Without daily meditation, we can sometimes ignore the heart as though it were a forgotten flower in an old vase. Usually, we become aware of the heart only in extreme situations. Like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, we may know we have a heart “because it’s breaking.”

When we are first attracted strongly to someone, we may feel the energy of the person shimmer through the heart like radiant energy every time the loved one’s image or name occurs in the mind. Most of the time, though, the tunnel from mind to heart is darkly lit and, in some cases, temporarily inaccessible.

We cannot become fully realized spiritual beings without open access to the heart. Often, we speak of the heart without really feeling what it’s like to live there. Many only do kind acts on principle. While this is certainly helpful to a degree, it does nothing to raise the vibration of the planet or help us grow. By wedding a generous act to a higher intention that another receives a great benefit, the act becomes more genuine, more substantive. A generous, open-hearted person is an invaluable treasure to all those around her.

We name and number things for convenience, for ease of cognition. The universe, however, is vast and unnumbered. Radiance can perhaps be measured, in terms of physics. Think of it, instead, in terms of intensity, for a little while. We connect to a radiant, loving heart more by imaging than measurement. Picture radiance as tied to a kind of dimmer switch. We can, at will, adjust the rheostat toward a greater intensity, rendering our auric field a force of love and light. Focus the energies so that they radiate out from the heart center upon leaving the sanctuary of home to participate in the world. If we do that, everywhere we go will feel like home.

It takes a conscious effort, initially. I have to keep altering my expectations to become positive. I find myself surprised by genuine kindness evinced by those around me. Then, I enter into a kind of self-chastisement. What is going on here? Why am I expecting rudeness and nastiness from others? Accept it, I tell the recalcitrant, darker part of myself: the world is changing rapidly. Be your innately kind and tender self, and it will be well-received. You will not be mocked or undermined.

The wisdom of Neem Karoli Baba bears repeating: regard others as though each were just another mask of the Beloved. By holding this perception, we stay in the heart longer. It becomes natural to be open, generous and loving toward others — no matter how adversely they behave. We just keep on being our compassionate selves, and eventually, that force becomes the more irresistible choice for others, as well.

Cedric jokes with me in the truck. He loves Tom Waits songs. There’s one whose lyrics he finds particularly amusing: several of the verses end with the refrain about “rollin’ over to the lowside of the road.” Cedric invokes the line if he hears me start to become dark in my reflections. He will gently goad me into awakeness with the metaphor from Tom Waits, reminding me to stay true inside. “Don’t roll into the lowside of the road,” he’ll chuckle and say to me. I like hearing it. It sheds light on an incessant struggle of mine, a daily tug-of-war between mind and heart.

I have since learned to rise above, to stay more positive, to take the higher ground, to work in tandem with the big beam of light now broadcasting over the planet. We are here to live, love and grow spiritually. By staying in the heart, we can be present for others, and doing so will seem effortless. We have to be strong enough to think beyond ourselves.

People often wonder, “What is my role? What do I need to do next?” I know now that, even if all we do in this life is find a way to stay in the open space of the heart, extending love and compassion to all beings, it’s definitely enough. It’s more than enough; it is a life well-lived.

Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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