What does it really take to follow your heart?
"Sometimes we have to slow down and take note of where our heart has been, ask directions to where it wants to go next, and who it wants to come with us." Mark Anthony.
I read these words this morning and felt my whole body tingle as I realised how strongly they resonated with me.
I will be honest with you all. Before I left for my trip at the end of January, I wasn't sleeping, I was an emotional wreck - holding on to myself with a very thin piece of thread - barely keeping it together on the surface and completely crumbling in the safety of my own private space. My body was fragile, my mind was on overdrive, I felt overwhelmed and my adrenal system was screaming at me.
I had blocked all 'heart' messages from coming through in a bid to 'get sh*t done'. I didn't have time to feel emotions or deal with the questions that following my heart might bring up. I was in a downward spiraling world of 'shoulds', 'hows' and 'living in my head'. My poor heart didn't get a look in.
My mind and body were BEGGING me to slow down. My heart was virtually screaming at me to listen.
However, slowing down is not something I have ever been good at.
But without slowing down, it is impossible to reflect and therefore impossible to connect.
The past twelve months have been HARD! So, so, so hard and heavy on my energy levels. The expectation and pressure I have placed on myself has broken me down. I have battered down my energy levels, I have abused my body's willingness, I have pushed the boundaries of my physical and mental capabilities.
So is it any wonder that when I came away from home on my holiday to Asia and Australia, and started to slow down (with much resistance at first of course), I not only came down with a full on head cold, but I unraveled emotionally as well. I felt scared, lost, confused, overwhelmed and lonely. All the things I had been trying to run away from at home - caught up with me!
There have been a lot of things my heart has been trying to tell me recently, but I have refused to listen. The things it wants to say aren't always convenient, they don't fit 'the plans'.
I resisted, and resisted, and the more I did so, the more exhausted I felt. Fighting with your heart has got to be the most emotionally draining thing you can do.
When I got to Australia I had nowhere to hide. I was poorly and I had no work, no classes, no meetings, no distractions to drag me out of my feelings. I also felt totally safe and looked after which gave me an amazing opportunity to allow the feelings to rise up and do their 'thing'.
Through my resistance I realised my mind and practical reasoning was never going to win over my heart's calling.
I could keep using all my energy to fight and push through... or give in to it.
I think for the first time in my life I chose the latter. I didn't have the energy to fight anymore. I literally wrote to a friend in a message.. I AM DONE. It felt like I was giving up.
But I was actually stepping up.
"The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens."
I surrender. I can't fight anymore, I have to let go and trust. I have to stop forcing things because when I do things from a 'should' mentality it feels like I am swimming up stream against a tidal wave and that is SO DRAINING. Why would I want to expend all my energy in this way?
I started to accept, and listen and follow my heart. I wrote in my journal, I read, I sat, I meditated, I succumbed to feeling ill. And piece by piece, day by day, my battery feels like it is recharging.
It feels vulnerable. My world feels wobbly at the moment, and I still feel uncertain, but I also feel open and excited and energised again. I feel stronger in my mind and a little more confident in myself. I want to get on my yoga mat and move my body, I want to ask questions and I want to see where my heart is guiding me to.
When you have 'switched off' your heart's messages for some time, feeling things can take you off guard. I catch myself reading something, or hearing something that hits a nerve and I get a flutter in my chest which I can choose to listen to, or hide away from. I choose to follow it.
That feeling lead me to buy a beautiful book in a little store in Singapore called 'The Desire For Elsewhere'... and in that store they gave me a map which helped me navigate my way round an unknown area, by myself, which made me feel totally empowered and replenished my inner strength. Without listening to that flutter I may never have experienced that.
The exhaustion I have been feeling for the past year and particularly for the past few months I had put down to my transition away from my previous business, becoming a yoga teacher and the change in lifestyle, but actually this tiredness is because of my stubbornness to listen to my heart.
I have felt depleted from thinking and trying and pushing and forcing and 'figuring stuff out'. I have been making things so much harder for myself because I was ignoring the biggest influencer in my life. My heart.
"'It's impossible', said pride. 'It's risky', said experience. 'It's pointless', said reasoning. 'Give it a try', whispered the heart."
I have a sneaky suspicion that my heart is craving adventure and uncertainty and excitement and huge amounts of love. It is craving this because I have starved it off these things for so long because I feared where those things would take me - the uncertainty scared me.
I don't really have a choice though now. The heart wants what it wants. I am just here for the ride.
It takes a brave person to listen to your heart, but I have no doubt that both you and I have the courage to do that.
So here is to the next chapter. To surrendering. To trusting and most importantly...
to following the heart.