Follow the Heart
Regardless of whether you acknowledge the spiritual or not, regardless of whether or not you believe in chakras and bio-energy fields, the one force that remains undeniable is Love. And the one location that we associate with Love is undeniably the heart. Examine our willing use of the word heart and you'll be hard pressed to find someone that says Love doesn't exist. The fact that the purpose, importance and value of Love pervades all of humanity without regard to religion or education is just some of the evidence that Love is the central force that moves all things.
When we think of the Heart we think of Love. Initially we equate Love to feelings of passion, a sense of belonging, a sense of feeling purpose and importance to other people. I've mentioned how the gut seems to be the predominant sensation of the soul. However, the heart is without doubt the wellspring of creativity that feeds the soul. It is the source of nurturing and warmth that encourages the soul to express its identity fully, by daring you to face your fears and pains. If there ever was a "driver's seat" that should be steering your soul then the heart is the "driver's seat" of the soul.
If there ever was one concept that would never steer you wrong, it would be: "Follow Your Heart" True, at times following your heart may seem reckless and may result in some embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. However, following your heart is not about being comfortable and not about getting approval. It's about achieving all your dreams and fantasies. It's about finding and living in your life's passion. It's about truly feeling alive and courageous.
However, since I mention concepts of energy chakras, the mind, the body, the spirit and the soul, where does the heart fit in? As mentioned in Feed the Soul, the central area where the soul most resonates with, is the 3rd chakra or the gut region. The 3rd chakra is very much a collection of characteristics that make you unique. It is the center of self-esteem, intuition and integrity. And whenever you feel yourself threatened, violated, or insulted, then you feel the physical effects from here. But ultimately whenever you feel psychologically hurt from a violation of your identity it is the same as saying it's your ego that has been bruised. Therefore, the 3rd chakra is where your soul predominates and is also where your ego exists.
The ego is about everything you think you are and what you think other people think about you. The ego can make you show off to make you appear greater than you feel you are. However, ego can also lead you to act shy and timid because then you can hide behind a stereotype and label. Under a guise of weakness you feel like people will expect less from you. Because if they expected more then you'd be pressured to do more and you might disappoint them and expose who you really are as a person.
Ego is about protecting and hiding. Some egos protect with an aggressive approach. Other egos protect with a more defensive pose. But in the end when you think you have no ego, ask yourself if there's anything anyone could say or do that would hurt you psychologically. Can people push some buttons on you that will trigger anger or extreme shyness? Are you courageous enough to try something that will risk criticism from those you love? If you don't like criticism, if you still experience hurt, then you have an ego.
Self-Esteem and Ego
Therefore, if the 3rd chakra is your ego and the ego is the source of your psychological pains, then how can you release the ego? The difficulty in this is that at the core the ego is really your identity. If you release the ego totally, you will lose yourself totally. You will lose what it is that you believe makes you special. You will lose all that you've worked hard to achieve. As much as you may want to deny this, letting go of your ego is a terrifying prospect.
The guide, courage, and strength to release your ego and surrender your identity will come from the heart. But understand the heart isn't something that you can demand courage from if you've often ignored your heart on prior occasions. If you have gotten out of touch with your heart, then often the best you can do in the face of fear is try to pretend it's not there. If you are in touch with the heart then more and more your fears will lose their meaning and dissipate. Strengthening the connection to the heart comes by faithfully listening and following your heart and not ignoring or dismissing it.
The first place to start with the heart is to love yourself. Many of us including myself grew up believing that loving yourself was being selfish. There is this misconception that the opposite of being selfish is being selfless. That is giving unceasingly even at the expense of your own happiness. The eternal living martyr, living in misery, always sacrificing, and often bitter: this is the image of selfless love. However, the truth of the matter is that one who tries to give out love from a selfless stand point will secretly undermine their acts of giving with bitter comments behind your back, or under their breath, or in the bitterness in their eyes. The bottom line is that selfless giving makes you feel worse and makes you feel like everyone who is happy is selfish and that to be miserable is the ultimate in love. Understand that your capacity to love others is limited by your capacity to love yourself.
Have you ever witnessed people who give of themselves, and they actually become happier for giving? As a selfless kind of person, when I saw such people, I found them hard to believe. "How could that person be really happier for giving more? I think he's just faking it so that he looks like a saint and gets to be on TV and gets lots of fame and fortune." I was jealous. "Why can't I be that way? Why can't I be so big of a person, and do it naturally, and do it for pleasure?" Believe it or not, I learned the answer to becoming one of those truly big and great people that gives and gets pleasure out of giving is to start with loving yourself.
A good starting point to loving yourself is to love your gut region. Your gut region is where you will feel tightness when you're insecure and feel small. Find ways to praise yourself for all that you've done and tried. Love yourself enough to dare and do something gracious for another person, no matter how small. And when you do it, no matter how small the deed, praise yourself for taking that risk. Don't adopt the attitude that you should do a good deed because you ought to or to satisfy a guilt; Adopt the attitude you should do a good deed because you deserve to; you've earned the right and honor to give; you're good enough to be generous. Don't give because you want to be great, give because you already are great. Feed yourself properly not because people say it's good for you or because you want to look sexy. Feed yourself properly because you love yourself, and you deserve to be treated with the best diet. Deliver yourself compassion and praise. Then offer your self-esteem a chance to let go and trust. Practice this and bit-by-bit you will lose your ego and find more of yourself in others. You will naturally become one of those few precious gems of people with huge hearts that you used to envy. You will learn how to be an unconditional lover and you will feel from your heart when you should give something to others and when you should give something to yourself.
Another avenue to growing your heart is being willling to let go of money. Being willing to help those in need. Learning about the pleasures of being giving. How much do you donate to charities? Click Here to read more