The Deep Heart: Our Portal to Presence
The heart has long been a focal point in spiritual development. But what does it have to do with performance, with self-awareness, with flow?
In this conversation with therapist and spiritual teacher John Prendergast, PhD we explore how to guide our clients into the intelligence of the heart, how to foster trust and flow and the somatic markers of inner knowing.
Somatic Markers of Inner Knowing
The less attached we are to our self-image and story the more freedom we feel and the greater capacity we have for compassion. This is not only good for our humanity but also for our performance. Inherent in this is a willingness to be led by something greater than ourselves, a spontaneous intelligence that is always available to us.
Attuning to a quiet open awake loving awareness, often in the background of our awareness and unnoticed. Normally our attention is absorbed in our thinking and sensations – rarely do we pay attention to awareness itself, the container for thought and sensation. As we become more aware of it we become present.
John identifies four somatic markers of inner knowing: open-heartedness, spaciousness, groundedness and a sense of inner alignment. These markers also act as portals to the space of inner knowing; a unification of awareness with the universal field of awareness, a lack of judgement, a felt sense of presence.
Developing the Intelligence of the Heart
The heart area is an area of great sensitivity and knowing; it’s probably the most accessible portal for most people. It also facilitates the work on our conditioning and wounding that is an inevitable companion to awakening.
As we foster the heart centre we become able to feel much deeper gratitude and compassion and a sense of unity with the whole of life. It provides a different way of knowing from the habitual mental knowing that we are culturally attuned to.
This state of being enables us to have a very different orientation towards life, one that includes a greater trust and flow. There’s a sense of homecoming, a fullness of being, an inner peace with what is. From this place we can start to take action from a very different place.
Working with the Heart
To help our clients connect to the heart we can invite them to place a hand on the heart area, to breathe into it, to notice if there are any emotions or sensations present in that area. This assists any frozen emotions that are linked to beliefs (often from childhood) to come to the surface, be witnessed, and begin to be integrated.
The more work we do of this kind, the more we start to operate from this field of wakeful loving awareness and the whole bodymind starts to reorient to our true nature. As the heart opens and deepens there’s also a liberation of authentic, unconditioned qualities such as love, compassion, gratitude, kindness and appreciation.
These qualities are emergent rather than created within us (as a compensatory endeavour), and as we deepen into our beingness with what is, we allow more flow.