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The Healing Heart

by Pratibha Castle(more info)

listed in healing, originally published in issue 52 - May 2000

Humanity, both collectively as well as individually, (you and me) is presently poised for a leap in consciousness – whether we realize it or not! This leap reveals to us a dimension that is both full of mystery, as well as unknowable in any way that is available to us from our past experience. For the essence of this dimension is to be present, now, in this moment. It opens up a profound and deeply transformational shift in the way in which we experience and engage with our inner life, and also with that mirror that life provides for us in the outside world. This leap introduces us to an experience that releases within our lives certain qualities, just as a rose releases her exquisite fragrance to be cherished by the world; effortlessly, naturally, unselfconsciously. The leap is towards the dimension of the Heart.

The True Meaning of the Heart

What do I mean by the Heart? And what is her fragrance? A quality, an understanding, that brings a grace to our lives, suffusing us with peace and a sense of wholeness, even while the storm is raging (emotionally, practically, personally or universally). This fragrance is the absence of judgement. An expansiveness; awareness that does not choose, not because it is powerless, but because it has sufficient space to embrace all possibilities, revealing how they may perhaps dance in harmony, without a need to compete, or exclude. It accepts all the experiences, unconditionally, which arise in the now; is this not the true expression of love? (Do you remember some moment in your life when you felt totally accepted as you were, warts and all, when there was no demand for you to be any different, in any way, no matter how you were being; and you knew that in that moment at least, even if never again, that you were seen and truly loved, without conditions?) And why do I say 'her'? Because the feminine qualities – love, intuition, receptivity, sensitivity – arise out of the heart. So whenever these qualities are expressed, whatever the gender of the person's body (each human being consisting of both masculine and feminine energy), it is the feminine energy within them, the heart, that is vibrating.

Image of Chakras andd Healing Rays

Whatever ideas we may have about the heart, the reality is total simplicity, and simplicity is the doorway. The heart is always available for us, offering us the magic of her transformation whenever we bring our awareness to the experience of this moment. Sitting, being present to the birth of these words in front of me, I invite you to explore the heart for yourself. Allow the left hand to rest gently upon the centre of the chest. Being present to the sensation of the touch, the warmth, the pressure, perhaps noticing a subtle tingling. Let the awareness be present in the space beneath the hand. This is the physical location of the heart centre. Being present to the physical sensation at this place automatically invites the awareness to rest in the heart. Notice the breath as it flows into the chest, expanding with the in-breath, letting go with the out-breath; so easy, natural. Being present to the physical sensations, perhaps you start to notice some emotional feelings; letting them be so, just as you are letting the physical sensations be so. And maybe there are sounds around you – the ticking of a clock, clicks and creaks as the house chatters to itself, and perhaps some inner sounds, as the mind makes this comment or that. Letting all these sounds of the moment be there, the inner and the outer, simply feeling and sensing and listening without judgement, being present to the reality of the moment as it reveals itself.

Perhaps you notice in this moment how the heart is inclusive. Being without boundaries or restrictions, it can expand to absorb any and all sensations in the moment; it is not in any way limited to a particular amount or experience or sensation. I can feel an itch on my leg, while listening to music, while feeling sad, while thinking about an absent friend. All in the same moment. Similarly, the heart can absorb many different points of view, that of the individual, the group, the planet, the whole of life. Additionally, the wisdom of the heart does not arise out of the 'knowing' that is based on the ideas and knowledge that we carry from the past. Rather, it arises out of being present and available to the moment and 'not knowing'. In this space a unique, creative and appropriate response can arise that synchronizes with the situation and the needs of every aspect of the whole.

Relating – whether in a client/therapist situation, with family, friends or the beloved – is transformed when we are present for one another, feeling and listening consciously from the heart. The habit of the mind is to be constantly judging, thus creating a sense of separation, fuelling feelings of unworthiness, defensiveness, tension. When someone listens to you from the heart, immediately you relax, feel accepted and safer to share yourself from a deeper and more intimate level. Many of the strategies that arise from feeling unsafe – however subtle or unconscious that sense – become unnecessary – and the meeting that happens as a result is more real and nourishing.

