How to think with your Heart
“At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
~ Lao Tzu
Did you ever feel like you had a gut feeling about something, but you didn’t listen and kicked yourself for not doing so? We all have a center or a “gut” that is the truthful compass to guide us in the right direction. But often we do not listen to this because we have our conscious, the side that distracts us from what we already know. The conscious is the side of us that is rational and orderly. The gut, the unconscious, is the side that knows the truth. And don’t we all want to tap into the truth? In the Western world, we are taught to think more with our conscious, whereas in the Eastern cultures, especially in India, they learn to think more with their heart, their gut. Both sides are useful, but there are times when the center becomes more important.
Most decisions we have to make do not have monumental consequences. However, when they do become large, we have to really tune into our center. For example, if you have a life threatening disease like cancer, there are very important decisions you have to make about your treatment, as it can mean life or death. Part of making the right decision is by doing your due diligence in researching and speaking with the right medical professionals, but after you have done this, it is up to your center to know what the right path should be for you.
Your gut also exists to help you get out of trouble. There was a woman who waited by her apartment elevator, and when the door opened she saw a strange gentleman in the elevator. Suddenly, all her red flags went up, but, instead of running away, she rationalized that it would be rude to not walk in and that it would be OK. She stepped into the elevator and got raped. An animal would have ran as soon as it saw the rapist, but because humans have the conscious rational side, we do not always heed to such dire warnings and get ourselves in possibly horrifying situations.
Listening to my own center has made a huge impact in my life. I decided to move to LA from NY some years ago, and while there was really nothing in LA for me — no fabulous job or lover awaiting with my whole family and friends in NY — a little voice inside nudged me to go West, and I listened. My mother didn’t want me to go and discouraged me, and while I understand that she did not want her baby to be far from her, she was just projecting her own feeling of separation onto me. To this day, moving was the best decision of my life (and my then skeptical mother now agrees), because not only did I meet my loving and supportive husband, but I was able to pursue my dreams of starting my own business and steered my life on the path of what I was destined to do.
We have so many distractions in our lives, so how can we listen to our center? You have to get rid of the white noise, which can be in the form of people around you chirping in your ear (like my mom did about my move to LA), projecting their own fears and negativity onto you. You must leave this white noise outside your front door and calm the mind. One of the most effective ways to do so is through activities that de-stress you, such as exercising (running, yoga, meditation). Personally, yoga has helped me tremendously, and I put everything — my work, socializing, etc. — around my yoga practice. This might sound a little extreme to some, but it is by doing yoga, which calms my soul, that I am able to do everything else in my life and be good at it.
The other powerful way is to be in the moment and engage in the power of now. By doing this, you are focusing on the matter at hand, however trivial or important the task might seem: doing dishes, eating a meal, working, playing with your kids, etc. By being in the moment and appreciating that moment for what it is, you are moving unnecessary distractions out of your mind and nurturing peace. When you’re in these states, your heart opens up and sees the truth in the situation. The answer might not come to you right away even if we are in a peaceful state, but if you are consistent with calming your mind, then the answer will eventually come. The more practice you have in calming your mind, the more naturally answers will come. When the answers come, you make sound decisions, which totally impacts the happiness barometer in your life. Happiness is a choice we make, so let’s tap into our heart, which already knows the truth. You just have to listen to it.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living