we decided to order some food. We had an excellent dinner. It was simple, healthy, and satisfying. Then we went into the movie theatre and enjoyed the show. After the movie, we put on Waze again to get us to Whole Foods. We had never driven through the center of downtown Albany before. It was great to see what’s there and just being in a city of cement was so different than our usual landscape of Berkshire country terrain. We arrived at Whole Foods and made our returns with the least of effort and got a refund card. We bought a few things with the card and headed home.
All in all, it was such an enjoyable evening. It was a spontaneous “date – dinner and movie”, with my wife where I had no time pressures, nothing was at stake. I was in the effect of achieving heart/mind coherence which allowed me to flow with the twists and turns of the evening events without any resistance.
Yoga is our capacity to consciously create environments where we thrive and grow our consciousness. I urge you to create a spontaneous date or adventure and see how this allows you to return to your heart where you are more in the flow of life rather than worrying and stressing about trying to control everything.
One of most valuable lessons I’ve had in life, particularly regarding relationship, but this applies to all of life, is that we are powerless to change anyone else. Admitting this powerlessness, paradoxically, gives you power. Once you realize what you can and can’t change, you stop trying to change the unchangeable and accept it. Now you have more energy to apply to the things you can change, like yourself and the environments you choose to surround yourself in.
Learning how to find the balance between certainty and uncertainty allows you to back off your head, the need to always know before you act, and amplify your heart, the place where you discover your passion and what lights you up in life.
Years ago, when I switched from studying classical piano to jazz, I followed my heart and my passion. I was in bliss all the time. I loved being absorbed in jazz day and night. But after a couple of years of playing in smoky jazz clubs and staying up into the wee hours of the morning, my body began to break down. My head came in and told my heart that it could not sustain this toxic lifestyle for much longer. That’s when I found yoga. Yoga was instrumental in bringing about a newfound balance between head and heart. Instead of dealing with the unhealthy environment of jazz, as well as, the continuous “cut-throat” competition of the music profession, I found the profound inner peace and joy of yoga.
What I realized is that the head and heart will play ‘leap frog’ throughout life. Sometimes your heart leads and other times your head leads. You may move in the direction of your heart’s desire and then find out later that that lifestyle doesn’t work for your body. The head will recognize if the heart’s desire is really a healthy desire or not.
In yoga, I’ve been able to find a harmonious balance of head and heart. It’s still an ongoing exploration, which is a good thing. Because if it ever became predictable and controllable, it would lack the important vitamin of uncertainty. As Douglas Brooks’ teacher, Gopala Aiyer Sundarmoorthy, said, “Certainty is the most certain uncertainty there is.”
May you find new adventures in life and remember to keep it light. Join me for more insights and explorations into the unknown and spontaneous by coming to a workshop or training. I’m teaching many interesting and new workshops designed to support you in creating a balanced life of head and heart, peace and passion, certainty and uncertainty!