The Origins of Separation and Conflict

One recurring theme in my spiritual search in the last 30 years has been the recognition of the split between the spiritual and the material aspects of life. Traditionally, the spiritual seeker had to deny the material world – money, human love, self-esteem, power. Although at a conscious level we may now recognize that this is a misunderstanding, it seems to me that we are nevertheless suffering, because our unconscious is still deeply affected (or infected!) by this belief, which expresses itself as division or separation, internally and externally. Aren't many of us involved at this time in an ongoing exploration, seeking to discover how we may live in the world, earn our living in a way that fulfils us creatively, and relate with maturity and integrity – sharing in honesty our intimacy, vulnerability, love? How we may embrace our power, standing in and living our own individual truth, as it reveals itself moment by moment, (courageous enough to let it go when it has become redundant) and without denying or interfering with the truth of another? After exploring many different options with little success, I have discovered that the Heart offers the space in which these and other expressions of duality may discover a way to dance in co-operation and harmony.

If we look at the evolution of human consciousness from a metaphysical viewpoint, we find ourselves climbing the steps of a ladder. The first step or level in life, governed by the first chakra or energy centre, is concerned with issues of material survival (the expression of the animal within us). The second level (the second chakra, centred beneath the naval) is concerned with group identity (in which we are more identified with community or clan than with individual identity). At the third level (the third chakra, centred in the solar plexus) the concern is with whatever relates to us as an individual. This is the level that is currently most familiar to us, particularly in the more 'civilized' parts of the world. We feel our separation from the rest of Existence, and consequently feeling threatened, we fight to protect ourselves, struggling to come out on top to achieve supremacy. The existence of conflict, abuse of individuals, groups and nature seen throughout the world as well as in our personal lives, all reflect how life is created when lived unconsciously from the third level. In any moment that we are unconsciously identified with any of these three levels, we fail to recognize, much less care about any other level, and have no inkling that life is in reality an organic whole. (Sometimes my driving is like that of an aggressive maniac, because I'm in a hurry to get there, with little concern about how it happens. At other times, I still have to be somewhere by a particular time; however I remember that I can be present to my breathing, the sounds and sights around me and within me, that I can enjoy the process of the journey, being here in this moment, without becoming totally identified with achieving the goal. And I still arrive!) The first way is perhaps the more familiar throughout the greater part of the civilised world. So is it surprising that so much suffering exists in the world?

Transformation of Human Consciousness

Looking at the many disasters taking place globally, it might seem that we are in fact regressing rather than progressing. (Although at most if not all points throughout history there have been wars and starvation.) Perhaps the good news might be that our consciousness really is progressing; that the pain and distress that we feel in relation to the suffering of others reveals that our sensitivity is expanding. That there is a recognition – conscious or not – that we are all connected and part of one another. That difference in colour and creed and nationality is not so much an indication of separation, but rather an expression of the delight that Life has in the diversity and uniqueness of her creations. (We cherish the differences between a rose and a violet and a lily, without a sense that one is a threat to another; why not also cherish and support that uniqueness and diversity within human beings?) Over the centuries the enlightened mystics of every culture have suggested that the way to experience peace and harmony in the world at large is through the illumination and transformation of the individual. In other words, in those moments when I can live my life loose, natural – with awareness, sensitivity, response-ability, recognizing where I am at in that moment and accepting myself as I am, rather than criticizing myself (for this creates tensions and distortion in our energy field as well as our physical body, our perceptions and our behaviour) this can affect the collective pool of consciousness throughout humanity. (Have you ever noticed how when you are at peace within yourself, loving yourself, the people you connect with also seem to be inspired by your radiance?) The suggestion is that the more healing and wholeness we experience individually within ourselves, the more possibility that this fragrance can support transformation within the greater ocean of human consciousness.

And we can see in the world practical expressions of the growing concern that many of us feel for those less fortunate than we are, whether human, animal, or the planet herself. Various internationally famous musicians have given their time and talents in recent years to raise funds to help those in need. Television appeals have made it possible to raise large sums of money for victims of natural disasters, including the recent floods in Mozambique, and volunteers have gone in to situations such as Bosnia and Kosovo, to help in whatever way they could. And closer to home, we may find ourselves contributing daily, even in small ways. Whenever we recycle a plastic bag or a glass jar, or conserve water or electricity or take our bananas minus a paper bag, we are caring for the planet and her resources. When we choose organic, we are caring for the planet as well as our own bodies; and every time we buy a Fairtrade tea or coffee we are supporting a Third World Community fair payment for their goods. And the needs of the homeless and destitute are gradually being addressed. Even certain supermarkets are donating out-of-date food to centres for the homeless, rather than throwing it on the rubbish heap!

