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The Heart Still Calls
Michael D. Thomas, D.C.

This world we live in can feel more brutal and confusing by the day,
sometimes by the hour! The complexity and intensity of our lives calls
for redoubling our efforts just at the point where, in many of our
lives, we’d really rather lay down and take a nap! Stress from the
conflicts with which we are presented, make our thoughts and feelings
seem like they’re all punctuated with an exclamation point!

Undeniably, the late nineties have brought an intensity to our lives that
is stretching many of us to our limits. Opening the newspaper readily
illustrates an ongoing daily crop of people who, reaching their limits,
snapped. Insane violence by all ages makes us afraid to walk our streets
or even leave our homes. Violence turned inward robs so many of
happiness and peace in their own lives as they become lost in drug and
alchohol addiction. One-pointed concentration on work has gutted our
families and in these days, not even provided us with the security to
keep our jobs let alone have long-term financial security.

It seems obvious now that we can no longer look to our leaders to guide
us. They seem to be as lost (or more so) than most of their
electorate. Ethics and morality do not seem to be most politician’s
strong suit and we begin to wonder where all the role models went. There
is a frightening loss of general meaning floating through our society.
Old answers don’t seem to work anymore and not much makes sense.

The answers to life have not gone away. The deep wisdom needed to guide
us out of the social chaos in which we find ourselves at the end of the
millennium, remains in the same place it has always been, in our hearts.

We have been so proud of our heads. Intellectual advances have rewritten
our sense of the possible several times in this one century. This same
intellectual achievement that has brought us so much has also devastated
our air and land and water, created the ability to annihilate the world in
a nuclear cloud of radioactive dust and given the balance of power to
those who view the world as a market to be plundered.

Our hearts know better. Heart is where we connect to the creative force
of the universe. Heart is where we connect with each other. Heart is
where our deepest wisdom resides. The best part of writing this to you
is that you don’t have to take my word for it. You have your own heart
connection. It may take a bit of courage to let your attention shift
from your head to your heart. This is only fitting, because the word
courage comes from the Latin, “cor”, meaning heart.

Our heads are so very useful for thinking and figuring and analyzing.
They are poor managers however, of perspective in life. Many of us run
our worries through our heads over and over. Each re-running of this
“tape loop” amplifies it a little bit. After days, or weeks, or years,
an issue can overturn the balance of our lives. Once an issue is
analyzed by the head it often calls us to action. The alarm that is
sounded is frequently one of anxiety or fear. If we break the lead on
our pencil, our head is adequate to tell us to go sharpen the pencil. In
this complex world, however, many problems are not so simple to
correct. The fabric of our lives is interwoven with a multitude of
knotty problems, (many with knots inside knots!) not so easy to unravel.
This leaves the issue to continue to circulate in our heads, increasing
our anxiety and fear with each internal replay. Many of us have
forgotten we are calling out for an answer. And, we have forgotten where
our deepest answers reside.

We have forgotten our connection. Somehow the heart has been rejected as
silly, mushy and sentimental, ineffective to help with the problems of
today. I am saying that many of our problems today are the result of
this loss of heart in our society and in our selves; -and that our
answers are always found in our remembering.

We now know through published scientific studies, that five minutes of
negative thinking can result in significantly decreased function of the
immune system for up to six hours. We also know, through other studies,
that heartfelt feelings of care and appreciation can boost immune
function, decrease the stress hormones in our systems (like cortisol and
adrenalin), and produce an amazing increase in DHEA, the “mother of all
hormones” which is directly associated with “aliveness”. Kids have high
levels of DHEA and it tends to statisticallly decline until death. We
don’t have to go buy our “aliveness” in a store. We can instead, learn
how to manage our thoughts and emotions. By learning how to “follow our
heart”, we can begin to perceive the deeper answers that eluded us
before.

Sometimes I hear people say they aren’t quite sure what I mean when I
refer to heart wisdom or they aren’t sure how to listen to their own
heart. Just about every mother and father who has ever held their baby
in their arms and looked into their child’s little face, has felt the
depths and magnitude of love in their hearts and the feeling of
connection between themselves and the tiny soul in their grasp. It
happens unexpectedly when a stranger chooses to care for a moment. It
happens when standing in the evening, watching a glorious sunset. There
can be a stir in the heart when looking at the beauty of a flower.
Anything can trigger our awareness of heart. All we have to do is be
willing to put our attention there.

The risk of heartfelt feeling is the risk of opening our heart to others.
We must feel safe enough to be a little vulnerable. To open to
ourselves, let alone another, requires courage, heart. We have all
probably had our hearts “broken” by another. This pain causes many to
close their hearts to the risk of more pain. Paradoxically, the greatest
pain is caused by living life with a closed heart. Ask yourself if this
is true. This is the most important question of our times and each of us
must live the answer. Must I protect myself from life or can I open to
life’s possibilities? Saying yes to a heartfelt life reveals that
within the vulnerability of submission to love is a strength previously
unimagined. The deeper connection reveals answers that simply aren’t
available when the focus is left in anxiety and fear.

Faith Popcorn is a well-known futurist who writes of coming trends. She
describes two main possibilities for the future, one of gloom and one of
hope. She too, sees difficult times ahead, but the long view must be,
she argues, one of hope. It’s possible that we won’t survive what is
ahead, but if we do, we will have learned how to honor the connection we
have with the earth and with each other. She asks, and I agree,-which
scenerio you want to prepare for? Will you choose to live in the heart,
becoming aware of your connection and interconnectedness? Or will you
choose to live an anxious and fearful life, constantly ruminating on
possible calamity? What kind of life are you choosing to live today?
And what kind of lessons are you giving to your children?

We will never change the problems of our world by retreating into gated,
guarded, exclusive communities. All the guns and security systems in the
world won’t protect us from a heartless world. We know its true because
our very language is crafted from this collective insight. At the heart
of the matter is love. We can turn our self-loathing into love of self.
We can turn our fear of others into a love of our brothers and sisters.
In the words of an old Quaker song, “by turning and turning, we’ll come
round right.”

We all want to feel love in our hearts. All we have to do is to choose
to listen to the still small voice within us. It has never abandoned us,
some of us have just forgotten to listen. Take courage, take heart.
Teach the children.