“Lead with your heart!” commands the aerial instructor up from the ground as I arduously attempt a new climb up the “silk” fabrics. Of course, she literally means for me to let my upper chest lead the movements of a graceful dance. She has no idea how many levels of meaning her instruction has for me — that I wouldn’t be here at this Athletic Playground if I hadn’t followed my heart in the first place, and at last.
I have been wanting to hang from trapezes and play on ropes ever since I was a child, and this elemental desire was renewed when I saw the film Wings of Desire decades ago. The protagonist is an angel who watches over a circus performer in Berlin, and wants to give up his wings to go back into the material world. But I digress, see it for yourself; it’s a sweet story.
“Follow your heart” is almost a cliché these days, yet still a meaningful and essential principle. As I become increasingly aware of the pure, simple wisdom that is generated with this powerful and central organ, I live by it more and more. And as I’ve learned, and now teach, the techniques created by HeartMath, I have tuned in to the whispers of my own heart, which seems to speak an honest language of simple preferences, almost binary, like an organism in a petri dish that moves either toward or away from a substance that some lab technician drops into its environment.
The heart speaks in whispers, while the mind tends to shout over it, especially when one’s nervous system is not in a synchronized, or “coherent” state. But when there is coherence in the nervous system, and the heart and brain are in balance, the mind amplifies the heart’s message and *Bing!* you get an idea that just flows and feels like the right thing to do. Suddenly something can appear so obvious that you wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner.
If it’s a big idea, you feel an urgency, like you’d better do it now, or should have done it yesterday, but now will have to do. Sometimes, it’s more subtle, like “I don’t want to make the usual turn here, I think I’ll take the long way home.” Being in a state of coherence is being in the flow. Life becomes simpler, clearer, with fewer hiccups and mistakes that need undoing.
And scientifically, the state of coherence is no longer a mystery. Measurable chemical reactions occur in our bodies when we’re in it. More importantly, we can take concrete actions to promote that wonderful, healthful state. It can be as simple as going to your favorite place with your best friend, or snuggling with your pet, or even — and this is where it gets really interesting — imagining doing one of those things.
HeartMath provides techniques to get you there as well. The first one includes focusing on your heart as you regulate your breathing. From there, it gets better and more powerful, and soon you too may be an AARP member doing figures on a trapeze, or climbing aerial silks while a twenty-something instructor reinforces the notion to “lead with your heart!”