I’ve been doing heart work lately. I went through some personal trauma in the past that left me completely annihilated me from my true self. As a result, I both stopped listening to my intuition and eventually became shut off from my very. own. body. And you know what? We ALL go through trauma. Either individually or collectively (or both), we can all accumulate physical and emotional wounds as we hurtle though time and space on this living rock.
So, what's the heart got to do with it? Besides being a truly wondrous organ, that over the course of an average life span will beat 2.5 billion times and even mechanically generates its own electrical impulse, that is (Johns Hopkins Medicine)—what about the emotional heart? Is it connected? And if so, how?
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the heart is more than a physical structure: the heart is the Anahata Chakra, the seat of the divine or true self. Ayurveda also considers the heart to be the ruler of the mind, intellect, and consciousness. In this tradition, untreated emotional wounds and feelings of lack of love or unfulfilled needs can be linked to diseases of the physical heart as well. From this view, healing your emotional wounds is VITAL to life itself.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart, along with the lungs, is involved in the transformation of qi (vital energy) from air and food; it is the organ of the fire element and summer. In TCM, the heart governs mental activity and the physiological functions of the brain, influencing memory, thought patterns and even sleep. It is viewed as the seat of consciousness, housing both the mind and spirit.
I believe that as a trauma response, in an effort to protect myself, I had unknowingly shut my emotional heart down. This in turn cut me off from my true self and my intuition, and then from my physical body itself. And I'm gonna level with you: I was angry. Yes, angry—something that is often viewed as a shameful feeling for women to have in our society, just as men have been conditioned not to cry.
Anger CAN be beneficial, because once we’ve had enough it will spur us into action. However, if left untreated, our emotional wounds begin to fester and our anger will spill over into all areas of our life.
Therapy has helped me enormously, and in addition I have been working on integrating my shadow (a great book on this is Women Who Run with the Wolves). Working with plant medicine, returning to my roots and spending time in nature have all helped me to find my healing path, as well as cultivating personal spiritual practices that help me slow down, be mindful and reconnect with my intuition and HEART.
Long life, honey in the heart: I’m learning that the goal for cultivating a healthy and peaceful energetic heart is not to banish all difficult and challenging emotions and feelings, which shuts us down. What we need to do is create enough space, stillness and softness within our own hearts to contain the full spectrum of human emotions that flow within us and from others. We have to feel the feels.
Do I have this down in practice? Nope, but I'm working on it: gradually softening, opening, remembering. Remembering who I am.
The only way out is through. So while herbs are a wonderful ally to help us along our path of heart opening, they’re not meant to be used as a panacea or an emotional band-aid. That said, some herbs are helpful for both the physical and emotional heart. Rose, hawthorn, hibiscus and lemon balm are some that have spoken to me recently. If you feel called to work with rose medicine, we have a wonderful, heart opening wild rose tincture available.
Blessed full moon. May you be well and happy.