HEART TO HEART
A Guide to Heartful Communication Using the Enneagram and Meditation
“Surely there is a window from heart to heart;
They are not separate and far from each other.
Two earthenware lamps are not joined,
But their light is mingled as it moves.”
When our relationships are good, life is good! One of life’s most enduring joys is a good “heart to heart” talk with a friend, lover, parent, child, coworker, or sometimes even with a perfect stranger. On the other hand, one of the things that can cause us the most pain is when communication with a beloved other, family member or colleague breaks down. Have you ever lamented…I just can’t seem to get through to him...or said to yourself No matter what I say she takes it the wrong way? For most of us there is someone in our lives with whom communication is difficult. We want to have a “heart to heart” talk, but don’t know how to make it happen. Instead, we talk “at” one another. Our attempts to communicate have an unhappily predictable outcome in which I say something…then the other person says something back…and then I think to myself, oh no, here we go again! But then I say the same thing for the umpteenth time anyway, hoping against hope, maybe this time will be different! But we go round and round again and there is no connection, no understanding, and no resolution.
From our own experience, we know that positive communications leave us feeling uplifted, relaxed, and energized, but after a negative encounter we are likely to feel down, stressed, and drained. Research data now shows that the communication exchanges we have with others actually have an immediate effect on our blood pressure, heart rate, and immune system. In short, good communication makes us healthier, and bad communication makes us sick!
Life Lessons from “my” Lost Umbrella
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
Losing things—our car keys, purse, money in the stock market, a job, a friendship, a loved one—is a fundamental part of life. It is never a fun experience. In fact it is always painful, either a lot or a little. Yet over time great wisdom teachers seem to agree on one thing—losing is mysteriously and inextricably intertwined with finding! For example, Jesus says that if you want to find your life, you must lose it. How can this be? According to our everyday way of thinking, this makes no sense.
EMBRACING LIFE AS IT IS
Welcome, I say, opening the door, inviting you to come in.
In a word and a gesture, I say much more… Come in… I’m glad to see you… you belong here….
your needs are important…I offer you what I have…I accept you as you are…you are in the right place….
Welcoming! How we all long for and enjoy this experience. December more than any other month brings us into a direct encounter with welcoming traditions of hospitality that are both ancient and universal. Through rituals of gift giving, special dinners, reaching out to the poor, and festive gatherings of family, friends, and sometimes even strangers, we welcome one another into our homes and our lives. Unlike past generations, in our modern times we usually live apart, with few multi-generational homes and many single persons living alone. Yet in this month of December, as the hours of darkness become longer, the urge to extend hospitality grows stronger. We call it “the holiday spirit.” Who knows? Maybe on some deep cellular level we remember our ancestors coming together in their dark caves, telling stories, singing, eating and drinking together, and taking comfort and pleasure from the warmth and light of the fire and friendly companionship!
HOPE, MEANING, AND CONNECTION
What are the fundamental needs of human life? And what does it really mean to be alive? Many times we think in terms of food and shelter. Yet history is full of stories of men and women who survived prolonged periods of deprivation without these basic elements. And we likely all know people who have abundant food and luxurious shelter who do not seem to be fully alive. It appears that there are at least two things going on at the same time—one is visible, tangible, and exterior; the other is interior, hidden, and invisible to the physical eye.
--Tao Te Ching
Vitality—everyone wants it! Vitality is a radiant word with a broad spectrum of meanings. If we have vitality, we have the energy we need to do our work and enjoy our play. We have strength to fight off germs, stand up for ourselves, and face up to what life presents to us. We have resilience to bounce back when things don’t go the way we’d hoped, or when we experience the loss of a job, or a loved one, or a treasured possession. We have flexibility and the capacity to respond adaptively, effectively and appropriately to changes in our environment, relationships, or physical capacities. We have reserves to carry us through the barren times when the money, or the emotional support, or what gives our life meaning is hard to come by. We have health as we age, and basic trust in life.
BREATHE EASY: Awareness is the Key
“Fear is excitement without the breath”
“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth”
Breathing…our life line! We can survive weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without breathing. In many cultures, breathing is considered the essence of being. The word for breath in many cultures is often the same as words for spirit or the life force—prana in Sanskrit, ruach in Hebrew, spirtus in Latin, chi in Chinese. Cultures throughout history have acknowledged the role of breath in connecting the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves; regulating the autonomic nervous system; and joining us to the nature and to other people. Remarkably, leaders in the domains of both spirituality and science agree about the centrality of breathing to the health of body and mind. Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master, author, and teacher of mindful breathing says, “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts”.
MEDITATION — It’s Not Just In Your Head
"Meditation is not about forcing our mind to be quiet; rather it's a process to rediscover the quietness that is ever-present. Behind the screen of our internal dialogue is the silence of pure awareness-a silence that is not disturbed by thoughts of the past or concerns of the future."
--Dr. Deepak Chopra.
Meditation has become mainstream! In May 2011 ABC World news did a special report on the benefits of meditation with a focus on meditation studies done by prestigious institutions like Harvard University. According to this report, health care providers are increasingly suggesting that their patients look to meditation and other integrative techniques to improve their health.
HAPPINESS: is an inside job
“The purpose of life is happiness”
Happiness is a taboo topic. Even though we frequently wish others happiness, most of us are ambivalent about it. On the one hand, we want to be happy, but usually link it to a future change of state. We think we will be happy when we make the right amount of money, meet the right person, get promoted, pay off our debts, get well, complete our education, or the children grow up-- and so the list goes on. On the other hand, even admitting that we want to be happy makes us feel guilty. Our cultural work ethic looks down on the desire for happiness as superficial and selfish.
FIND INNER PEACE By Questioning Your Thoughts
It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
Thoughts are passing through our minds at every moment of our day, whether we notice them or not. It is like there is a multi-band radio station playing inside our heads all the time. Various internal and external events trigger them, causing us to bounce from station to station. Gifted Irish novelist James Joyce in his book Ulysses was among the first to capture this inner chaos in literature as he guides the reader into the mind of his protagonist, showing us that it is not neatly organized into structured sentences and sequential, logical thoughts, but is rather a punctuationless formless flow of constantly changing words and images, which seem at times to take on a direction and meaning, and at others to be totally meaningless.
ONE STEP AT A TIME: Improving Balance and Preventing Falls with Tai Chi and Qigong
“The Sage breathes from her heels…”
Tao Te Ching,
Have you ever worried about someone you love or yourself losing your balance and falling? Then you are not alone! Whatever your age, falling can have serious consequences, but especially if you are age 65 or older, the consequences of falling can actually be fatal or at least life threatening. In 2009, 18,000 older adults died from injuries received from falls, and 2.2 million were treated for nonfatal fall injuries in emergency departments.
ENERGY TAPPING FOR HEALTH
“Your body has the ability to heal itself”
Andrew Weil, MD.
Our bodies have a remarkable built in bias toward healing. If we break one of our bones, we trust that it will heal. Not only will it heal, but we know that the place where the bone has broken will become its strongest part. Yet when our wound manifests as psychological instead of physical, this innate capacity to heal is often not as clear and we do not trust it in the same way.
CIRCLE WALKING: A Healthy Lifestyle Change for the New Year
Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota
Everyone knows that walking is good for you—but in circles? When we say that we have been “running around in circles” we usually mean that we haven’t gotten a thing done! So why would anyone choose to walk in circles?