The first time my heart blew open I was in the Austin DMV. In this utilitarian and emotionally stale place, I was suddenly in Love, in touch with a different experience of the world around me, one that scintillated with Light and vibrated with Joy. It seemed an odd place to have a transcendent experience, but there it was, a gift from Spirit, a taste of another way of being.
The body that experienced that afternoon is the same one that at other times experiences hunger, pain, or the soothing touch of my beloved. It is the same body that experiences fear, anger and sadness and all the other emotions. As humans we experience a great deal through our body, but not all of these experiences are on the same level.
Our body/being is comprised of physical, emotional and mental aspects. These are integrated layers. The bio-chemistry of emotions and thoughts is similar and intertwined. The pain of physical injury is magnified by our emotional and mental reactions. Thoughts stimulate emotions, and the other way around. The body not only experiences, but also stores and associates the different levels.
This same instrument also expresses and experiences our spiritual Self, the transcendent states of Joy, Love, Spaciousness, Deep ease, Connection and more. Learning to be aware of the body is necessary to being aware of spiritual states of being. However when our body is full of pain, grief, or other old patterns, these color or even overwhelm new experience, especially the subtler vibrations of our Spirit.
In order to live from our Spiritual self we must learn to distinguish the states of being that are the Soul from the physical and emotional sensations of the body. Just as we may confuse the experience of hunger with the experience of emotions felt in our belly, we can confuse excitement and Joy. The former is an emotion related to fear, the later is a expression of our Soul.
It is hard to feel strong emotion and be aware of a spiritual state at the same time. The more we get to know our emotions and come into a positive relationship with them, the less we identify with them, the less we are caught up in reacting to them. There begins to be space for us to experience the spiritual states of our Being. Experiencing these states we can cultivate them, tune to and embody them more consistently. This is part of awakening, learning to discriminate how the various levels of our whole being manifest in and through the body. Knowing these differences we can choose which to give our attention to, and therefore which ones we are mostly experiencing.
Our body/being can create new habits experiencing and expressing the Love and Joy that we are. Knowing these states and focusing on them, the physical and emotional sensations and feelings become less insistent, less engaging and distracting. Letting human emotions flow like the weather in the background, our main awareness remains centered in the spacious peace and deep certainty of our Spiritual Being.
With practice we can experience the opening of the heart in Joy and Love more often and more consciously, cultivating a new way of Being in the world, a new way of experiencing our Self and our Life.