There’s a practice we do on the 5/7/9 day meditation courses which goes like this.
Think of a question, something that is relevant in your life right now. It doesn’t have to be the Big One, but you should identify with it at a personal level. When you have it clear, watch the breath for a little while, a neutral space, leaving the question for the time being.
Then focus at the eyebrow centre and using the breath as a vehicle enter into the space behind the eyebrow centre. When you have found your way into the space you can drop the breath and begin to become accustomed to the space of the mind (known as chidakash) where you are now. The language of the mind is thought. See how the mind manifests itself in the form of thoughts.
When you can observe the activity here as thoughts, drop in that question/inquiry you had decided on. Watch the mind react to the question without in any way trying to influence the outcome. Just be interested to find out where it goes. You may get an answer, you may not, but you will know what you think. That you can store quietly away to recall in a little while.
Then you leave the mind space, and return to the neutrality of normal breath awareness.
Then the other
After a little time again the breath becomes a vehicle but now the point of entry is a portal at the centre of the chest. You will then find yourself entering a different space behind the front of the chest, the heart space (known as hridayakash). Then begin to discover the language of the heart, which is emotion, pure and simple. There is no thought here, only direct experience of emotion. Get accustomed to the language of the heart.
Then drop in the same question from the beginning, only this time feel the emotional reaction without any interference of thought. After some time you will know what the reaction has been, like it or not, and you can store that quietly to recall later.
Leave the heart space and return to normal breath awareness without any distraction.
What do you find?
Then leave the breath and in that neutral space recall the reaction to your question you had in the mind in the form of thought. Once you know that put it aside and recall the reaction in the heart in the form of emotion. When you have that, then put both side by side: reaction in thought, reaction in emotion and compare the two. Then ask yourself these questions.
Are the two reactions the same, or different?
If different, which do you think more accurately represents you?
And again if different, which one are you likely to act on when push comes to shove?
Here’s the point
Now although that’s a fairly lengthy description, it may not work at the deeper level the first time without some supplementary guidance. But here’s the point. A quick survey every time this practice is done shows that the large majority always say there is a difference between head and heart; and usually it comes as something of a surprise. And the majority always say it is the heart that most accurately represents Me. But there is some uncertainty as to which is likely to be influencing the action that will follow.
Also if the answer is the same you can rest assured that on another question on another occasion in nearly every case the division of head and heart will eventually show itself. So best to accept it. Those who consistently deny the differences in head and heart have invested too closely in one over the other for too long, usually the mind over the heart, but the other way round happens as well. Besides, seeing into the inconsistencies like this can act as a wake-up call to move toward a higher level of understanding
What we can conclude
So without lingering on why’s and wherefore’s, here’s what we can conclude. Generally speaking we do not know our own heart. We do not know, unless we stop long enough to look, what we really feel… about very much.
This is because the mind is usually the predominant force in life - it’s what we hear nearly all the time, and in the end almost automatically follow.
Because when the mind is that predominant we do not feel the heart even if it is aching to be heard.
When we do make the heart connection it comes as some surprise. And even if we do recognise it as representing Me more accurately we may have been in thrall to the mind for long enough to be unable to respond to the heart straightaway.
What does heart actually mean?
One thing needs to be understood to remove any lingering ambiguity. When we use the word heart it can refer to a number of different levels of perception and meaning:
Heart as a physical organ, keeping circulation going and keeping us alive into the bargain. This obviously is not the seat of emotion.
Heart as mind masquerading as emotion. They are not really emotions at all but thoughts looking emotional to achieve an end - like nearly everything on TV. Not the seat of emotion.
Heart as emotion, but the everyday and mostly temporary emotions that we hope will smooth the way. Like 'I love you so much', which I do feel and mean… until something better comes along. Not very reliable and not to be confused with:
Heart as hridayakash, the space of the heart, the seat of emotion. These are the emotions in their original and natural state.
Emotions in their natural state
It’s necessary to digress at this point to explain the natural state of emotion in the heart. Imagine original pure light, transcendent and perfect. Now imagine a crystal or a diamond. The light enters the crystal and refracts and breaks up the pure white light into all different colours. The spectrum of colours represents the spectrum of emotions. (And incidentally the analogy goes further because different emotions align with different colours being different frequencies of the same energy.)
Emotions are forces of energy. The original energy is pure and perfect, like the transcendental light. And when that energy is broken up as it were by our individual nature, like refracted light, the sum of those different emotions in a way express who we are. Like some of us have more red or orange, some less blue, or yellow or magenta etc. But although we take them personally, they should still be understood as different, less than perfect, expressions of the original pure energy. I hope that’s clear. The trouble is we are so attracted to the pretty colours that we miss the pure light from which they come:
'The colors are appealing
And nothing is revealing
The pure light
That comes from god-knows-where.'
That comes from god-knows-where.'
What it comes down to is that in hridayakash all the emotions can have a measured expression. They can be felt fully, but also observed impartially, because all emotions have the capacity to return to their original pure state. In life there are positive emotions to express and negative emotions that need to be managed, in hridayakash all emotions are considered and can be expressed equally. And you can see there’s a certain kind of freedom in this.
Finally, back to where we started this digression, this can only happen with a clear and accurate connection with hridayakash, not with the lower expression of emotions in daily life, which are not consistent and really rather inaccurate.
Heart at the highest level
There is one more where Heart is used at the highest level (better with a capital 'H'). Here Heart is the place or space where all the mundane qualities are left behind, where there is no division, or uncertainty of conflicting emotion. It is still, at peace, at rest - the kind you'd never want to disturb. It is also represented in hridayakash, at the very centre, beyond the emotions that surround it, and it can be visualised as a beautiful transcendental golden flame.
So exploring hridayakash loosens the somewhat tyrannical control of the mind, takes us nearer to how we more accurately perceive ourselves, gives a measured expression to lost or suppressed emotions, as well as providing a way to see beyond this transitory nature through the medium of that most personal of all experience, the field of emotion. In the meditation courses this practice is just the introduction to others that explore the heart space more fully. There comes a time when it’s worth getting into.