My heart feels clenched, my stomach tight. I have just gotten off the phone with my daughter who recently moved across the country to start a new life with her boyfriend and have learned that he ended their relationship. She is devastated, alone, knows no one there, and is scared. As I listened to her cry I tried to keep my heart open and offer compassion (with a little advice but trying to keep it to a minimum). I’m careful not to try to fix her problems, but just be there for support.
The rest of the day I find myself caught up in anxiety and stress thinking about her situation. I imagine her being lonely with no one there to talk to. My whole day is consumed by this. Later when I speak to her I hear her sounding OK, and find relief knowing she has people to hang out with (recent acquaintances). It made me realize the movies we create in the mind can be real but not true.
Real but not true… My mantra this month.
The fiery front brain is the part of the brain the witness observes. We observe the ‘movies’ we create, making them as horrific or delightful as our habit brain is used to, and then come to see that no matter what story we told ourselves the reality is always different from what we thought.
In Chinese medicine the element of fire corresponds to the heart and small intestine. The fire also corresponds to our fiery front brain thinking that needs to be tempered by the back brain (the water wisdom brain) that observes it. The front brain also corresponds to our ego. The difference between the ego and the observer is that the ego judges, compares, and categorizes, while the observer uses discrimination (seeing the differences of things without comparing them).
One of the highest intentions in yoga is to transform the ego to serve the heart wisdom.
When we speak of the heart in yoga we are speaking of the spiritual heart, not so much the anatomical heart, although both are intrinsically linked. The spiritual heart resides in the center of the chest as a chakra, an energetic organ. This is also where Purusa, the inner light of awareness, resides. This fire in the heart can be seen as a purifier. To circulate our thoughts from the front brain ego mind down into the heart shifts our perspective on our thoughts and has a purifying affect.
I find that when I am struggling with something or someone, if I pause and bring all of my obsessive thinking into my heart, I respond to it very differently than when I just keep it churning in the front brain as obsessive thinking. Obsessive thinking leads to reactivity, as opposed to observing and channeling the thoughts through the heart, which leads to a wiser response, coming from love.