ESSENTIAL HEART PRACTICE

with Hanneli Ågotsdatter

AUDIO · Duration: 14 min

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It is so thought-provoking: In Christianity and in Judaism, the heart is the seat of the soul. For Aristotle, who did not count the brain as something special, reason dwelt in the heart. For Buddhism and Hinduism, emotions are attached to the heart of crucial spiritual importance. For the Aztecs, the heart contained a piece of the life-giving heat of the sun. For the Egyptians, contact with the heart was the way to life after death. The heart of the dead was weighed by the god Anubis, its weight was determined by how the life of the dead had been. "The heart of man," reads an Egyptian inscription, "is its own God."

In our modern world, we know first and foremost the heart as the biomechanical pump in our chest. Primary school children learn from the very small classes long lines of mental skills: knowing the clock, mastering the four types of arithmetic, knowing the traffic rules, reading and writing. But rarely they have classes which educate the heart skills which for the above-mentioned spiritual traditions were and are crucially important.

‘A more peaceful world can become reality only if we educate, not just the brain, but also the heart,’ writes His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in his article, Education of the Heart.

In this meditation, Hanneli leads us gently towards the heart - from the very concrete body feeling and from the breath.

This meditation point towards how we, supported by the breath and the awareness, can connect the heart feelings with our notion or intuition of something higher, an openness, our ressources or maybe even something we would call a spiritual dimension. By connecting the heart and what is called the essence point 30 centimeters above our head, we can lean towards an energy circulation that already exists.

Should it be too abstract a thought, we can, completely ‘unmystically’ let this exercise be a form of creative imagination, based on concrete emotions: the experience of a higher meaning coupled with the care, compassion and love for ourself, others and the world.

Heart practice like this one is first and foremost practical and existential: We nurture our ability to care, and feel tolerance and compassion in interaction with others.

 

'Only from the heart can you touch the sky.'

- Rumi

LISTEN TO THE MEDITATION HERE:
Hanneli 2021

Hanneli Ågotsdatter

M.A., psychotherapist, architect and meditation teacher. She is the founder of Kontemplation which offers MBSR-programs and group retreats where mindfulness, presence yoga, compassion and creativity are interwoven into an integrated practice.

She is a part of the organizational group behind The Danish Society for the Promotion of Life Wisdom in Children, an association placing special emphasis on relational competence, teaching the practice of empathy and presence to professionals working with children and young people.

Hanneli is a contemplative faculty member at Center for System Awareness, Boston and she leads Mind and Life Europe's yearly retreats for young scholars.

Hanneli lives at Vækstcenteret, a contemplative community in Denmark under the guidance of founder Jes Bertelsen. She divides her time between counseling, teaching, and long-term individual meditation retreats.

Foto: Claudio Testa / Unsplash