Expanding our heartful awareness each day..
Once we wake up each morning we become aware suddenly of the world around us. We have been given a tool like a torch to focus our awareness. We can direct our intentions or interest onto anything within our environment. It could be the outside environment of the place or space in which we happen to be. It could be the inside environment of thoughts, memories, emotions and physical sensations. Usually our beam of awareness is a mix of these. Sometimes it roams completely freely. Sometimes it is focused by strong emotions or the need to complete a task or perhaps we are just completely absorbed in enjoyment.
The word consciousness has been used to describe all this. It can vary all the time. Obviously when we go to sleep, it is a special state of consciousness where our waking awareness is not there. When we are born our awareness as babies is more diffuse and gradually it sharpens, deepens and widens as we grow up. As mature adults we are expected to have in our awareness the needs and situations of others as well as ourselves. We have in our awareness the capacity to understand how our world works, to make decisions and plans, and to cope with challenge and adversity. In our westernised society we are expected to cope with life as independent individuals and to be separate from others. At the same time, we want to find a partner, we want to feel part of a caring family or community of friends. All of this may require us to use our thinking quite a lot to manage uncertainties, possibilities and attempt to feel as if we are in control of what happens in our lives. It can also create a feeling of of pressure with limited resources among us all. Sometimes, we can feel as if we are living in a frantic tangled heap of thoughts and anxieties as we try to manage demanding days and situations. It is hard to be aware of anything beyond this.
Heartfulness is inviting us to explore a different direction. First, we are invited to remember how we are always dwelling within a sensitive field of awareness in our bodies. Relaxation is a way of sinking back into this sense of contact and connection with our bodies and the ground under our feet that is always supporting us, carrying our weight, holding us up. Usually when we have relaxed back down into ourselves, we feel more at home and simple. We might suddenly also discover that we are very tired or have emotional residues or physical discomfort hanging about our awareness.
When we try Heartfulness meditation, it is as if we move through layers of emotional and physical experiences. We aim to point our awareness towards the place in our chests where we find our heart. This is where we point, when we say I or me.
We may feel our heart from inside, perhaps as a warmer or heavier or more alive site in our chest. As we begin to find this heart, we have the thought that there is a source of light already present there. This is our arrival point. We can simply say the words with our mind, have the thought without needing to try and picture anything. That source of light is already present inside my heart.
With that assurance to ourselves, we try to rest our awareness more steadily within that thought. We stay there even though our thoughts and ideas may flicker around. We let the thought of the source of light sink deeper. We can stop here and wait and let a kind of echo of that idea keep expanding and feeling more. Each of us will notice this in our own way.
Even if random ideas, memories and plans flash up in our mental landscape, still we can keep in the centre this notion that there is a source of light already inside me, within my heart, and it is at a deeper level of knowing or feeling. It can feel vague but yet calls silently. We can rest in this thought/feeling and we can discover something. It could be peaceful. It could be softness. It could be freeing and lightening. It could be way beyond words or not clear at all. When we come back to resuming the day ahead, we can keep a lingering taste of what we felt meditating, it can feel faint and delicate, but still has a quality we may value. If we try bringing that feeling into the day it can bring more lightness into it.
What is all this for?
Our consciousness is very involved in how the world appears to us. It is moulded by experience and our expectations. Most of the time we have to focus all our attention on concrete problems and situations that arise in our families, work and living places. We are not able to take time to listen and feel the way our heart is experiencing the world, or to the source of the light that is present within us. When we try this we might notice we feel more relaxed and safe. There is a connection with a loving source within us that seems to support us in some way and we can dare to let go and trust more. When we open our heart awareness more then the world we live in changes, our contact with others changes and our sense of values may also change. We can tread more lightly as we go through the day. Life might begin to seem more simple and balanced. We feel more in tune with what our heart feels and our awareness is wider and deeper than it was before.
Removing the layers in our heart – cleaning
Going through each day we accumulate impressions of everything like dust. All our thoughts and feelings, the experience of the places and spaces in which we have spent time, the stories and actions of others all stick around us each day like invisible particles of life. We can notice this like a kind of heaviness or density. Images of the day or moments in it keep replaying in our minds. Over time, some of these things seem to trace grooves in our patterns of thinking and feeling and keep repeating in our actions and responses. In Heartfulness, there are two resources to help remove these layers and worn patterns. One is meditating with an experienced practitioner and receiving transmission that can dissolve deeper tendencies and impressions from our past. Also every day in the evening when we have finished the main demands of the day, we can sit with the thought that a source of light is moving through us from front to back. Then all the impressions of the day can be removed in this current and dissolved into vapour going out at the back. In the empty space now created inside we can fill it with a source of light instead. If we explore this invitation, then we can notice some kind of transformation from before and after as the weight of the day leaves us.
Our part in the scheme of things
On a clear night, we can feel awed when we look up at all the stars in the sky, or if we see photos of the immensity of the universe taken by the Hubble telescope. It is hard to realise how much we are part of this too. We are told that every atom of our body started out as stardust from billions of years ago. Within us is the source of creation too – however we name it or experience it. If we imagine everything in the universe is like music playing from the beginning of time, then we are part of that music and we have within us the first sound ever uttered, just like the first atoms ever coming into existence. When we meditate with Heartfulness in the stillness of the day before it begins, it can seem as though we get a taste or glimpse of this silent stir underlying everything…
Before we sleep
The last step in the day is the suggested prayer before bedtime. It keeps some awareness in our heart while we sleep so the connection inside is kept going. The words in the prayer are addressed to the source within us and we place ourselves in the shelter and support of the deepest reality within us and creation to help all of us human beings evolve to our true potential..