Seeking love keeps you from the awareness
that you already have it—that you are it.
— Byron Katie
For years I understood the concepts of loving more and unconditional acceptance. I knew the woman I wanted to be: more loving, more accepting, more compassionate. But in day-to-day living I struggled with keeping my heart open, especially when I felt afraid.
In my quest to soften my heart I noticed a direct correlation between my heart and my judge: When my own critical voice was loud, my heart closed. Even with this awareness my inner judge continued to torment me, and my heart stayed armored and protected.
Believe it or not, it was a painting of an ancient eagle that catapulted me into a new relationship with my heart. It was 1996, and I was with don Miguel Ruiz and a group at the pyramids of Teotihuacan, Mexico. I was quietly meditating in front of a mural of an eagle when suddenly I had a vision of the eagle leaping out of the wall, grabbing my heart in its beak, and flying to the sun.
Releasing Fears About Love
I had been praying to release my fears around a relationship I was in, and I intuitively knew the message that was being given to me through this vision: Your heart does not belong to you or anyone else; it is of the Universe. Let it shine like the sun. Do not attach your heart to this or that; let your heart be a reflection of the love of the Universe, one that emanates pure light.
I realized in the intense moment of that experience that my authentic heart could not break, or be given away, or belong to one person, or even have preferences. My heart was not a separate organ, but the whole Universe of stars and space pulsing in my chest. I felt and understood how intimately I was connected with everything, and how fiercely I loved all of it! The pleasure, the pain, the suffering, the joy, the lover, the thief, the lady at the checkout stand, my best friend were all sacred, pure love in motion viewed through the eyes of my true heart.
A Fundamental Shift From Head (Fear) to Heart (Love)
Over time, I realized that in my experience with the eagle at Teotihuacan, a fundamental shift had happened in my being. My center of gravity had moved from my head to my heart. While the judge in my mind could still hook my attention, it was no longer the one who led. Sometime after this experience I made a mistake, and a sweet inner voice said, “Whoops, let’s try that again!” I froze in surprise. After years and years of my internal judge pushing me to be better, to try harder, to be perfect, this gentle self-acceptance was unfamiliar.
At first I was suspicious, as if an old enemy had suddenly started bringing me chocolate and sending flowers. Why was I being nice to myself for making a mistake? Was the judge going to return and punish me further down the road? What if my judge was right, and being nice to myself made me soft so I’d make more mistakes, or become complacent?
As I continued to watch the transformation of my inner dialogue from fear (mind) to love (heart), I saw how being motivated by the fearful judge drained my energy and kept me anxious and on edge, while being inspired and guided by my accepting heart helped me feel happier, confident, and more flexible.
Releasing Old Stories and Living From Your Heart
Things really started to shift when I started being in a relationship with my mind from my heart. This is an important lesson of a Warrior Goddess heart: Be compassionate and fiercely loving with yourself as you unwind old knots and fears and grow your heart’s capacity. Really living from your heart takes a warrior’s tools: patience, perseverance, and humor.
We have a tendency to armor our hearts if we do not feel secure, if we experience physical, emotional, or sexual trauma, and/or if we do not feel powerful. This is why purifying your vessel, releasing old stories, and claiming your strengths are so important. Not doing these things will leave your heart feeling fragile and vulnerable, and what we perceive as vulnerable we will protect.
We protect our heart in numerous ways: physically by rounding our shoulders and sinking the chest in, emotionally by closing down our access to feelings for fear of pain, and mentally by believing we can be broken or destroyed unless we stay isolated. This type of protection gives us the illusion that we are in control and safe.
The glass barriers we put around our heart cause us to fear being shattered. But the heart is wise and strong beyond measure when we give it space to unfurl. Scientific studies are now proving that the heart has an innate wisdom of its own, not connected to the mind.
In their groundbreaking book The HeartMath Solution, Doc Childe and Howard Martin draw on over thirty years of scientific research to prove that the heart is not just an organ that pumps blood; it is the true intellectual center of our being.
When the heart leads, the mind becomes more focused and relaxed. When you consciously activate the intelligence of your heart, your creativity and intuition rise and your stress and anxiety decrease.
How To Access Your Heart's Wisdom
So how do you access your heart’s wisdom? At its core, your heart is a great teacher and friend. But around this core of truth is a gnarled web of mental lies and fears. When you bring your awareness into the light of your true heart, you can illuminate and release the mental stories that close your heart.
