How can we find true intimacy with ourselves?
Loving takes Courage – in the English language we use the phrase ‘take heart’ when we wish to muster courage.
Loving takes courage as it requires true intimacy, opening up and letting down of walls.
Working with the heart in Asana
We commonly work with opening the heart – generally taken as opening the front body/chest. Are we missing something? Maybe we can think of the heart in 3D and access its energetic openings as follows;
The front of the heart – the front door – to be open to the future, receptive and joyful
The back of the heart – The back door – to be open to the past with forgiveness and compassion
The sides of the heart – The windows – to allow for a heartfelt connection with all beings we interact with side by side in our lives.
The top of the heart – The roof or skylight – to allow ourselves to open to divinity
The bottom of the heart – The ground floor – to bring it all home; all the streams flow into our being and we receive the knowing that we are blessed, loved and forgiven.
Love is becoming intimately integrated with yourself – to truly see ourselves deeply and compassionately.
How do we become truly intimate with ourselves?
Patanjali suggests we practice; Yoga Sutra Pada 2, v.1
Tapas Svadhyaya Ishvara Pranidhana
Tapas – to burn, discipline, consistency – we keep returning to our mat again and again.
Svadhyaya – the essence, the self, the spirit – study the true nature of yourself
Ishvara pranidhana – to surrender to your chosen deity – to give it all up, no holding onto gains and no pushing away of losses, willingness to let go – release into being.
How do we cultivate self-study?
Be the witness of thoughts – thinking about something is different to experiencing it – stay present with your emotions, in many ways emotions are more in touch with reality than thoughts.
Find your Mango – thinking about eating a juicy mango is far from the experience of eating one, smelling, tasting and experiencing the juice running down your throat and dripping through your fingers. Focussing on what gives you pleasure, where you are in a feeling state rather than a mental state can give rise to experiencing true internalized awareness.
The unconscious mind lives in the belly – to open the heart we first need to release tension in the belly – fear, sometimes manifested in anger is held in the belly
Ask yourself; What do I do to close my heart chakra? What do I do to shut down my radiance?
“Forget all of your ideas about the body, it’s this way and it’s that way. And just be with any area of it, this present body as permeated with limitless space. Drenched in freedom” The Radiance Sutras
Chanting to open energy in the heart
There are so many ways we can work to open and allow energy to flow in the heart, some of which are discussed above
- We can ask reflective questions to gain an understanding and felt sense of where we may have become stuck
- We can sense into the 3D aspect of the heart inner asana practice
- We can employ the concept of the Yamas and Niyamas as described so beautifully by Patanjali and become aware of our narrative and attitude around the workings of the heart
- We can become more present to sensation – developing a witness sense of the heart – this means working with all sensation – both joy and pain …
And we can also use sound to penetrate the layers that we might build around the heart. Using vibration to soothe, to gently coax it to open and to feel the potential joy and space that it offer when truly alive.
Aham prema is a mantra that is typically translated as “I am divine love.” It comes from the Sanskrit, aham, meaning “I,” and prema, meaning “love” or “affection.” Mantras are repeated silently or aloud for their powerful sound vibrations, which are thought to affect prana (life-force energy) in the body, and for their ability to transform or achieve a purpose.
The ahem prema mantra is believed to create pure love so the yogi experiences his/her fundamental nature as one with divine love.
Here is a beautifully guided practice offered by Deva Primal and Mitten – chanting the mantra 27 times and then sitting in silence together.
If you prefer a longer practice chant along to the mantra 108 times with this version
Maybe try this 21 day practice suggested by Deepak Chopra using various mantras to awaken the heart – take your mala and chant each mantra 108 times on waking and before going to bed ;)