Your heart just isn’t in it.
Have you ever heard those words in a performance review? Whether or not they have shown up there, it is likely they have shown up in other areas of your life. Perhaps you thought them to yourself…about yourself or your partner in a relationship. Maybe it was a reflection on yet another too draining and totally unrewarding week at work. Or, you might be thinking it as you leave early Monday morning for the weekly business trip away from the family.
Your heart isn’t in it.
I can tell when a client’s heart isn’t in it. Rarely do they have to tell me. The low energy, the tonality in which they speak, the lack of vibrancy of their words all say, My heart isn’t in it.
Whether in our professional or our personal lives, heart shows up–or doesn’t–in many ways.
- You’re all heart.
- The way they terminated Mary was heartless.
- I’m all in, heart and soul.
- The tributes to Tom at his going away party were truly heartfelt.
- I was heartbroken when I lost that account.
We can chose to pay attention to heart or not. Either way, our relationship to heart is infused in how we relate to others. The examples above reflect those times that heart is clearly and loudly making its presence known, whether in joy or in pain. By cultivating heart presence, you can “listen to your heart” even when it is whispering.
One warning about cultivating heart presence…If you don’t want to bring greater compassion into your life, into how you relate to yourself and to others, then don’t cultivate your heart presence; it will only get in the way.
So what can you do if you want to cultivate heart presence?
The first practice is quite simple. With practice you can often complete it without those around you even knowing you are doing it (if that is important to you). It’s simply about touching your heart. Not thinking about touching your heart. Not thinking about other things as you touch your heart. Simply touching your heart.
When you begin this practice it is best done in a quiet place, alone. After all, it is a practice. It becomes easier with repetition. Find a comfortable place to sit. (With practice you can do this in any position.) Close your eyes. (Again, after practicing for awhile this won’t be necessary.) Center yourself. (This practice was introduced in last week’s post.) Now reach to the upper center of your chest, and touch your heart. Smile. And wait. At first, you may or may not feel anything. That’s okay. Remember, it is a practice. When you do feel, let the feeling grow. Let your heart grow. Cultivate presence in your heart.
Over time, much like some of the earlier practices introduced in the last two posts, you will be able to cultivate heart presence in any situation, at any time.
I learned this second practice when I was a child; I have forgotten and relearned it along the way. There are numerous forms of this saying; here is one.
Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
This is a lesson in nonjudgment and gratitude. It is a lesson in cultivating heart presence. Make it more than an intellectual lesson; make it a practice in cultivating compassion. The next time you find yourself being judgmental, step into the other person’s life: their situation, their body, their mind, their heart. Feel what they feel as that voice that sounds like yours says what it is saying. Feel what they feel as that body that looks like yours shows its repulsion for them. Feel what they feel as that heart that is your heart shuts them out. Then step back into your shoes. Open your heart, and smile.
Two weeks ago I wrote about mind presence. One of the important things to know about heart presence is that it can lead you to a different place than mind presence. We all know this; we all have experienced it. The new person in your life that has all the right boxes checked on your list; the new job that meets all the criteria that you were looking for. Yet there is that nagging…I’m not really feeling it in my heart. But you ignore it. (I know. I’ve been there before, more than once.) The feeling doesn’t go away. And it doesn’t go away. You ignore it; you shut the door on it; perhaps you build a wall between you and that feeling. But it doesn’t go away.
It remains there, peaking through the cracks, ready to burst through and shout its presence until something changes. Perhaps you change your relationship with that new person, or with the new job. (“I know this isn’t the job for me after all, but I need the income so I will stick with it until I find the right one. I won’t, I can’t, put my heart into it, but I can still do a good job.”) Or, as one of my clients did, you may want to tear down the wall. (“I am gay, but have built a wall between who I am and how I have lived my life. It is time to come out.”)
What is in our heart is part of who we are. Cultivating heart presence helps us live in integrity. It can help to define the change(s) we want to make (See my post, Don’t Start With a Plan). And, it will provide guidance as we prepare for, plan, and take the change journey.
What do you do to intentionally cultivate heart presence? Comment below.