Follow the Heart
Regardless of whether you acknowledge the spiritual or not, regardless of whether or not you believe in chakras and bio-energy fields, the one force that remains undeniable is Love. And the one location that we associate with Love is undeniably the heart. Examine our willing use of the word heart and you'll be hard pressed to find someone that says Love doesn't exist. The fact that the purpose, importance and value of Love pervades all of humanity without regard to religion or education is just some of the evidence that Love is the central force that moves all things.
When we think of the Heart we think of Love. Initially we equate Love to feelings of passion, a sense of belonging, a sense of feeling purpose and importance to other people. I've mentioned how the gut seems to be the predominant sensation of the soul. However, the heart is without doubt the wellspring of creativity that feeds the soul. It is the source of nurturing and warmth that encourages the soul to express its identity fully, by daring you to face your fears and pains. If there ever was a "driver's seat" that should be steering your soul then the heart is the "driver's seat" of the soul.
If there ever was one concept that would never steer you wrong, it would be: "Follow Your Heart" True, at times following your heart may seem reckless and may result in some embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. However, following your heart is not about being comfortable and not about getting approval. It's about achieving all your dreams and fantasies. It's about finding and living in your life's passion. It's about truly feeling alive and courageous.
The heart is your guide, courage, and strength to release your ego and surrender your identit in exchange for peace, courage and strength. But understand the heart isn't something that you can demand courage from if you've often ignored your heart on prior occasions. If you have gotten out of touch with your heart, then often the best you can do in the face of fear is try to pretend it's not there. If you are in touch with the heart then more and more your fears will lose their meaning and dissipate. Strengthening the connection to the heart comes by faithfully listening and following your heart and not ignoring or dismissing it.
The first place to start with the heart is to love yourself. Many of us including myself grew up believing that loving yourself was being selfish. There is this misconception that the opposite of being selfish is being selfless. That is giving unceasingly even at the expense of your own happiness. The eternal living martyr, living in misery, always sacrificing, and often bitter: this is the image of selfless love. However, the truth of the matter is that one who tries to give out love from a selfless stand point will secretly undermine their acts of giving with bitter comments behind your back, or under their breath, or in the bitterness in their eyes. The bottom line is that selfless giving makes you feel worse and makes you feel like everyone who is happy is selfish and that to be miserable is the ultimate in love. Understand that your capacity to love others is limited by your capacity to love yourself.
Have you ever witnessed people who give of themselves, and they actually become happier for giving? As a selfless kind of person, when I saw such people, I found them hard to believe. "How could that person be really happier for giving more? I think he's just faking it so that he looks like a saint and gets to be on TV and gets lots of fame and fortune." I was jealous. "Why can't I be that way? Why can't I be so big of a person, and do it naturally, and do it for pleasure?" Believe it or not, I learned the answer to becoming one of those truly big and great people that gives and gets pleasure out of giving is to start with loving yourself.
A good starting point to loving yourself is to love your gut region. Your gut region is where you will feel tightness when you're insecure and feel small. Find ways to praise yourself for all that you've done and tried. Love yourself enough to dare and do something gracious for another person, no matter how small. And when you do it, no matter how small the deed, praise yourself for taking that risk. Don't adopt the attitude that you should do a good deed because you ought to or to satisfy a guilt; Adopt the attitude you should do a good deed because you deserve to; you've earned the right and honor to give; you're good enough to be generous. Don't give because you want to be great, give because you already are great. Feed yourself properly not because people say it's good for you or because you want to look sexy. Feed yourself properly because you love yourself, and you deserve to be treated with the best diet. Deliver yourself compassion and praise. Then offer your self-esteem a chance to let go and trust. Practice this and bit-by-bit you will lose your ego and find more of yourself in others. You will naturally become one of those few precious gems of people with huge hearts that you used to envy. You will learn how to be an unconditional lover and you will feel from your heart when you should give something to others and when you should give something to yourself.
And once you can start giving to yourself, you might be surprised how you may start to have an interest in giving to charities.