Have you ever been told to get out of your head? If you are like me, and many others in raised modern western culture, you have probably heard this request quite a few times. Perhaps, like me, you have spent time and energy trying to get out of your head, or found your self confused about what that actually meant.
The fundamental truth is that you have to spend time cultivating another space to go to, before you can really get out of your head. Thinking about getting out of your head, or trying to figure out how to get out of your head may take up time, but is only a first step. As long as you are thinking about things, you are still in your head. The mind has the ability to follow your attention into your heart, or your belly, or your toes. In fact as long as it is your mental attention that you are using, it goes wherever you do. The mind is so very good at tagging along, at figuring out a plausible experience and then creating it for you.
Now, some of you are more at home in your emotions and so do not have to work to get out of your head. You may have been told that you are too emotional and to please turn them down, or off. Your emotions are not the same as your heart, so you also may benefit from cultivating your heart space. This may sound strange at first, but the heart I speak of is a different space than the emotional body. It is a place of feeling, but a different level of feeling than the emotions. Just as the thoughts swirl about us and lead us all over the place, so too the emotions swirl through the body and lead us this way and that. The heart is an eye of calm at the center of both these storms. You will have your own journey, perhaps easier as you are more used to feeling, and perhaps more challenging as you have to learn to distinguish things that are more similar. But, someone else must write that story.
In cultivating your heart it is important to find a doorway. For me at first it was nature, but it could be music, sports, a child, or a pet, anything that brings you joy. Joy is the feeling of the heart, and will be your guide. Start with the easy and obvious, however silly or strange it may seems to your mind. You are nurturing a relationship with your own soul energy. Over time you will come into heart relationship with more and more of your world.
To stand facing a mountain and notice what I feel in my heart was a starting place. To let go of words, thoughts, emotions, expectations, and just notice what was there. To notice what my heart felt faced with the mountain, and what feeling might be coming from the mountain to my heart. As all mountains are different, there can be no expectations, which makes it easier, as there is nothing for the mind to fake, or for the emotional body to react to. For you it might be the ocean, or a stream or trees. Whatever talks to you. Whatever you can open your heart too, without fear and without expectation or need.
Most of us are used to focusing on our eyes, and sight. Try sometime standing in nature and close your eyes, and tune into your other senses. If you are like me it may be easier to let go the mind when you do this, as so much of our mind is usually associated with sight. Also set the intention of letting the sensory input run through your heart, not into your brain. Let your heart hear, smell, feel. Then open your eyes and let the heart see.
Your heart is naturally a vast country, capable of connecting to the whole universe. It is a country naturally full of unconditional love, for yourself and for everything else. This is because you are fundamentally unconditional love, until it becomes conditioned by the human experience, by the mind and the emotional body. As you create resources and cultivate love in your heart, bring this first to those things that are lodged there, the boxes piled in the corner, or the panels that make up the walls. This is how you heal yourself and open more space to be present.
The journey of exploring your heart and learning how to be there and live from there is ongoing. But with practice it gets easier to center deeply into it when you choose and leave most of your thoughts and emotions outside. Even when it is hard to let go, you will know your heart is there and remember the little things that help you access it again. You are creating a new home to live in, a place to rest, to soothe the anxiousness of the mind or the agitation of the emotions, in the love and joy of your own heart.
Enjoy your practice.