It took me over half a century before I began to give myself permission to listen to my heart. Not just permission. Authority to trust it. My religious training had taught me not to trust my heart. They said the heart was only feelings and emotions. Instead, I was supposed to trust what a bunch of men in the fourth through the sixteenth centuries said was true. This was the thinking of patriarchal, testosterone-dominated men.
However, the meaning of the “heart” when you read it in wisdom literature refers to the core of your being, not merely to emotions. The core of your being includes your inner voice, your intellect, your life experiences, your feelings and emotions, your ability to think creativity, and everything that has made you the person you are today.
You are a very special creation. Science continues to verify that fact. You’ve been given the only tool you will ever need to determine the truth. You were given a heart. Some people have never learned to listen to their heart. I learned it through the practice of meditation. Let me give you five reasons why you should listen to your heart:
1. Everything fed into your brain during your youth is not necessarily true. Your brain is like a computer. It produces what has been fed into it. A child has no prior information or life experience to fall back on to determine what is true. Your brain wasn’t fully developed until you were in your twenties. Only then was it capable of thinking conceptually. The spiritual journey can’t move forward until you give yourself permission to unlearn (sort through what you’ve been told and analyze what you received) and learn to listen to your heart as you reassess the information you were given. Your heart will help you overcome untruth that has been fed into your brain.
2. Your emotions are tools, not truth. They help heart decide what to accept as truth. Think of emotions as flags. They merely alert you to what you have chosen to be important to you. They help you sort out all the information your brain receives so that you can focus on what is of value to you. Emotions validate what you like. They warn you if something you value is being threatened. That’s all they do. Emotions don’t give you the truth. Your brain helps you to analyze the flags your emotions send up. Good emotions are yellow flags. They say, “This affirms what I value most.” Then you can analyze if this is supposed to hold more value than something else. Negative emotions are red flags. They say, “This is a threat to something that I have placed as a priority in my life.” Use your heart (intellect, awareness, reason) to determine if what you imagine is being threatened is really worth as much as what can be lost if you react to it. Act according to your ability to reason, not according to a flag no matter what the color.
3. Your heart, the core of your being, is the home of God, the Force, the Universal Truth, the Ultimate Goodness, whatever term you apply to the Originator of Life. Your body is a temple in which the Spirit of God lives. This is taught numerous times in the Christian Bible. It’s taught in many religions older than Christianity. One problem is that it is not given much weight in Christianity today. I have hope that one day it will be lifted to a higher position of importance.
4. Concerning religion, i.e. Christianity, everything you read in the Bible is not necessarily true. Many accept what has been said about the Bible—that it is without error. How can anyone argue with this if they have no knowledge of Hebrew or Greek, the original languages in which it was written? But I am able to argue with it. I had training in Greek and have been interpreting it for over fifteen years. I have no problem thinking the people who wrote it in the original languages were offering good advice. I have a big problem with how the sixteenth century translators converted parts of it into English. Therefore, as I read the New Testament in the English versions, I have to trust my heart in order to glean its truth. It continues to be worthy of analyzing its wisdom despite human errors. Yet trust your heart. Use your power of reasoning to weigh what is written and compare it with your life experiences. If you want some evidence of where I disagree with current translations, you can check out my newest book here. It explains how the texts concerning divorce and remarriage should be translated so they make more sense.
5. When you trust the truth other people have put in your brain above your heart, then you have turned over your life to them. Their truth becomes your truth and you can only act according to what you believe is true. Therefore, they control you for as long as you believe it. Let me give you an example. If someone tells you that you are worthless, you can choose to accept it or not. If you accept it, you will berate yourself endlessly. This negativity will affect every decision you make. On the other hand, if you reject that you are worthless and instead replace that information, accepting that you are a temple of the most awesome Goodness imaginable, you will make completely different choices in the way you respond to life challenges.
Take control of your life. Take control of your actions. Start learning to listen to your heart— your inner voice, your intellect, your life experiences, what your feelings and emotions are telling you is a priority, your ability to think creativity, and everything that has made you the person you are today. How do you do that? Practice, practice, practice