Friday, May 30, 2008

Spiritual Lessons of the Environmental Crises (Pt3)


--body + mind + spirit--


In part one of Spiritual Lessons of the Environmental Crisis, I shared how science, psychology and spiritual studies have all shown that we are connected. This connection implies that the choices we make everyday have an overall affect on us, as well as the planet. At the end of part one, the following question was posed: What are the choices you could make, large or small, which would reflect the concept that everything is connected? I then invited you to notice those choices and see if you can put a few into action.

In part two, we discussed that these choices often come from our unconscious or unknown thoughts and feelings. The engine motivating these unknown beliefs can be based in our old survival brain. Challenging this programming takes investigating and learning about our deeper self. This leads us to the center of our being and the Intelligence of the Heart. You were then asked to connect your heart with different parts of yourself and activate this heart smarts. What did you experience? What did you learn about yourself?

In your explorations, you might have experienced that to choose to live a green lifestyle is actually an act of the heart. It is a kindness and compassion; kindness for ourselves, for others and for the planet. How might we come to such an idea of living from this larger context? We make choices from the connection to our deeper true selves. In order to care about the planet and others who share it, we find that we must connect with ourselves and with others. We do these acts of kindness by connecting with not just our intellect, but with our hearts in consort.

How can we claim our birthright to be the compassionate empowered humans that we are? Let’s look more closely at how on a moment-to-moment basis we can help ourselves live from the Intelligence of the Heart.

To approach living in the intelligence of the heart, we must be in touch with, open to and work with our body-mind-spirit. To help us open the awareness of this physical component of wholeness, we can use meditation, other spiritual practices such as yoga, Ti- Chi, along with some kinds of psychotherapies. Many of us might exercise and feel that we take care of our bodies, but often we treat our body as a thing and don’t really listen to the intelligence that’s embedded. Sometimes our bodies are actually speaking for our emotions or our spiritual struggles. Noticing where your body is stuck and the possibility of stretching the area or doing certain kinds of body opening exercises can help in the gateway to the wisdom of your body. Doing body relaxation meditations and journaling exercises can sometimes help get in touch with our body wisdom. This is one important aspect in being able to sink into the intelligence of the heart.

In order to lead with the heart we also need to be able to open our heart emotionally. For most of us, starting to open our hearts is opening to a lifetime of unacknowledged or partially acknowledged pain. Most of us have layers of grief, anger, loss or sorrow that will surface as we travel along the conscious path. The Buddhists often call this opening to our human condition, opening to our ocean of tears.

We know our emotional state and our physical state comes and goes. We are always feeling something physically and emotionally. As we said, we want to know what is happening in our bodies. It is very important to know what we are feeling emotionally at any given moment and see the patterns of our thinking and beliefs. But we want to be able to live past the momentary ups and downs of our feelings. We want to be able to let our nervous systems relax enough to sink and live from this deeper or essential state. This is not possible if we don’t do the rigorous work of our personal self-discovery.

Oscar Wilde wrote that hearts are meant to be broken. As we heal in therapy and our spiritual practices, our hearts open to feel fully; powerful feelings and parts that had been left unspoken arise to be worked with. We want to let them sing their songs so that we can be fully alive to all the love that is available in life. As we open to all that is present, we learn the art of forgiveness. Both forgiveness and compassion arise as we open. Much of this opening to what is leads us to the truth of self-acceptance. We open to be able to hold process and move through all the sorrow, pain, truth and joy of what it has meant to be us. This allows us to open to others and the planet. From here we are learning to live a green life style. We could do nothing else. Our hearts are our guides.

Sheik Kabir Helminski, a Sufi teacher and author says some interesting things in his book called The Knowing Heart. He says that “the heart is the center of our motivation and our knowing, possessing a depth and strength of will that the personality lacks.” Heart consciousness is intelligence beyond intellect, a knowing that operates at a subconscious level. Heart consciousness is a knowing from the inside and is capable of knowing all levels of consciousness or Reality. It is an integrated state that helps expands normal human capacity to embrace more of the world. The intellect only and emotions only takes us only so far. The mind can think about hope, faith, love or compassion. Heart consciousness or intelligence of the heart expands the possibilities and allows us the opportunity of living a life that opens to our greatness and honors everyone.

Let’s take a moment to go inside and meditate. Find a comfortable way to sit. After you read through this once, allow your eyes to close or gaze down. Deep breath in … Notice what you are thinking … now notice what you are feeling emotionally … take in any body sensations … Now feel your breath in your body … allow your self to go under the chattering mind for a moment to feel the essence of what is more essential … who you really are … just sink for a moment into the Intelligence of the Heart … Just feel for a moment this wise part of you … feel your true self as best you can … stay there for a moment … now come back and write down what comes to you. Please let me know how this goes for you.



Jennifer Howard, Ph.D. is an internationally known psychotherapist, Integrated Kabbalistic Healer®, life coach, educator, and author. She maintains private practices and is co-founder of the Healing Path Center with offices in New York City and Huntington, L.I., New York, as well as an extensive phone practice.

As a licensed psychotherapist, Dr. Howard brings together 24 years of experience, extensive training and expertise in mind-body psychology, meditation, and a variety of the healing arts. Dr. Howard has been frequently seen as an expert and featured guest, on national television shows including, The Maury Povich Show, Turning Point, America’s Talking, Rolanda, Charles Perez and others. Before becoming a psychotherapist, Howard was a professional actress and dancer. She is also the author of "Changes That Last", publication date to be announced.

For more information on Dr Howard, or to reach her directly, go to her SITE




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