Our blogs exploring the quality of “heart”

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Expressing our passion

‘Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.’ –  Martha Graham

Passion has the power to transform.  Elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary. Lifting us out of the mundane and making compelling dancers of us all, irrespective of our skill with the steps.

As humans our task is surely to connect with our passion for, and in, life and polish our own unique way of expressing it, not just in what we do but also how so that we can make our fullest contribution to creating a better world.

For some passion will show up as a full-on ‘roar’ of the Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King variety, inspiring millions, or the extraordinary discoveries of medical science – Fleming and Penicillin being but one of myriad examples – saving millions.  For others passion manifests in quiet dedication – Mother Teresa showed us this way.

These may seem like lofty icons with their contributions to the greater good beyond our capability and yet we share the same ‘components’, have access to the same qualities.

For heart sits at the heart of all of this.  It is through our heart that we experience the passion of others and feel our joy, inspiration and elevation bubbling up.  And it is through our heart that our positive passion – the energy that transforms – is directed.

When we truly connect with our passion and express with the integrity of our heart we can move what can seem mountains to us.  That might be transforming a tricky relationship, or resolving a conflict that enables those involved to work together in harmony.  Of course, it may be something on a much bigger scale, on a community, society or global scale.

Every positive contribution to the field of humanity, life and our planet matters, no matter how small.  Whatever that contribution is if we bring our heart to it, it will be making a contribution to the greater good of our world.

Trudy Worth 

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The power of joy in leadership

Over the Christmas period I had the sheer delight of watching the new Mary Poppins film. As a fan of the original I was unsure whether this would be a good move but, for me at least, it was quite simply an hour and a half of pure joy. So much so, I was literally weeping.

I have been mulling on this feeling of joy ever since for several reasons. Firstly, just how powerful it feels to experience a sustained period of unexpected joy. It is empowering and uplifting – words such as delight, love, magical and beauty all come to mind. These are big, some might say, ‘fluffy’ words. And yet every one of them makes me smile as does recalling that deep sense of joy. Connecting with that in myself is infectious, informing my own connection with others – in my case not in an overt, bubbly sort of way but in a lighter, more open-hearted way.

Secondly reflecting that joyfulness is not commonly associated with leadership and noticing this as a shortcoming. In the workplace we typically don’t expect to feel the sensations associated with joy, do we? But what if we were to change that?

What if, like Disney, we set out to bring joy into the lives of others?  He is quoted as having said In my work I try to reach and speak to that innocence, showing it the fun and joy of living; showing it that laughter is healthy; showing it that the human species, although happily ridiculous at times, is still reaching for the stars.

We can lead the way for humanity to connect with the joy of living if we too allow ourselves to connect with that joy in our own heart. Seeing beauty wherever possible, reaching toward love for all and opening ourselves to reach for the stars.

Lorraine Flower

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Heartfully transforming our action and interaction

‘It is the heart always that sees, before the head can see.’  Thomas Carlyle

Back in the 3rd Century BC when Aristotle talked about the ‘organ of intellect’ he wasn’t talking about the brain but the heart.  His teacher, Plato, disagreed with this cardio-centric model and, over time, medical science concurred with Plato’s brain-centred model determining what we, as humans, do and how we act.

And yet isn’t the heart still vital in what we do and how?  We live our higher connection, our soul’s purpose, through our heart.  Bringing into action its loving energy in the highest, compassionate, rather than romantic, sense infuses warmth, kindness and humanness into the cool reasoning of our brains.

It is through our hearts that we recognise and value our fellow souls…where we truly open to a sense of one-ness.

Acting heartfully, with love, transforms our relationship with others, with the world and in even the smallest, seemingly inconsequential interactions.  It allows us to see beyond the obvious and discern the invisible, helping us find the path to right action in service of a greater good.

