Love is neither given, taken, nor caused. It is an expression of the true nature of me and all of existence.Scott Schwenk, Abundant Joy
I started Scott Schwenk’s online meditation course: Abundant Joy over on Commune almost three weeks ago and I am loving every bit of the experience, something I never thought I would ever say about meditating and heavy breathing for over an hour every day.
Each morning we meditate on one of the chakras and on day four it was the first time we turned our attention to the Anahata or heart chakra. Heart in Sanskrit means centre, which is very different from the way we perceive the heart in the West either as a physical organ or as a symbol of emotion.
In a blog about the classic textbook The Art of Computer Programming, I pondered the symbolism of the Tarot card the three of swords, ‘cos that’s how I like to roll. On the card there is a heart pierced by three swords. Normally, swords represents thoughts whereas cups represent emotions, but the three of swords is almost always interpreted as a broken heart because there’s a heart in the middle of the picture pierced painfully by three swords. We immediately feel it and interpret with our emotions even though there are no cups, just swords. Our thoughts – consciousness – or mind in Sanskrit is citta which just looking at that word makes me think of the centre of Rome which definitely has a place in my heart. We jumble up the mind and heart all the time.
In the Tantra tradition, it is said that, the heart is the centre of all sacred places and in the cave of the heart, there is a flame inside a six-pointed star.
We recently moved house and at times, I felt that I would, as the late great Aretha Franklin once sang, drown in my own tears overwhelmed as I was with excitement and sadness. I would weep as I packed and thought about leaving behind the wall in our little flat where we’ve marked how our girls have grown over the six and a half years we have lived there. Sometimes, in the same moment I would laugh with joy as I anticipated having my own office in a whole house up the stairs away from the hubbub so that I could sit and think and be.
I miss my wonderful fireplace, the one shown in the picture above. We didn’t know when we moved into our flat that it was open and honestly, the joy of discovering it has stayed with me ever since. I have loved lighting the fire so that I could lie in front of it on several furry rugs with a huge glass of red wine and stare into the flames to contemplate the infinite, as my old dad would put it. It’s a huge Georgian fireplace and it was magic. There are no open fireplaces in our new place just radiators where they used to be that a friend said I will be glad of when winter comes. She is right of course even though I ungratefully rolled my eyes.
I have also lost the heat of my beloved Bikram. I love Bikram as the many blogs about it here demonstrate. I miss it fiercely. I miss the heat, the friendship, the sweatiness, the energy in the room, and the way I feel when I do Bikram in my leopard skin hotpants, but as caregiver to vulnerable dependents, I just can’t go back until Covid-19 is no longer life-threatening.
I am comforted because knowing how to meditate on the cave of my heart, with it’s small flame the size of my thumb sitting inside a six pointed star is such a gift. It has taught me how to sit with the duality of needing to leave and wanting to stay at the same time.
Some days I feel that I am dissolving as Schwenk puts it: as salt on the ocean. The active breathwork is so powerful that I am learning to slip into the gap, which is where our unbounded consciousness – the space between our thoughts and ego – lie. And, it is in this space of great love and abundant joy, in the cave of my heart, when I let go and feel the abundant joy that’s in there, I can still experience the immense joy I felt the very first time when I came home to Bikram and also home to our cosy lovely flat, my forever home.
Over the years I have moved around a lot so this flat was the first real forever home I had had since I left home aged 18. I painted the walls, bought rugs and candles and made curtains. I poured all my love into our flat and having that home helped a lot when my mother died, the last link to the home of my home town. Her death left me feeling lost. Moving house again brought up that loss all over again.
However, thanks to Schwenk’s course, I now know there is a flame in the cave of my heart, and that is where my home really is. After all, home is where the heart is and through meditation I know that nothing and no one is ever really gone.
I typed that and as I wondered if it was true or just something Luke Skywalker said in The Last Jedi, I looked out of my office window at the top of our new home. Look what I saw:
I took it as a sign and went downstairs to kiss my family and tell them how much I love them.
In the cave of my heart is a six pointed star with a small flame inside. Outside, there is a rainbow. What more could any heart need to feel at home?
Mine can’t think of anything right now as it overflows with abundant joy.