The first beat of the heart means life and its last beat means death. The medium that the heart uses to act upon our body is blood, which combines with the breath to carry the life-principal, or prana, building up and maintaining the body in its endless circulations throughout life.
Physiologically, the heart is the hardest worked organ in the body. It pulsates thousands of times every day driving eight tons of blood through the arteries from head to toe. Psychologically, the heart is the seat of the ego, for our feelings, emotions and thoughts – which is why whenever we say “I feel” or “Oh my God”, we automatically put a hand on our heart-chakra which is responsible for our relationships with others. When we feel friendly and loving towards others, our heart-chakra expands and when we are in grief, sadness, loneliness, stress or feel hostile towards another, it gets blocked.
Anti-social people and those who can’t get along with their own family and friends have an imbalanced heart-chakra which translates physically as blockages. If you want to avoid surgery and stents, fill your heart with love for everyone and everything that life offers. Of course, this is the opinion of a lay person like me but nothing is lost in trying it! Boundless love and compassion results in a healthy heart while negative emotion results in imbalance, leading to physical discomfort like chest-pains.
When this vital chakra is blocked by negativity, various aspects of your life are affected and you feel listless, sad, anxious, hyper and angry, in which case, you attract lots of unpleasant events because like attracts like. This may also result in failure of your personal relationships. The Katha Upnishad says that: “When all the knots of the heart are unloosened, then even here, in this human birth, mortal becomes the immortal.” Basically, the inclinations of the heart are love and peace which is why we say ‘follow your heart’. When the heart’s natural sensitivity to open up and share is replaced by negativity towards others, we say that such and such person is ‘hard-hearted’.
So, how do we transform the heart chakra? Spend time with young children and pets. Get down to their level of playing. Follow their lead. You can also reconnect with an old friend or make new friends. Let them know what they mean to you. If you have children, hug them and tell them how much you love them. You can also do a lot of other things. Put up pictures of loved ones or a heart-centered spiritual teacher. Take care of your diet and incorporate vegetables and leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, basil and parsley into your diet to nourish your heart chakra through ‘satvic’ food. Use floral perfumes, like rose and lavender to lift your spirits. Consciously increase your positive thoughts, your sense of spirituality, feelings of hope, joy and happiness. Chant your prayers daily even if it is just a series of Yathas, Ashems and Yenghey-Hataams whenever the mind is free. This is very helpful because the heart-chakra is associated with the vibration sound of prayer-mantras.
You can also perform an anonymous random act of kindness everyday. See how it makes you feel. Spend time in natural settings, gardens are especially good. Visit art galleries known for their open-heartedness and appreciation of colours and forms. Live in Sat-Chit-Anand no matter what your outward circumstances are.
Is that all we can do to keep our heart chakra healthy? No, we can do more. Just as base metal is transmuted into gold, we have to consciously transform our gross and negative Karmas into our highest spiritual potential. We are our own healers and alchemists. Even Fritjoff Capra who was an atheist, admits in his book, ‘The Tao of Physics’, that “a loving and sharing heart produces photons of high energy and spiritual momentum which attracts people to it”. This is why we feel happy in the company of some people who have a loving nature but feel uncomfortable in the presence of others even if they are family members.
So every morsel of love we give not only helps us balance our karmic debts, but it also brings us that much closer to reunion with God. Realizing that love can help balance the debts we owe others has helped me see all kinds of relationships as learning experiences and opportunities to give more love, even if that love is rejected sometimes.
Another way to look at our initiations of love is through the lens of. ‘Bhakti yoga.’ In Hinduism, one of the four yogas (or paths to union with God) is bhakti, the yoga of divine love. Bhakti yoga is practiced in different ways, but at its essence it is devotion to God above all else – a devotion that leads to the heart of God.
Whenever we reach out to touch another, we are really sending the arrow of love to God’s heart. When we serve another human being, whether a confused child, the cranky co-worker or the eccentric elderly woman who unfairly held up the elevator – we are serving God who lives within each one of us. Each one of us wears a mask, in a sense, and behind the mask is the living presence of the Spirit. The mask itself may be seemingly imperfect, yet we know that the Lord of Love lives within. In reality, love comes from only one source and we are grateful that many people in our lives have been beautiful instruments of that Divine love.