Bridging The Gap Between Heart And Mind Through Yoga

yoga-poseIt is no secret that many of us have a strong disconnect between our hearts and our minds. I see too many people in this world with good hearts being misjudged for making the wrong choices. Why we make these decisions is often because we tend to listen to what our minds tell us to do, which are often influenced by the minds of others. The one time we can know that we are being entirely true to ourselves is when we listen to our hearts because no one can interfere with what the heart wants. The heart’s intentions are the purest and most genuine than any other.

One of the goals of the practice of yoga is the aim to bridge the gap between the mind and the heart. Just as it sounds, it is not a simple feat. From a young age we are taught to overwork our minds by doing what we are told to avoid consequence, listening to others without taking the chance to listen to ourselves. Perhaps this is where the teenage rebellion comes into play–by undergoing puberty our hearts are finally beginning to battle with our minds and teach us that we have the power to make our own decisions.

All of us have experienced the battle of the heart and mind at least one time in our lives. For instance, how many times have you been in an argument with a loved one where your heart wants so badly to give in but your head convinces you to hold out? Most of the time what we are holding out for is the sake of pride or to prove a point, therefore prolonging the heartache and misery. Imagine what the world would be like if we all listened to our hearts more?

I remember the exact moment that yoga changed my life and opened my heart. For years I had been flowing through poses gaining mental and physical strength and felt as though I had achieved all that I could as a student. When I registered for my yoga teacher training, I had no idea what was in store for me. I vividly remember sitting on the wooden yoga deck in Costa Rica overlooking the ocean. My instructor Sasha Dae’s voice breezed through the sound of the crashing waves and straight into my heart. She told our class that every single one of us had the power and strength to control our own destinies and no one could ever take that away from us–and somehow those simple words clicked. I felt an overall sense of relief and comfort beginning in my heart and waving through my body as a smile washed over my face and tears streamed down my cheeks. At this very moment, my heart opened and I felt the urge to share this gift of love with everyone. “Yoga allowed me to become an observer of my own life so that I could start making healthy choices for myself,” says founder of YogaHope Suzanne Jones, a yoga outreach program for victims of abuse in Boston. Once this power unveiled itself within her, she, like many others, felt the need to share it with the world. “Those that have found the secret to true strength, clarity, and compassion through yoga often feel compelled to share their gift with others.”

While it is impossible to change the world overnight, a realistic goal for all of us might be to bridge the gap between heart and mind, essentially achieving balance within. But how do we find this balance? Where is the balance between softness and strength?  Devotion and independence? Inner strength and outer strength? To maintain balance while achieving the ultimate goal, keep these simple goals in mind:

Be supportive, patient, and accepting to all that you encounter. I have encountered many lost souls in my life with dark clouds looming over their heads for whatever reason. It pains me when I offer my help to them and they refuse, because I know that I can help in their healing process. If they would just give me the chance I could bring even the tiniest amount of sunlight into their lives, but until they win the battle inside their heads I will remain patient. Accept everyone for who they are, no matter how lost or confused they may seem.

Be truthful to yourself and to others. If you know you have wronged someone, be honest with them and yourself. Admitting fault releases the mind’s power over the situation and empowers the heart to make the situation right. Do not make promises you cannot keep nor uphold unrealistic expectations for others.

Be generous. Do not confuse power with force. It is possible to be powerful and focused yet intuitive and compassionate simultaneously. Empowering others allows you to be soft and giving, yet still experience the strength that empowerment brings. The best leaders pull others up as they rise instead of putting them down.

Be fearless. The more we confront who we are and love both the bad and the good, the more we can help others. “The starting place for fearlessness is embracing the darkest parts of yourself, where your own pain and suffering can create barriers to your ability to be honest, generous, and supportive,” says famous yoga guru and activist Seane Corn. “Stepping into your power means being honest about who you are–both light and dark–and not being ashamed of the human experience, no matter what is revealed.”

Stop trying to compare yourself to others or live up to someone’s expectations other than your own. I remember being a student in a crowded hot yoga class with a friend who had been practicing alongside me for quite some time. I noticed on that particular day that her balance and focus were extremely in tune with the flow of the class. She later confessed to me, “I have never experienced a class like that before. I tuned everything and everyone out and only focused on myself.” Weeks later I could still hear her preaching the benefits of yoga to a skeptic, assuring him it would change his life. You are the only one who knows what is best for you, how to take care of yourself, and what truly makes you happy. Listen to your heart and your mind will follow.

Always remain true to yourself and your intentions. Many of us take on different roles on a daily basis–parent, co-worker, partner–but always remain true to who you are. You are not your profession or your partner’s slave, you are yourself and you are the only one of you out there. Do not deprive the world of your true self. We must liberate our capacity to love without sacrificing our individuality. Our deepest motive must not be achievement, but love and acceptance of ourselves and others.

Bridging the gap between heart and mind begins with listening to the heart and approaching the world with a loving attitude, no matter what your mind tells you. I once had a teacher that told me, “Yoga will make your entire life better, it will change you if you allow it.” Let go of skepticism and negativity, the diseases of the mind, and embrace the positivity and truthfulness, the healing powers of the heart.

Shanti.

Courtesy of Examiner.com.

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© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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Comments

  1. Shanti; Your shared epiphany is warmly welcomed; I could write on and on about how your article touched me on various planes and in a myriad of ways. Thank you. Since I believe all happens for a reason, I will quietly meditate upon this and tabulate how much it encompasses my own very thoughts and hopes. You have perfectly expressed the ‘door closed, window opened; scenario, and the spherical, upward rise to a state of Nirvana. Too often kindness is mistaken for weakness, and I know I tend to identify who I am with my work. i am also a self-developed ‘pleaser’who has forgotten her own way home. May All Divine Beings bless you.

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