Our hearts are amazing organs of light and matter. On one level they pump blood to keep us alive. On another, they are the seat of empathy, of love for self and others. On a third, they bridge the gap between thoughts and emotions. The heart mediates conflicts and allows us to find the middle ground.
When a heart is open and free, it reconciles disparate energies from our bodies and spirits. An open heart feels soft and powerful. It is willing to trust and can make appropriate boundaries.
When judgment, fear, trauma, or over-reliance on rationality interferes with the free flow of energy in the heart, it starts to close. It can’t fulfill its function and loses flexibility. A heart of stone is not just a metaphor. A closed heart is judgmental, unforgiving, jealous, and often gives itself up for crumbs.
Most people living in our fast-paced, confusing world experience some level of heartbreak. Some symptoms are:
- Compulsive behavior
- Fixated on the future or past
- Eating disorders
- Abuse of drugs/alcohol
- Physical symptoms of stress like worry, problems sleeping, unable to focus, hopelessness, low energy, headaches, frequent colds, muscle tension.
We know we’re supposed to eat right, exercise, control our emotions and not get caught up in the daily drama, but it’s hard. One reason is that our minds and emotions are not communicating with each other. The body is not getting the mental message that this difficult situation will pass, and the mind is not hearing the body say it’s scared and needs reassurance. Without healing, the broken heart cannot bridge the gap between what we think and how we feel.
In ancient Greece, the goddess Themis served as a bridge between the older Titans, who were all sound and fury, and the more rational Olympians. The child of Ouranos and Gaia, she represented the heart between spirit and earth, and her ancient function is being remembered today as a symbol of inner healing.
Her image is used as a symbol for justice and appears on the buildings of many courts. She carries the scale of justice and a sword, which reminds us that when justice is not served, there is a price to pay.
To reconcile opposites is to gain wisdom and consciousness. On a conscious level, this means we search for what connects the opposites. Subjectively, we allow ourselves to perceive, without judgment, the feelings and emotions that arise in response to our thoughts and actions.
Instead of listening to the culture or the common wisdom of family, clan, and country, Themis energy points to another way. We can make our own decisions based on discrimination informed by our feelings. Instead of bouncing from mind to emotion, from reason to gut, we can marry these aspects in the heart. We can learn to listen to Psyche, the spirit soul, and to Thymos, the passionate life of the body.
In the west, we have lost the idea of the body having intelligence and the ability to communicate, but new research in neurophysiology presents us with information that echoes the wisdom of Themis.
The Heart Math Institute offers research on how the heart mediates between our minds and emotions and how to reduce stress, gain balance and feel more at one with ourselves.
A great way to start on this journey is to practice a simple technique you can download at Heartmath.org. The Quick Coherence technique for adults is free at this link:
In future posts, I’ll be talking about how to make friends with the mind of the body and the practical things you can do to find heart balance. I teach a simple method of using journaling to reach heart integration in my Writing for Healing course which starts on April 18.