Long, hot, lazy weekend afternoons… Lounging in a hammock, reading, sipping ice tea. Instinctively turning to poetry, specifically about love and the heart.
Something about the heat of the summer and the glow of the evening light ignites that steamy side; perhaps they rouse the fires of passion that have gone to sleep and hibernated over the winter.
When one is considering the topic of love and relationship, deciding to venture into that arena can feel rather daunting.
So many considerations to think about, right?
Actually, there’s only one…the heart connection, and that’s it.
And to understand the heart connection, one has to listen to the heart.
Yes, we have to listen for love.
Yes, it is not the ranting of a woman caught in the heat of the summer. It is the plain simple truth. We cannot find love by simply looking for it in the right (or wrong places). We have to listen for love.
That sounds odd, right? LIstening for love? Don’t I mean, looking for love?
No, I mean listening…for love.
The Music of the Heart
In an interesting collaborative study between Boston University’s Center for Polymer Studies Science Education Group and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s ReyLab, an interactive hands-on exhibit called The Music of the Heart was created and exhibited at the Boston Museum of Science.
“The “heart music” is derived from electrocardiogram (ECG) data— actual digital recordings of the electrical signals of the human heart. The hands-on exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science allowed museum-goers to hold onto bars to record their own electrocardiogram of approximately 25 beats and, in real time, listen to the ‘music’ it produced…These heart songs began as musical notes mapped from the heartbeat data. The composer then added harmonies and rhythm to make pleasant sounding music.” (1)
Interesting – the heart’s beat is put to notes and music is created. Perhaps the music of some hearts may find resonance in the heart of one particular type, while another music (of the heart) may resonate with a different type altogether. Perhaps some strange musical kind of attraction factor? Perhaps this is the reason why some people play musical chairs with partners all their life – always looking for a heart-mate but never finding the right one.
Another reason to listen for love, rather than look for it.
I’ve had my share of relationships, yet the most enduring connection with another was when I totally allowed my heart its’ lead and I obediently followed.
I listened to what my heart was saying, to my feelings, and I politely ignored all the negative gobbledygook that my mind was spewing forth. I had a heart connection with the person, and no matter what happened, it would still be there. The mind might attempt to destroy, dismantle, disavow, invalidate, however, it can’t destroy a heart connection. Once hooked up, it’s there, even for lifetimes.
What is our heart, truly?
“While the mind is the content of who we are, our heart is our essence. Our true heart is not subject to chaos or limited by pain, fear and neuroses, but is joyful, creative and loving.
Some believe the heart can be too uncertain and even misguided, but that is the head talking! The heart is a source of great richness, and this wealth is one that cannot be squandered or lost. It is the core, the essence of your being, a reservoir of joy, powerful love and infinite compassion that lies within you.”(2)
I listened for love rather than looked for it. I felt for love. I tuned into my feelings loud and clear because I felt in the deepest part of my soul, that was the strongest bond between sentient beings.
If you listen,
not to the pages or preachers
but to the smallest flower
growing from a crack
in your heart,
you will hear a great song
moving across a wide ocean
whose water is the music
connecting all the islands
of the universe together,
and touching all
you will feel it
embracing you with light. (3)
This poem by John Squadra is asking us to listen for that great song which connects us all – the energy and sound of love.
Listen for love rather than looking for it.
Or as Robert Bulwer-Lytton puts it, “A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.”
Perhaps the time has come in human history where we have to trust our hearts, listen with our heart rather than trusting our eyes, our mind, or friends’ opinions. Allow our hearts to guide us, our intuition to expand us. Trust and allow your heart, rather than the mind, to lead the way.
Perhaps this is easier said than done.
Judging books by their covers
I was with my niece a while ago and she was looking at prospective suitors on match.com.
She rifled through them, quickly glancing at their photos rather than stopping to read, to listen, to what their profiles said.
I inquired about her methodology and she replied that she was interested in a certain “look”, and if the person didn’t have the “look”, then she wasn’t interested.
I thought that she might be missing a jewel in that deleted pile of emails.
