All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. For instance, Tom in this story does not resemble anyone you have ever known or will know—in the past, in the present, or in the future on earth or on any of the seventeen known spiritual planes. And no one but a fictitious character would put up with someone like me being so damned Yoda as I was in this story. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. Besides which, it has to be fictional because I’m not a video camera.
Most of the Joyful Wisdom energy meditations start with the heart chakra, which may confuse you. After all, we have at least seven chakras or energy centers in our bodies, each of which addresses a different type of situation. Why do we emphasize the heart, you might wonder, when the others are just as important?
After my last workshop, I discussed this question with an attendee named Tom when he challenged me about it.
“Which chakra is going to help me pay my bills or get a better job?” Tom demanded. “If I’m interested in more sex, wouldn’t I want to focus on a chakra that’s lower than my heart? What if I’m so pissed off that I want to kick someone? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use my big toe chakra?”
Our Social Natures and the Heart
I decided to take on Tom, and I took a deep breath. “All of these situations involve other people,” I explained, “which is what makes the heart chakra relevant for all of them. By focusing on the heart chakra, you can transform all the negative energy in those situations into more positive, constructive energy, and focus on solutions.”
“I get it,” he said, “Then, after you’ve gained everyone’s trust, you can return to peddling all the other nonsense you push.”
“That’s not quite what I meant,” I said. “See, we all focus on other people most of the time—that’s how we live our lives. We crave social contact almost every single day. How many days do you go when you don’t check your email, make phone calls, or in some other way visit with other people? Even when these encounters are casual, they serve a deep-felt inner need that is so profound that almost everyone reaches out over and over every day.”
“Yeah, well sometimes people only talk to you as an excuse not to do the dishes,” he grumped.
“I think I understand where you’re coming from,” I said. “I think you just don’t like to admit that you’re as dependent on other people as everyone else is in our world. You were raised to always try to be self-reliant and independent. You want everyone to think that you’re completely autonomous, liberated, unconventional, and in charge of your own life.”
“I don’t think you understand me at all,” he said. “I’m very careful not to take personal responsibility too far. I still need to be able to find excuses not to do the dishes.”
Chop Wood, Carry Water
That was worth a chuckle, but I thought we were too far off the topic of the heart chakra. “Listen,” I said, a little more aggressively. “I think you’re probably the kind of guy who is highly aware of all of the misunderstandings, injustice, distrust, lying, general creepiness, inauthenticity, discomfort, and anger in so many of our relationships.”
Tom started to respond, but he stopped himself. He seemed to be confused as to whether he should be offended or consider this a compliment.
To confuse him even more, I gave him a broad smile and continued. “We’re always aware in the moment of what happens to piss us off, right?” I asked. He nodded suspiciously. “But sometimes our reactions are rooted in the past.
“So in the workshop, I suggested activating your heart chakra and sending the energy to people around you as a regular practice. Sometimes your meditation will simply alleviate your own mood, and sometimes your energy will get through to the other person and lighten their state of mind. When you’re good at it, your meditations will help both your state of mind and the other persons’.”
Tom was actually listening, or so it seemed. He was nodding, and there was a strange sense of pain behind his eyes. Can’t have that.
“The bad news with your heart chakra,” I said, “you eventually still have to do those damn dishes.”
Tom continued to nod, but in spite of himself, he smiled. “So you’re saying that no matter how irritating or infuriating or insulting the situation, I should just breathe energy into my heart, and then send some of that energy to the person who hates me.”
“If you ever looked at any of the major religions,” I answered, “You’ll recognize the truth that you just repeated right now. Like when Jesus said to turn the other cheek and to bless them that curse us. You’re being a Holy Man, Tom.”
“Right,” said Tom, pretending not to be amused. “Of course, Jesus never met the asshole who cut me off on the freeway today.”
This conversation was fun. I realized that for the duration, I was cast in the role of Yoda.
“I’m not saying to use the heart chakra to wipe out your actual feelings,” I said. “If you’re mad, just be mad. If you’re hurt, just be hurt. Don’t ever be false when you use your heart chakra, because it won’t work. You’ll end up even more divided, and people may doubt your sincerity.
“I wouldn’t want to be too successful, anyway,” he answered. “It would make me sound too spiritual to get laid. It probably already does that for you,” he growled.
Shut up, Tom, I thought.
How Do You Locate and Activate Your Heart Chakra?
“Okay, assuming that I might be interested,” he said, “how do I go about using this heart chakra of yours?”
“No, yours,” I said. “You’ll be using yours. Everyone has experienced their heart chakras at some point in their lives. Some people first notice their heart chakras as that warm sensation that they feel in the middle of their chests when they hold a baby to their hearts.”
He looked at me seriously. “That assumes that the diaper’s been changed, right?”
“Or the warm feeling in your chest that you feel when you first fall in love.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” he said. “But that sensation’s not in my chest!”
“So to do this, you need to search your memory for a time when you felt your heart chakra naturally,” I continued. “There’s no pill, no subliminal background music, and no drive-through window on the way to work where you can add heart chakra energy to your coffee.”