Case Studies

And let us look at a couple of situations where connecting with the heart has been of practical value in an individual's life. The first example is of a teacher who had been suffering from ME for one year before I met her. She had been undergoing alternative treatment, without any positive response. During this period she went to a practitioner 'in order that they might heal her'. The major shift that happened for her as she explored the heart, was an understanding that she had a responsibility in her own process of healing. She began to realize that her attitude towards herself and life and indeed the sickness continued to undermine the help that was being offered to her. She recognized that, for her, the physical sickness was connected to a rigidity, an inflexibility. She also spoke of the identification with the pain. The heart enabled her to be present to the pain, in the moment, without fighting; and this liberated her from the feeling of being a victim. The deeper the meditation took her, the more she could trust herself to meet life in the moment, responding intuitively, in a way that felt harmonious and appropriate. This understanding inspired her to experiment with her diet and life-style, and she was able to benefit from various systems of alternative healing, as they felt appropriate in the moment. The symptoms of the ME cleared after a year of intensive meditation, and treatment. She is now happy to be run off her feet looking after her seven year old son and four year old daughter!

The second case history concerns a lovely young and girl in her late twenties. When I met her she was suffering from anorexia and intense anxiety attacks. This condition had forced her to abandon her university training as a doctor. She had been living in a therapeutic community for several years, undergoing therapy both within the community as well as out of it, so she was very committed in her search for wholeness. We approached her situation from several angles, with individual energy balancing and meditation sessions, and an ongoing programme of daily meditations which she undertook by herself – incorporating dance and sound techniques to encourage frozen energies to flow more freely, as well as heart meditations. When she began this process, she experienced extreme lethargy and lack of self-esteem, often being unable to get out of bed in the morning to face the world. It took a couple of years of determined effort, meditating daily for months at a time, but whereas before she had not a scrap of spare flesh on her bones, could hardly eat, and was in agony in social situations, she now has a lovely figure, eats with gusto, and enjoys a healthy social life. Additionally, she is on the verge of completing a three year full-time college course which enables her to work with others in a counselling capacity.

Every time we connect with the heart by being present in the moment to the physical sensations, the feelings, sounds and thoughts, we not only experience the heart in that moment, we strengthen our capacity to remember the heart in another moment. Regular physical exercise strengthens the physical body, enabling us to engage with unexpectedly challenging physical situations when they occur. So it is with the heart. By practising awareness in easy situations, it becomes gradually possible to be in the heart when we experience the greater challenges – loss of someone precious to us, feeling inadequate in our work, conflict with our beloved, the moments when painful emotions unexpectedly overwhelm us apparently without cause. Because although it may sound as the heart is all bliss and lotuses – and many beautiful blessings are showered in connecting with the heart – nevertheless some moments in life are just painful or unpleasant. Life consists of day and night, laughter and tears, in-breath and out-breath. And the heart can embrace the moments of darkness as well as the light; it has no preference. All that is needed is practice, as in all things. Being aware of the heart is no different from learning to play the piano. However, just as we don't start out trying to play a piece of music by Mozart, but rather practise scales, so the way to strengthen the heart and to be present to the heart is to start with easy situations – listening to beautiful music, enjoying being present to a beautiful sunset, feeling your hand resting on your chest. And each one of us can only experiment for ourselves. For isn't life one great big experiment in which we are learning the ways that bring us greater peace, fulfilment and joy through being conscious in the moment, as we learn to let go of whatever keeps us in suffering and unconsciousness?

Further Information

Mandalas by Sugatha. To view more of her artwork, or to purchase prints and greeting cards, please visit Sugatha's website at or write to her at: Sugatha, 25 Pony Soldier Circle, Sedona, Arizona 86336 USA.


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About Pratibha Castle

Pratibha has been exploring natural healing, self-development and meditation since 1971. She is a Shamanic Reiki Master, and a fully qualified Aura-Soma teacher. Pratibha has experienced and been helped by many different approaches while travelling on her inner journey, and she draws upon this inspiration to create her own unique system of healing and empowerment. She teaches Reiki and Aura-Soma trainings, offers vibrational healing, dance, sound and heart meditation courses, and Goddess workshops that encourage healing in the woman, so that she may live and be nurtured by the qualities of the feminine, as expressed through the heart. Pratibha also offers courses – 'Listening from the Heart' – to support us (whether in the role of therapist, healer, teacher, or friend) in laying down our personal baggage so that we may be present to the other from the space of the heart. Pratibha – a mother and a singer – also teaches workshops for exploring and healing the chakras and the aura. For further information and dates of courses or to book an individual session please phone 01243 552262

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