What's your heart telling you?

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When I teach a live class with Jill, I love hearing her talk about how important it is for us turn our head and our heart towards each other to make the most nourishing choices for ourselves. If we’re in person or on video, she takes one arm up by her head and one by her heart, hands facing away from each other, and then slowly turns her hands towards each other and brings them closer. 

As women, most of us get into our heads pretty easily throughout the day. We turn to thinking when making decisions, whether they are about what to wear, what to eat or how to navigate our relationships. It’s a very masculine energy. Certainly bringing logic into situations is valuable. We've been led to believe though that thinking is superior to feeling and that turning to our heart to help guide us is an unreliable approach to living.

For those of us who are very tuned into our feelings, we’ve often felt or been labeled as overly sensitive, too emotional, unstable, illogical and flaky among other things. Unfortunately, many women, myself included, may have taken those on as truth and struggled with listening to our hearts as well as our heads.

What is so fascinating to me is that the more I’ve cultivated ‘turning my head and heart towards each other’ over the years, allowing my heart to have a say in making decisions and in guiding me, beautiful things tend to happen.

Like a few months ago there was a girls’ night planned. My daughter Natalie (18), my two sisters-in-law, my three nieces (18, 17, 17) and I wanted to get together before the holiday break ended and we all jumped back into our busy routines. We talked about going out to a movie but ended up deciding to get comfy in our pjs and stay in. In our texting group we tossed around what funny movie to watch and what carry-out to pick up and eat. Over those few days of planning I noticed that I kept feeling like we needed to do something that was more heart-centered.

While my head was telling me to “Just stick with the plan, Angelle. Go over in your PJs, watch a funny movie, hang out, it’s all good.”, my heart was telling me something very different. She was saying, “No, no, no. This is not the time to watch a funny movie. This is the time to connect on a deeper level.” As much as I tried to turn away from my heart, she kept talking to me. My heart wanted each of us share something from the previous year to celebrate about ourselves, reflect on what we did to achieve or cultivate that in our lives and then talk about who we'd become as a woman as a result. 

I heard her, but I kept trying to ignore my heart's voice. I told her that no one would want to do that; everyone would think it was silly; they’d all think, oh there goes Angelle with her ‘crazy’ ideas, blah, blah, blah. The voice in my head wanted me to choose the logical and more acceptable path while the voice in my heart was clearly telling me to choose a path with the potential to strengthen our connections and open us up to being more vulnerable with each other.

I decided to turn my head and my heart towards each other and I texted everyone what I wanted us to do together before we watched the movie. I asked each person to think about what they want to share and celebrate about themselves.

That evening, I felt really vulnerable about this. I hadn’t heard back from anyone about my text so I didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone else bring it up? Had they thought about it at all? Was everyone hoping I’d forgotten about it?

As we sat, talking with each other, my heart’s voice was getting louder and louder, “Now’s the time, tell them we’re going to get started.”  I eventually decided to listen to my heart and I explained why I wanted to have this experience together. Thankfully one of my sisters-in-law volunteered to go first. She actually had thought about it ahead of time and went on to share a celebration that was very authentic and beautiful. As she was sharing, I felt a palpable shift in everyone’s energy. I asked her about what she had done to be able to celebrate this and who she’d become as a woman along the way. To my relief and joy she played right along. And then my beautiful nieces and daughter and other sister-in-law did the same and so did I. It felt amazing.

Throughout the celebrating, we engaged in vulnerable conversations. The moms were able to hear our daughters and nieces in ways maybe we hadn’t before. We were also able to share from our experience and wisdom and these four young women listened, not just with their ears and their minds but with their hearts. The cousins learned more about each other's internal life over the previous year that allowed them to show up with more compassion for one another. There was an opening and a syncing up of our heart energy. Since that evening, I’ve seen and felt a deeper connection between individuals and as a group. There have been beautiful shifts between us.

We need both our heads and our hearts. Leading completely with one and without the other, will make life more challenging, less joyful and lead to more separation. Leading with both – and I’d say first with the heart – creates more ease and joy and connection in ourselves, our relationships and in our lives.

What’s also fascinating to me about this is that there is now science to support how powerful our heart energy is. The 40,000+ sensory neurons relay information from the heart to the brain, and as a result the heart is sometimes referred to as the ‘Little Brain’ because it sends more information TO the brain on a daily basis than vice versa. The heart actually emits more electrical activity than the brain and listen to this amazing fact: activity in one person's heart can be measured in the brain waves of another person! {1}

Listening to what your heart has to say may be something you are really good at and bravo to you for honoring her voice. Often though, it takes practice and faith. It’s really easy to be talked out of tuning into our heart’s wisdom, both by ourselves and others.

Here’s a powerful exercise that can help strengthen the connection you have with your heart energy:

The next time you have to make a decision and you feel like our head and your heart are in conflict or that you are only using your head to guide you, get quiet. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Picture yourself standing at the fork of a road. To the left is the ‘head-led’ path – the completely logical choice for your decision. Imagine physically walking down that path, making that choice. Imagine what will likely happen if you head down that path. Now, tune into your body, especially your heart, and see how you feel. Your body doesn’t lie. Are you tense or relaxed? Are you feeling heavy and sad or light and joyful? Do you have a lump in your throat? What does your heart tell you about this choice?

After a minute or so, physically do a little shake of our body, and then imagine yourself back at the fork in the road and now you are going to walk down the more heart-centered path, asking yourself those same questions again, feeling into your body and your heart energy. Really look at the possible consequences of this choice too.

Whichever path felt lighter, brighter and relaxed in your body was likely the path that would be best for you. 

When I use this exercise myself and my clients use it, not only do the best choices become more clear, but our connection to our heart and what she wants us to know becomes strengthened. While this exercise takes intention and a few minutes initially, the more you say yes to your heart, the more natural it becomes to turn head and heart toward each other throughout your day.

I’d love to hear if and how you listen to what your heart wants for you. If you’re heart has something she wants you to share, please let her! You can email hello@nourishtoflourishsociety.com or share in the comments of this post on Facebook.  

And, because February was officially heart health month and we're quite sure you were inundated with lots of conventional tips and strategies, many of which aren't even accurate, we're giving you a link to an article from one of our favorite health + wellness resources, Experience Life Magazine. In the article called Rethinking Heart Health, they bust the top myths about heart health (like the Cholesterol is bad myth), offer 8 ways to prevent heart disease AND give you the exact tests you want to ask your doctor to run for you. Click HERE and bookmark this article because you'll want to refer to it and share it!