Trudy Worth

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The power of empathy

I’m sure like me you’ve noticed the increased number of heart-rending stories that fill our internet and news channels these days. Whether on a global scale in the myriad war torn areas where civilians are living in unimaginable conditions, to the seemingly relentless stream of children being murdered in the UK and elsewhere. Or the number of people living on the streets and those caring for family members with disabling or life threatening conditions. The examples of human suffering are endless.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are being triggered into opening our hearts – the very epitome of ‘heart-rending’. We are being asked to find within us empathy and compassion for others not by becoming overwhelmed or stuck in a fog of stasis and pain but by examining every single moment of our own lives and choosing to act from a space of love and kindness.

Speaking personally I can’t say I find this an easy task. I know I’m a loving and caring person – I can see and feel that part of me clearly when I look. I know am able to sense others challenges, emotions and feelings to some degree. I also know that there are layers of ‘hurts’, habits and ‘stories’ that sit within my subconscious or perhaps my unconscious that can block the flow of empathy and compassion. It doesn’t really matter why they are there. What matters is whether I (and we) can move beyond the history/’herstory’ and bit by bit create a better version of myself in every moment.

And it’s not about holding back on the bigger actions to help others in need – these must of course continue as we seek to find a better balance between peoples across the world and their ‘lot in life’.  But those bigger actions will happen more naturally, in greater number and with longer lasting impact, if we live each and every day from a place of empathy and compassion.

Taking a moment of peaceful reflection each day to connect with and ‘activate’ our heart qualities and allowing ourselves to fully experience the empathy, knowing that we are strong enough to hold the impact of it and loving enough to act from that place in our relationships and interactions both with ourselves and others. Each small act or step that we take toward empathy and compassion opens the collective heart of Humanity and bit by bit we create a loving ‘field’ within which great things can and will happen.

Lorraine Flower

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Holding the line – heartfully

How do we hold the line between compassion and the desire to fix others’ suffering and the discernment and ‘tough love’ needed to encourage or prompt others to help themselves?

This is a daily challenge and balancing act wherever we look…in our own lives and individual relationships and more broadly with issues like welfare in the UK, foreign aid, disaster relief, immigration and the like.

Living through the heart, expressing heart qualities can take us just to the compassionate space – to tolerance, kindness, benevolence.  And it’s easy to see heartfulness as simply a sympathetic way of being.  If not fixing someone’s problem at least acknowledging care-fully they’re having a tough time.

Yet if we elevate into true heartfulness we’re integrating the tenderness of the heart with something else…those other qualities around courage and discernment which allow us to serve a greater good – tempering a natural reaction to rush in and solve the problem for something more valuable.

Our aid can be given in many forms.  It is most valuable where it is in a form that can help another progress and take control for themselves; where it transforms a situation in a way that sustains and can be built upon.  And that can mean we have to get tough…to respond from the heart and love in a way that may feel less loving.  Here we must draw on the courage of the heart to support us in what needs to be done.

In my own experience I know that rescuing often doesn’t rescue and can make the situation more acute when a tougher response and a line more firmly held would have elevated the ‘rescuee’ to a better place through their efforts.

Perhaps the most powerful reflection for me in writing this though is the necessity of engaging my heart in reviewing my motives while holding the questions: ‘who is rescuing whom?’  And, ‘how does it serve a greater good?’  By doing so I’ll be acting heartfully for myself and those I intend to aid.

Trudy Worth 

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Radiating Life 

I read a poem this morning by Nic Askew about a person filled with an inner light or radiance that shone out warmth on even the coldest of days. The poem reminded me of a number of people in my life who shine with such a light and who literally radiate from the heart.

That potential I believe sits within all of us and without doubt I’m sure we have each contacted it whether intentionally, or as a result of some external stimulus that touched deep inside and released it from within us. Imagine a world where every single person was radiating that heartful light every moment of every day.

We can choose that. We can choose that for ourselves and for our own way of living if we decide to go inwards and locate the light and love within our hearts and let it shine out. The love which when expressed as kindness, joy, compassion and courage brings a quality of light like no other.

At its most simple, that light and life is expressed in a smile. So as I head out into my day I am reminding myself to be consciously in contact with my own light and share it through a smile.