“That’s why this crap will never succeed—there’s no money in it,” he said.
But I was on a Yoda roll. “You don’t need to go anywhere, spend anything, or locate a meditation mp3,” I waxed rhapsodically. “You don’t need to deal with upsetting topics or dig into half buried traumas to energize the heart chakra. You just need to turn your attention to the heart, breathe several deep, slow breaths, and consciously send energy into it. And voila, you’ve got a chest full of energy.
“Once you’ve filled yourself with heart energy, you can do things with it—almost magical things. You can send some of it to someone else, giving them an energy or mood boost and potentially improving your relationship with them. You can use the energy to evolve yourself into a higher level or to empower a prayer, a plan, or a visualization for the future.
“You can also use this energy to reach out and connect in with the network of life throughout the world. This can lead to transcendent experiences like feeling that you’re one with all that is, or perhaps creating a sense of inner peace in the face of adversity.”
“I’d never have time for it,” Tom said. “I’m usually too busy trying to win another game of solitaire.”
“I thought you wanted me to tell you this.”
“Oh, I do,” he answered. “It’s boring not to have someone to ridicule. So, go on. Go on.”
In the chess game of our conversation, he had just taken my bishop, and he was threatening checkmate. Unfortunately, I was locked into being Yoda. In the game of chess, the Yoda piece can only move by using its mind.
“You can learn to use your heart chakra by practicing the Fundamental Skills Routine,” I said, repeating key points from what I had said in my workshop. “Repeat the routine three times in the morning. This only takes seven or eight minutes. It involves energizing your heart, and then using the energy in a variety of ways. You can actually feel that energy flowing when you use it.
“We also teach the heart chakra in our Fundamental Skills Workshop and all of our groups through a heart chakra meditation that generates lots of energy—energy that we then use throughout the group session.
“Other ways to stimulate the heart chakra include the Yoga Poses of the Cobra, the Camel, and the Forward Bend. Or you can simply practice loving your family, your friends, and your enemies—and enhancing your practice through prayer, meditation, and breathing.
“However, even if you mostly hate other people,” I said, intentionally making it sound like it was about him, “there’s always your dog. Practice with your dog.”
Why Should We Activate Our Hearts?
“If you get good at it, not only does your heart energy influence other people directly on the spiritual level, but it also changes your attitudes and the way you act toward other people. When you run into someone who is reactive and angry, you’ll be kinder and less quick to judge. When a friend talks to you about problems and their deepest fears, you be more open and a better listener.”
“That would freak out every single one of my friends,” he responded.
“Then don’t use it with your friends,” I said, becoming more impatient than Yoda ever would. “Use it whenever something upsetting happens. Like if someone betrays you or commits an injustice, stop yourself from automatically reacting and first send some heart chakra energy to them.”
Tom looked even more suspicious than ever. But then, suddenly, I had an idea for taking his queen chess piece. “Just take a little extra time to do this,” I said. “It will allow you to be more detached, more impartial, more loving, and more thoughtful—and when you’ve achieved that highly evolved mental state, you’ll be more able to strategically plot how to get your revenge without serving jail time.”
Nailed him. He knew it. Checkmate.
He conceded defeat by summarizing what I had said: “So it’s worthwhile to focus my chi energy practice almost exclusively on the heart chakra. Not only are we deeply connected with other people throughout our lives, but most people have already experienced the heart chakra through their normal daily relationships. It’s really the chakra that’s most relevant to the largest parts of our lives.”
“Correct,” I said, and I held his gaze.
He nodded. “But I do have another question.”
Sending Heart Chakra Energy Is Not Enough
“This is all stuff you do in your head. How’s that not just another pile of BS? Don’t you have to do something in the real world?”
“There are compatible practices that go in the same direction as heart chakra meditations,” I said, “but they are different practices. You have to learn them separately.”
“Many people have also learned to listen to other people better by repeating back what they’ve heard and asking if they heard correctly. It’s called “reflective listening” because you try to be a mirror until the other person feels heard.
“When other people feel heard, it builds rapport and smooths out disagreements. This reflective listening practice is especially useful when there’s discord. If you can make an angry person feel heard, it causes actual change that you can see.”
“Sounds like a great idea,” he said. “And in the end, if you listen deeply and understand the person perfectly—and yet it doesn’t work, with all that new information, at least you’re pre-armed, locked, and loaded.”
Checkmate, again. I didn’t expect that.
(If you didn’t like this blog, don’t you dare share it.
(I write humorous blogs to call attention to our weekly Joyful Wisdom Groups on Skype. We become family to one another through meditation, deep sharing about weekly exercises, and heart-based activities. These small groups are free, but most people who experience them want to support our work with donations.)
Joyful Wisdom is not the only group that focuses heavily on the energy of the heart. The HeartMath Institute promotes the use of heart energy to develop higher levels of heart coherence—which they can measure physically and study scientifically. According to Heartmath Institute, enhanced levels of heart coherence increases emotional balance, heart connections with others, reduces stress, and shifts the energy of the planet.