We have been contemplating the intelligence of the heart lately in our considerations here at Sunrise Ranch. I appreciate how a particular topic takes on life inside my own daily meditations, often popping up in that twilight state between morning dream time and the “up and at ‘em” time that follows. When in repose, feelings seem to hold more sway, and thoughts follow along with them.
I’m generally a thinking guy, as many have told me. So these months of appreciative attention to feelings has been very rewarding. I see now the truth within the idea that life energy enters us through our feelings first. We may not have names for those feelings until our mind latches onto it, rising from the subconscious. That proto-emotional energy flows through our personal karma and when it comes up from that maze of our wounded heart, it is colored with our history.
I sometimes think it would be interesting to visually track this process of primal energy, creative flow, and universal love coming into our consciousness from our non-verbal active heart feelings, then up to the amygdala, the fight or flight reptilian brain where all our childhood traumas of every severity start it bouncing around like a pinball. As it bounces, it tickles our endocrine system, spurting out hormones to activate our bodies and mobilize the forces. Then maybe it reaches the cortex and we become conscious of the intrusion of feelings tinted with doubt and fear. Maybe we give it a name—fear, anger—or plan a strategy of accusation, blame and criticism as part of our battle plan.
I’m trying to wake up earlier in the process. I enjoy the sense that I can stop the battle plan early on before the general has planned a counter attack, and I can stop the process long enough to appreciate the feeling itself and not the reaction to the feeling in my little conflict-oriented pinball game. After all, waking up—being mindful—by itself, slows down the reaction so there is a chance to feel the feeling as it flows through. I like what David Karchere said recently—that he wants to promote not just mindfulness, but “heartfulness.” How can we ever experience heartfulness if we don’t find stillness in our reactive mind long enough to experience our sense of being, to “be with it?” That flow of straight feeling energy coming into us before we have filtered it is a primal connection to all that is in our being.
So during one of my early morning twilight states recently, I pondered the beauty of the conscious breath as a bridge to being with my feelings as they arise. The conscious breath interrupts the pinball game happening inside the mental arcade; it lets the hormones settle long enough that we can apply that awakened mindfulness to see clearly the energy coming through to us from our heart, in all its colorful glory. It isn’t just saying “time-out!” to the drama, it is saying “time-in” to the feelings. I wrote down the poem below while enjoying this connection to feelings. Later, on reflection, I found it to be a useful practice to activate my heartfulness too.
Shine (a practice)
Take a breath, let it in, deeply and slowly in, all the way to the heart
It is life and the ever-possible
Breathe in and let these words become
Dropping on a warm sunlit stream
Lazily floating in the current, as clear crisp air fills each cell
Let the atmosphere penetrate into the center of being
Past the sentries who question and doubt such a thing
each tone echoed in the listening mind
Take a breath, let it all the way in,
And with it bring the one essential nutrient—light,
Light filling the heart core with molten warmth,
Joyously hot, passionate, blood
Let it drift through the arteries and recycle through the veins, yin and yang.
And then out as if the fibers of the body evaporate light-and-Love back into the sunlit air above this stream
Let it out to eternity where we live
In humble generosity exhale all the life you have received.
– Atom Terpening
Atom Terpening has over 30 years of experience as a software and database developer and project manager in the healthcare and non-profit, association-management industries. Most recently he worked as the Corporate Information Officer of a company, CMI, that manages membership and events for non-profit health care associations. Atom is a proud father of two grown children and a new granddaughter named Ziggy, and he has spent most of his adult life developing a practice of awakened consciousness through mindfulness, heartfulness and appreciation for the miracle of life.