Lorraine Flower

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In celebration of the heart

The heart is many things and has many qualities.  It is, I’m sure you’d agree, vital in every respect.  What I’ve particularly been reflecting on over recent days though is its extraordinary tempering quality, allowing us to be tough and kind, clear and compassionate at the same time.

The heart is truly our centre of balance with the here and now and our higher self, higher connection.  Its rhythm is the rhythm of above and below, of inner and outer.

I have been reminded of this recently in my coaching work.  Coaching others is an extraordinary privilege and, for me, our heart is the most vital component in this relationship.

Only by staying heart-centred and accessing its compassion, courage and connection with intuition can we be the coach we need to be in service of our fellow human beings…

  • Holding the space that allows powerful and disabling emotions – anger, resistance, denial – to surface and dissipate safely
  • Gently but firmly keeping the exploration of what could be different and how, on track
  • Monitoring and maintaining our intuitive connection so we are truly in service of the other

Building heart to heart connection may sound soft but in reality it’s deep and powerful work that shows us the truth of who we are.

Trudy Worth

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The subtlety of the heart

˜The highest form of communication will be the grasping of thought without sound.” Agni Yoga – Heart 107

The heart is the most powerful communicator of all. This can be easily seen by expressions of kindness, understanding of others, ability to truly connect with another by ‘speaking’ their language. So often we get caught up with the more idealistic or ‘romantic’ notions associated with the heart – thinking that the heart is only functioning if it is ladling out softness and caring. Not to say that these aren’t great qualities too – they are.

The challenge for us though lies in our ability to be deeply dedicated to goodness from which we can then radiate through the heart. Being dedicated to goodness means a deep commitment to the greater good for all, be that in the micro of our immediate relationships or in the macro of the global village we inhabit. Transcending to this more fundamental level of heart expression brings a grace and beauty, a level of warmth and connection that is extremely subtle yet discernible and powerful.

That deep connection to goodness informs all aspects of our lives (health, well-being, attitude and demeanour) as well as our impulses or responses – the extent to which we are prepared to see beyond what another presents to us and not ‘judge’ too harshly, the discernment we bring when choosing the level of support or challenge we apply to a situation or the courage we deploy when confronting inequality of any nature.

As I examine my own journey with the heart l can clearly see how that soundless communication shows up for better or worse in my own sense of self, my response to the world, my work, with my family and with my friends. At its best, I notice its subtlety, almost like a gossamer web that expands its reach – full of warmth, grace and understanding. In each moment of awareness there’s a sense of a more expanded and willing acceptance of life’s situations, my own shortcomings and those of others. And that’s coupled always with the courage to continue the work of heart expansion that enables more of those moments to become joined up.

Lorraine Flower

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After some less than impressive encounters, my most recent experience of a particular public service has proved transformative.  Past encounters had felt impersonal and perfunctory, more processing of a problem than dealing with a human being. I was expecting more of the same this time.

What I experienced instead was warm and personal…people collaborating, paying attention at a human level and connected to and with me. It has allowed me to start letting go a long-held, and somewhat calcified, negative viewpoint. I find a healthy appreciation growing in its place.

And it has got me thinking about how I engage with and bring more appreciation into my life and leadership. For me it’s about heart and living more through the heart. According to the dictionary appreciation is defined as recognition of the good qualities of someone or something. The synonyms offered include valuing, respect, cherishing, treasuring, admiration, regard, esteem – heart-felt qualities.

I know when I engage with people, situations and ideas through my heart the experience is both deeper and more expansive than is possible through an intellectual filter alone, shifting from a view informed by ‘fact’ and experience to a felt sense and appreciation of other contexts, experiences, views of the world and different possibilities.

At a personal level engaging through the heart, nurturing this ability to shift, to let go old constructs, develop a different appreciation and keep renewing, feels increasingly important. It is a contribution I and all leaders can make to our world where the impacts of fixed views, relying on old ways and experience and a lack of heart-fullness are all too obvious.

Trudy Worth