The question came up today asking what exactly does the words “follow your heart” mean. This expression has a different meaning for each individual so I can only speak for myself as I try to feel the deeper truth behind these words.
For me it starts with listening to the “still small voice within” as is described in the Bible; that voice that only comes when the mind is quiet and when I’m not being swayed by wants, both from those of others or from my own desires. It also goes beyond the chatter of the ego voices; beyond the fear, the anger, the jealousy, the greed, the pleasures and the pains of life, and the approval of others.
When I’m clear as to what that voice is saying then I need to find the courage to follow it. This may mean breaking old patterns that no longer work, it may mean following a path that others may not understand. It means being honest with myself and being willing to open to all the inconsistencies that surround that heart felt decision.
It also means coming from a place of confidence in myself without making others wrong. To follow my heart I need the courage to do what is true for me and the confidence that any consequence from following my heart will work itself out.
Most of all it means being able to come from a place of love, and surrendering my ego-will to the flow of the Divine Will. For me following my heart means following that internal flow of what is true for me.
In contemplating this question I also realize that to follow your heart has to do with intuition. I like how Ram Dass puts it in the book How Can I Help? He says, “As we learn to listen with a quiet mind, there is so much we hear. Inside ourselves we can begin to hear that “still small voice within” …the voice of our intuitive heart which has so long been drowned out by the noisy thinking mind. We hear our skills and needs, our subtle intentionalities, our limits, our innate generosity.”
In order for pure intuition to show itself we need to break through the layers of distorted ideas, anger, fear, greed, patterns of attachment, and all the other ego entrapments.
I once had a client who told me how stressed and uncomfortable she felt because she didn’t know at any given moment what to do next. She was very contracted and it was emotionally very painful to be in life.
She gave an example of being at the supermarket and after getting into her car she couldn’t think of what to do next. From knowing her and the extraordinary fear that she had, I realized that instead of sitting and allowing herself to “shift gears” by dropping into that intuitive place that naturally brings up the next thing to do, she would short-circuit that information with her fear. She expected herself to immediately know the next step, and when it didn’t come instantly, she would panic. She didn’t trust that deeper place within herself.
I had another client who do to the fear of saying the wrong thing he avoided people as much as possible. Whenever people talked to him he would nervously plan out exactly what he would say next. He wasn’t spontaneous in life, didn’t have any friends, worked in a warehouse by himself, and was very lonely.
In getting to know him I realized that his extraordinary fear prevented him from truely listening to what people were saying and dropping into that intuitive place that naturally brings up the next thing to say. It took a long time before he could find that internal place of silence and trust his deeper self.
In each of these examples that still small voice within that comes through as intuition was so severily blocked that they not only were unable to follow their heart but they weren’t even able to hear that whisper within.
I think we all tend to block that inspirational place within us to a certain extent. It is only when we can get the fear out of the way, and trust ourselves to listen to that still small voice that whispers to us through that intuitive place that we can become more in tune with the flow of life.
As we work on the material that keeps us stuck we are more and more able to listen and express our experience of that voice without it being distorted. Often these moments come as a result of allowing oneself to open to, and move through the pain in life. Through meditation, contemplation, and prayer it becomes easier to break through the barriers that keep us stuck.
When one is willing to open to the pain, intuition and inspiration often comes through as our defenses are less likely blocking the natural flow of life.
Intuition is that which connects us to the Truth of what is. So, I believe that while intuition whispers to us the wisdom of that deeper voice, following our hearts is to couragously follow the truth that intuition brings up in us.
Love and Peace,
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,