How to Awaken to Whole-hearted Living

I was in a workshop a few years ago with Kate Hofer where Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist, educator, and author, directed us to pay attention to the four-chambered heart—not the physical four chambers, rather the emotional four chambers of the heart.

In her book, The Four-Fold Way, she explains that the Four-Chambered Heart is full, open, clear and strong. For vision to be 20:20 the heart must be firing on all chambers.

  • Where are you currently full-hearted in your life and work?
  • Where is your heart open to new ideas, people and experiences?
  • What are you clear about with respect to your vision, values and behavior?
  • What situations require courage and perseverance, the fruit of strong-heartedness?

What are you awakening to? Any unhealthy thinking patterns and limiting assumptions: where you may be are stuck in resistance thinking, and how you can transform your thinking into possibility thinking.

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The following three books explore the importance of studying and learning from our heart’s perspective.

The Gifts of Imperfection

Brené Brown is a researcher and a storyteller, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging. In her book, Gifts of Imperfection, she shares ten guideposts of wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Some Favorite Quotes

“In the process of collecting thousands of stories from diverse men and women who lived all over the country, I saw new patterns that I wanted to know more about Yes, we all struggle with shame and the fear of not being enough. And, yes, many of us are afraid to let our true selves be seen and known. And in this huge mound of data there was also story after story of men and women who were living these amazing and inspiring lives.”

“As I started analyzing the stories and looking for re-occurring themes, I realized that the patterns generally fell into one of two columns. One column brimmed with words like worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. The other column was dripping with words like perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity.”

“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important; but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.”

“People may call what happens at midlife ‘a crisis,’ but it’s not. It’s an unraveling—a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re ‘supposed’ to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are. These unraveling journeys could include: marriage, divorce, becoming a parent, recovery, moving, an empty next, retiring, experiencing loss or trauma, or working in a soul-sucking job.”

“It’s not something we accomplish or acquire and then check off our life. It’s life work. It’s soul work. It’s a process, the journey of a lifetime.

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The HeartMath Solution

Doc Childre and Howard Martin, in their book, The HeartMath Solution, ask the following personal-evaluation questions. What is you could easily . . .

  • Make better decisions?
  • Gain control of your emotions?
  • Enhance creativity?
  • Reduce high blood pressure?
  • Increase personal productivity?
  • Slow down aging?

You can, simply by understanding your heart’s intelligence—which has more impact of our emotions, our mind, and our physical health than was ever thought possible.

Breakthrough scientific research proves that the heart is the control tower of the body’s systems and overall health. Pioneers of this research have developed a program to harness the power of the heart with simple, proven techniques. These life-altering techniques will show you how to deepen the qualities long associated with the heart—wisdom, compassion, courage, love, strength, and joy.

Some Favorite Quotes

“This book shows in depth, how the heart is at the core of our body and at the core of how we think and feel. The solution is derived from realizing that the heart is both a physical object, a rhythmic organ, and love itself. It recognizes the heart as the central rhythmic force in the body and shows us how to use the coherent power of love to manage our thoughts and emotions. Like a pebble that creates a ripple of waves where dropped into a still pond, so love and positive feelings in the heart create a rhythm that spreads health and sell-being throughout the body.”

“The intention of this book is to confirm to you, the reader, what you may already feel or know—that the heart is involved in understanding yourself, people, and life. If you take to heart what you read and make even a small sincere effort to apply what you learn, you’ll experience a profound shift in your perceptions and emotions. Life will respond accordingly. It won’t take years to benefit from the HeartMath Solution. In fact, it will save years of looking for answers that are only as far away as the shift from mind to heart.”

“As we enter the new millennium, our increasingly global society is faced with daunting challenges. Many important institutions and systems that we rely on for security and order are in disarray. Largely because of all this change, stress is at an all-time high. As Albert Einstein said years ago, ‘The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.’ To live happily and healthily in all the turmoil that progress brings requires exploring new idea.”

“Heart Intelligence is the intelligent flow of awareness and insight that we experience once the mind and emotions are brought into balance and coherence through a self-initiated process. This form of intelligence is experienced as direct, intuitive knowing that manifests to thoughts and emotions that are beneficial for ourselves and others.

In other words, heart intelligence is really the source of emotional intelligence. From our research at the Institute of HeartMath, we’ve concluded that intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own heart. It’s through learning how to decipher the messages we receive from our heart that we can the keen perception needed to effectively manage our emotions in the midst of life’s situation and challenges.”

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Heart Minded

Sarah Blondin has written a book about being heart minded—how to hold yourself and others in love. Heart Minded includes a variety of meditations and teachings to help you detach from your busy, and perhaps sometimes frantic mind and tune into your feelings heart. You may have turned away from your heart and stayed in your mind. Sarah Blondin suggests that we can learn to re-open to and live from our heart.

Some Favorite Quotes

“Each of us has unique reasons for shutting down our hearts and hiding the part of ourselves we are ashamed of. We tuck wounds and vulnerabilities deep inside and make our bodies battlegrounds. We push down and away all the ways of being and feeling that we sense—or are explicitly told—are ‘unacceptable,’ and create rifts between the self we present to the world and what is really going on inside us. Everything we hide and suppress siphons energy we could be using to create a beautiful life and blocks us from accessing joy and abundance, dulling and dimming the light of who we are.”

“To discover the language and message of our hearts, we need to take the time to look deep within ourselves. We must decide to search for the tender parts of us we have abandoned and hidden away. Our hearts house the essence of life and source. They are the well of divinity within us which when aligned with, awakened, and re-connected to, will eradicate and heal, forgive and dispel, and reconcile and release each hurtful relationship and memory. Our hearts are the source of our inspiration to spread and stir love and goodness throughout the world.”

“If you want to live a heart-minded life, the decision is yours. It begins by making the choice to take just one small step toward yourself, instead of away. More importantly, you need tender, gentle, and constant encouragement to strengthen your resolve in keeping your heart open, especially when your finely tuned instincts to protect are activated. This book is built of practices that will do just that. And don’t just read it, live it. Learn what your heart wants you to know, find your antidotes to the hindrances around your heart. Practice.”

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The beginning of a new year offers a chance to evaluate where you are in your heart. Any effort you make to connect or re-connect with your heart intelligence will bring you closer to whole-hearted living.

When you are full-hearted, you are consistent, trustworthy, and committed; not half-hearted.

When you are strong-hearted, you are courageous—able to face conflict in honest and creative ways.

When you are open-hearted, you see life and the human experience as friendly and have a positive attitude. You are willing to learn.

When you are clear-hearted, you are certain, congruent within yourself, and patient; not confused.

4 replies on “How to Awaken to Whole-hearted Living”

I really appreciate what you brought up about the importance of the heart and four chambers of the heart, we think of body parts we use and see all the time but not so much the inner most import part, the part that makes everything else work and function the way its supposed to work, using the heart makes everything else meaningful, not just going through the motions…. Thank you!

So good to read your thoughts about whole-hearted living. I’m in the
middle of evaluating some of my activities—not wanting to go through life
doing some things half-heartedly, or as you wrote, “going through the motions.”
It’s made a difference.

Well, that’s one good reason to read the book—an enticing cover.
Another reason, is that there are lots of heart-minded exercises included
for study. The HeartMath Solution is excellent for that also,
as well as The Gifts of Imperfection.

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