Perhaps he had sunglasses on, or someone took a picture that wasn’t entirely flattering, or it just wasn’t a great day for him, or he attempted to take a selfie and it made his face look out of proportion.
It occurred to me that she wasn’t taking the time to read about these people, to listen to what they had to say. She’s not the only one who’s guilty of this – our whole society judges books by their covers, rapidly forming opinions about strangers which only create separation, rather than connection.
So how do we create this heart connection with others? I believe it begins with self.
Listen to your heart
Listening to ones’ own heart becomes a practice for listening for love. It needs to be remembered or perhaps learned as it’s currently not our normal way of being in this day and age. We’re in a hurry to accomplish, to achieve, to become rather than to simply be – be in touch with ourselves, our emotions, our body, our minds, and ultimately our heart.
Mr. Squadra continues with his eloquent images of the heart:
…But if you feel something in your chest
as beautiful as the grass beneath your feet,
be grateful…open your arms
and forget everything
you ever thought you knew. (4)
The heart opens and closes according to it’s own comfort in any given situation. This is very similar to a camera lens, opening and closing according to the degree of light. Or a morning glory, when struck with light, it opens. When the light fades and temperature drops, it closes. In relation to the heart, the spiraling open and closing occurs with the type and intensity of emotions felt.
Sometimes one opens the door to the heart from the inside through meditation, self introspection and mindfulness establishing one’s own connection;
Sometimes, the door to the heart is opened from the outside by another, with love, joy, kindness;
And sometimes, the heart is opened with pain, either self imposed or from another.
Yet, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how the heart opened, just that it did. Lillian Ralph Jackman writes about this in her poem below.
the best lover ever
was a czechoslovakian, macrobiotic
cardiac surgeon who carried viburnum
flowers in from the garden to lay
them on my belly before pressing
them flat and fragrant with his own.
reaching above the bed for the stethoscope
that hung there, he laid the cool, flat
membrane against my neck, below the
ridge of my clavicle, along the
margins of my breast, listening to all
the chambers, portals and vessels
of my heart.
(ah, the pleasure of lying naked
before a man who undresses you
the good doctor, at the end of his
exploration, pronounced with a certainty
that resonates still: “you haf a gud heart.”
now, the wise among you already
know the end of this story.
the czechoslovakian, macrobiotic
cardiac surgeon, the best lover ever,
followed his books
back to the homeland to listen to
other hearts, bear a few children,
have a dog named bonnie.
perhaps you know I married a man
far less kind, who took that same
heart and pried it open with the
crowbar of his own great
can you tell me, does it matter to
the heart who opens it?
does it matter to the heart whether
it is cleaved with force or tenderness?
and is the light any less pleased,
any less persistent as it streams
through the fissures, finally
illuminating the interior? (5)
Maya Angelou, who recently passed on, said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said , … will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (6)
In the end, heart is the only thing that matters – your heart and how it connects to others.
I leave you with Rumi’s poem about the heart.
Beyond the concerns and pulls of this life,
beyond the tendrils which pull me in a thousand ways – there is the Heart, cal in her wholeness,
there is the light which radiates eternally within me,
In distraction and the numerous tasks within me,
I feel this vast nourishing radiance: now it is always with me – remembrance deepest tenderness.
Only time and distance make the physical connection difficult
In this stillness, we are dancing in this moment,
there is only union, heart to heart. (7)
© Brooke Becker, 2014
Photographs Courtesy: Dharmendra Singh [Contributor to The Essayist]
- Boston University Center for Polymer Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Music of the Heart,http://polymer.bu.edu/music/
- Ed and Deb Shapiro, www.Oprah.com, Listen to your Heart Not Your Head, 2010.
- John Squadra, This Ecstasy, Hermes Press, Brooks Maine, 1996
- John Squadra, This Ecstasy, Hermes Press, Brooks Maine, 1996
- Lillian Ralph Jackman, Heron Dance Book of Love and Gratitude, Heron Dance Press, 2009
- Maya Angelou,Worth Repeating: More Than 5,000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (2003) by Bob Kelly, p. 263
- Jallal al-Din Rumi, The Essential Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks, Harper Collins, 1995