How To Keep Your Heart In The Driver’s Seat Without Letting Your Mind Hijack You
Develop A Strong Relationship With Your Heart
“Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World and it will one day return there.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“What must I do to attain holiness?” said a traveller.
“Follow your heart,” said the Master.
That seemed to please the traveller.
Before he left, however, the Master said to him in a whisper: “To follow your heart you are going to need a strong constitution.”
The strong constitution Anthony de Mello speaks of is knowing the language of your heart and abiding by its wisdom.
The mind is notorious for leading us astray due to a simple reason: We believe and act out our thoughts. And we’re not to blame, because the voices in our head are real.
However, thoughts are fleeting electrical impulses, while the heart’s wisdom is true and constant. It is the silent whisper of the soul that speaks without drowning out your thoughts.
“Thoughts are not necessarily facts. Most of the time they’re not even close,” writes Donald Altman in Clearing Emotional Clutter: Mindfulness Practices for Letting Go of What’s Blocking Your Fulfilment.
Many people are unable to make sense of The Language Of The Heart, let alone know it exists. But intuition is real and we’re only now beginning to realise how powerful it is when utilised properly.
Whilst I concede there’s a long way to go in understanding the heart’s inherent capabilities, one thing is for certain; the heart is the centre of all wisdom.
At the HeartMath Institute, research suggests the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Other biological processes known as Heart Rate Coherence represents a dynamic balance within the Autonomic Nervous System, so that positive emotions have a balanced effect on your mind and body.
The key is to develop an intimate relationship with your heart, instead of letting your thoughts steer you in a direction not of your choosing.
Have you noticed how your thoughts can sometimes lead you down a path of self-destruction? You wind up making wrong decisions because you trusted your thoughts were right.
Author Peter Francis Dziuban writes in Simply Notice: Clear Awareness Is the Key To Happiness, Love and Freedom: “If it ever seems as if thoughts are bombarding, sit back and calmly notice.”
The Silent Deadly Thoughts
“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” — Lao Tzu
Those who are attuned to the language of their heart note how it speaks in silent whispers instead of drowning out their thoughts. The communication is encouraging and truthful without an agenda. Practices like meditation can help you to become more accustomed to the wisdom of your heart instead of the blaring thoughts in your mind.
Ultimately, it requires down the mental chatter to find peace and contentment within.
The heart is the seat of intuition and creative impulses while the mind is the seat of logic. However, logic is unable to delineate between non-linear dimensions and abstract information, since that is the realm of intuition.
To keep your heart in the driver’s seat means to tune in to the silent impulses of the heart. To do this, recognise your intuitive drives and act on them more often instead of dismiss them as insignificant.
The more you engage intuition, the more you will come to appreciate and trust it. Most people rush about their daily lives caught up in their thoughts or consumed by their external surroundings. They rarely take the time to notice what is taking place beneath their thoughts.
“Being in touch with your feelings” is often touted as a good thing, a way to ‘be in your heart,’ to live a life that balances the thinking part of you with the feeling part,” states Jan Frazier in The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What Is.
If you go about your day stimulated by external noise and mental chatter, this is bound to create stress since there’s so much your body can handle.
“Paying attention to automatic thoughts is simply a habit we can change. When you shift into awareness-based knowing, automatic thinking moves into the background, and you experience true peace of mind,” says psychotherapist and author Loch Kelly.
We must be aware of our thoughts without being invested in them. When I talk about thoughts in this instance, I am referring to the incessant, habitual thoughts that take place in the backdrop of your mind.
These are the silent deadly thoughts that if not attended to can cause emotional and physical problems down the line. For example, you might have an unstable relationship with a co-worker that suddenly spirals out of control. Soon, you are ruminating on ways to sabotage your colleague or trying to avoid them altogether.
You might dwell on the situation more than necessary. After many weeks, the sight of this person causes physiological responses in your body, such as an increased heart rate, sweating or a dull feeling in the pit of your stomach.
This is a case I’ve seen too often working with clients unable to switch off their thoughts.
Donald Altman offers the following advice for recognising such thoughts: “On the other hand, what if you simply observed the same thought as nothing more than a mental sensation? In other words, suppose you viewed it as no different than a physical sensation — except that it’s happening in the mind?”
Develop More Of A Heart Based Awareness
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”– Albert Einstein
As mentioned earlier, negative and positive thoughts create a physiological response in the body. If you are aware of it, your body will offer clues as to the truthfulness of your thoughts.
Much of the science behind this work was achieved by the late Dr Candace Pert, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist who said: “Your body is your subconscious mind.” Meaning, your body communicates messages from your mind in the form of sensations, impulses or pain. If you are attentive to these physical sensations, you are better equipped to direct your thoughts.
So what can you do to stop your thoughts hijacking you?
First, find time for silence. As little as five minutes a day to begin with is a good starting point. You may find initially that your thoughts overwhelm you, however with continued practice this will settle as your mind becomes accustomed to the silence.
Loch Kelly says: “Research showing that meditation reduces stress demonstrates that the stress is not caused by the external situations we usually blame, but is generated instead by the previous location of identity in our thoughts.”
Second, if you want to better understand your thoughts, journaling is a valuable exercise to notice the theme that underlies your thinking. The process of journaling helps you to transpose incessant thoughts onto paper instead of them dominating your mind.
So, in the earlier example of the heated exchange between you and your colleague, you might journal how you feel instead of ruminating on those thoughts. You may want to take it a step further and find your own solution to the problem. This way you become your own coach and mentor.
Through these exercises, you develop more heart based awareness and learn to trust your intuitive impulses. The key is to use logic and intuition interchangeably so your life’s experiences become a mind-body experience.
So, when an assiduous thought takes place, you notice it before it creates an emotional and physical response in your body. The more you engage in this practice, the less addicted you are to your thoughts.