One of the primary heart-armoring beliefs we carry is that people can hurt you. Yes, it is true that your physical body can be hurt. But is your physical body “you”? It is true that your emotional body can be hurt. Is your emotional body “you”? There are many people who are crippled or in emotional pain, but their essence is untouched.
If you believe you are only your body or your emotions, you will constantly fear physical or emotional pain. Your armored heart will contract just thinking about the slightest possibility of physical or emotional pain, even if it is not happening! And this is what we spend most of our lives doing, worrying about how we are going to avoid pain and grasping after fleeting pleasures.
Staying in Fight-or-Flight Mode?
When we replay our physical or emotional fears over and over again, we are stuck in our focus on survival. This part of us is vital, but for most modern humans it is way out of balance. Imagine a deer that gets startled by a sound. All of her senses are honed, and she freezes and looks around for danger or flees to safety. If there is not an immediate threat, she is very quickly back to peacefully grazing.
When we link our survival to whether or not we are loveable or dwell on possible physical pain, we stay in fight-or-flight mode. We are constantly on survival high alert for rejection or abandonment or potential pain. Our mental false beliefs run our lives, telling us we are fragile or bad things are going to happen.
When we shift to our heart’s wisdom we know that we are always held, loved, and supported by the Universe, even if we are struggling in this moment. The mind can then rest into the heart and help us calm our nervous system down or find creative solutions when we feel threatened.
Waiting for a Romantic Fantasy
Another big tangle is the notion that there is someone outside who is “the one,” the one who will rescue you or love you devotedly or make you whole. We take an unbounded, infinite heart and tell it, “OK, there is only one person you are going to truly love and who can truly love you. So wait until you find this person, and then it will all be OK.”
This romantic fantasy is hugely prevalent in our culture, especially among women, though it is definitely not limited to females. For some of us, this need to live out a romantic fantasy is so strong that we sometimes enter into relationships that do not serve us. Two of the most common ways we do this are by either settling for a partnership that we know doesn’t fulfill us or by staying in relationships that are long dead. Or we may go to the other extreme, blaming this ideology as the cause for us to avoid any type of relationship since we haven’t found “the one,” and so we feel hopeless and give up (while secretly waiting, waiting, hoping, hoping).
When you live from this romantic fantasy, you put off your own life by waiting for an illusion. Because if you did find “the one” and you have not cleared out your fear and limitations, you will spend the relationship (after the initial bliss wears down a bit) worrying about how you are going to keep it! But the truth of the Warrior Goddess path is that you can only merge with another when you become your own “one” and free your heart from believing it needs outside acceptance, love, or support to be whole.
Opening Your Heart Wider Than Your Fears
When you open your understanding to the wider truth that nothing can hurt the real you, and that you need nothing and no one to be complete, you will feel the unbounded, unchangeable, unified spirit that you are. You will choose what type of relationships to be in, not based on fear (I should be in a relationship by now, I better get married so I can have kids, at least it is better than being alone), but rather from a place of unconditional self-love, where you will intuitively know what would best serve you in this time of your life. No part of your heart will need to close down, because you know that your heart can’t be broken.
This journey of opening the heart wider than our fears takes time and perseverance, as you have spent years training it to do the opposite. The next time you notice your heart starting to close off or become scared, the medicine to feed yourself is compassion and self-love.
Being a Warrior Goddess does not mean you never have emotional meltdowns, or that you never have a difficult day, or that you avoid heartbreak. Being a Warrior Goddess is about falling in love with all of you: with your judge self, your victim self, and your wise Warrior Goddess self. You are worthy of love, and the heart healing comes when you stop looking outside for love and open to the immense love your heart has for you.
*Subtitles added by InnerSelf
©2014 by HeatherAsh Amara. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hierophant Publishing.
Dist. by Red Wheel/Weiser, Inc. www.redwheelweiser.com
Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman You Are Meant to Be
by HeatherAsh Amara.
About the Author
HeatherAsh Amara is the founder of Toci -- the Toltec Center of Creative Intent, based in Austin, TX, which fosters local and global community that supports authenticity, awareness, and awakening. HeatherAsh studied and taught extensively with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, and continues to teach with the Ruiz family. Raised in Southeast Asia, HeatherAsh brings an openhearted, inclusive worldview to her writings and teachings, which are a rich blend of Toltec wisdom, European shamanism, Buddhism, and Native American ceremony. She is the author of several books: Warrior Goddess Training, The Toltec Path of Transformation, and is the co-author of No Mistakes: How You Can Change Adversity into Abundance.