When tasked with choosing between the lesser of two evils i.e., two equally bad options, or the converse, two equally good options, you do the most rational thing: solicit advice from someone wiser than yourself. What happens next leaves you confounded. The said "wise person" answers your question without really answering your question.
Enter the realm of cliched phrases with the crowning glory residing with the phrase "listen to your heart". If my heart had the ability to grow wings, extricate itself from the chest cavity and allow itself to become fluent in English, that might have been a possibility. Despite our ability to rationalize every facet of our lives, why is it that we give and receive the advice "follow your heart" with utmost conviction? Strange, isn't it, that we dismiss the superior processing capabilities of our brains and look instead toward the heart to pave the way? I didn't fully appreciate the wisdom behind this phrase until I was faced with a dilemma of my own. One that impacted my life ever since.
Most people have plan A and plan B. My more industrious overachievers even have a Plan C. I, on the other hand? I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor. The ability to someday give the gift of life or save one appealed to me on a fundamental level, more so than anything else. I spent more hours in a research lab during my high school summers than the lab rats scientists experimented with. On a whim, after my stint at the research lab, I decided to heed the advice of my teachers and enrolled in a business camp one summer to explore what initially appeared to be the mysterious and confounding world of numbers.
What ensued during the following two weeks at the business camp shook the very fundamental belief I held about my future. While the sciences represented the world of white coats, the financial services represent the world of black coats. Colors aside, while doctors saved lives, finance professionals saved companies. Friends who know me really well joke to this day about this period in my life, for I would solicit advice about my career decision from anyone who would listen. While everyone had an opinion, the ones of those who mattered most told me some variation of “follow your heart”, except, my heart was busier pumping blood than it was conversing with me.
I sat in my room for the longest time, making large lists of pros and cons. I had more coffee networking with finance professionals than I did within my cumulative four years in high school. One look at my “about me” page and there’s no points for guessing that I picked finance as my major in college. To this day I’m unsure whether the decision I took was one that came from the heart, but one thing I do know is that I made one from the mind. However, over the years I have uncovered that the language of the heart is loud enough for those who listen.
Bear with me as I explain…
Surely most of us have experienced those eerie moments when our intuition has nudged us toward something or has instilled within us an inexplicable feeling, be it good or bad. That feeling which seemingly originates out of nowhere, actually emanates from the heart, the center of what most cultures call “the universal intelligence.” Intuition is merely a synonym for the language of the heart. The heart masks itself within intuitions, premonitions, love, gratitude, etc. Scientists are now discovering that humans aren’t even close to scratching the surface of all the functions the heart is capable of. There are tens of thousands of neurons that convey information from the heart to the brain, so much so that an entire field of study, neurocardiology, is dedicated to this phenomenon. These very neurons make the heart capable of making decisions independent of the cerebral cortex of the brain. Talk about being “heart smart!”
In Hinduism, it’s believed that humans are spiritual beings with seven chakras (read: energy vortices). The centermost chakra, called anahata, resides within the heart. Anahata is a Sanskrit word for “unstruck” and/or “unhurt”, indicative of the sound an unstruck bell would make. Ever wondered why yogis chant “om”? It’s because the resonance of chanting om matches the sound of the fourth chakra, thereby connecting you to your source of purity. This is perhaps the reason why we’re often told to open our hearts to those less fortunate than ourselves or even listen with an open heart, and not an open ear, for the heart has the ability to communicate through unconventional means.
The vast majority of our day is spent honing our minds to become more agile through learning and application of concepts at work and school. Seemingly, we even do a decent job of nourishing our bodies with healthy food and regular exercise. Why then, don’t we nourish the soul by clearing the chatter within our minds and seek to reach the depths of the energy vortex wherein resides the purity of ones soul. Open your heart and feel the emotions that reside in the source of your being: compassion, kindness, purity, patience, joy, etc.
If your heart could speak, what would it say? Would it see your iron clad grip over your life or would it encourage you to open your palms to the wonders of the Universe? Allow your head to bow down to acknowledge the light that resides within you and every other being. What a moment to be alive!