The Heartist lifestyle and examples by Fiona Howard
The heartist lifestyle is learning to live primarily from your heart and connecting to the tan tien. Learning to emotionalise emotion. In other words to learn how to be good at what you are feeling and set it free by feeling it. Learning to physically encompass the emotion rather than mentalizing it or going back to the mind. To emotionally and physically feel how you are feeling, encompasses the emotion. This very deep level of self-acceptance develops true compassion as you learn to accept each emotion truly as it is.
In this practise there is no analysis, no mental judging; no interpretation or past reasoning; no movement of thought.
Learning to encompass the feeling – whatever it is – in the body or emotion is an art. To become clear like water, letting go of reaction of the self and altruistically feel without judgement.
To feel in this deep and direct way is the key to freshness in practise and relationships. When we lose the heartist way of being then things eg practising fundamental tai chi and zhineng chi kung become mechanical.
Sometimes this seems challenging as we don’t know how to handle the rush of emotions which come through. This is especially strong when for years you may have locked up your heart.
It is a fight to stay with the heart. Stay with the heart rather than going to the mind and connect the heart to the tan tien.
The heartist lifestyle is learning to stay with your heart at all times; to listen to your heartbeat continuously and to respond to what your heart tells you to do. Changing the value system from putting the outer first to putting the inner first. Holding your own heart as the dearest thing in your heart. And then sharing your heart when talking and listening, seeing, singing, touching, sharing, walking or whatever it is you are doing.
Examples of this in my life:
I feel this is something I am taking steps towards – that i am learning to live in this way. There are times when I find I have lost it and gone back into my head or mental body.
1 I was asked to do some teaching in plymouth by a fellow teacher. I said yes and then later realised that the people employing me were not paying very much for what would be a big morning. Then they even said they wanted me to be there earlier which would have meant a very long day with me leaving home around 7.15 am to be there in time.
I stayed with my heart. I had feelings of resentment come up feeling that I was trapped in a situation which I could not get out of where I was being exploited. I did my best to be with the feelings and let go. After some time of being with these feelings it came to me that I must be honest.
So I wrote a balanced email explaining how much I would normally charge for such an event. It was from my heart and responding to the people involved.
The result of my honest expression from my heart and gut centre was that they arranged the day to start later and all my teaching was over one after the other so I was not tied up for hours. They also gave me some extra recompense.
When I spoke to the manager on the phone and eventually met her I realised that she was a very soft and beautiful being. I did a good job of teaching for them – and put 100% into it as always. They in turn tried to meet me as much as they could within their constraints.
We had a very friendly and warm meeting and I felt she was doing her very best to sort out all the challenges of negotiating college beaurocracy. We were 2 beings meeting to do their best for each other inside a system neither of us had control over. It could easily have been unfriendly or resentful if the mind had taken over.
2 I worked hard on forgiveness to my brother who had shouted at me and said unpleasant things at my father’s funeral. I stayed with my own feelings of shocck and hurt and accepted them.
Over time I started to understand my brother a little better and started to see that part of me.
When I was truly no longer judging him and had forgiven both of us completely I wrote him a beautiful card from my heart, apologising for any hurt I had unwittingly caused. And that I had let the incident go myself and hoped to see him again soon.
I heard nothing and was a little disappointed. I found myself getting upset when I heard he had spoken to my sisters and even my cousin’s husband.
I gave it all up into the zhineng form and became transparent. When I finished my heart urged me to phone him then and there so I did.
Unusually he answered straight away. He thanked me for the card and said it was lovely to get it. We had a very nice, heart centred and warm loving chat. We had broken through the prisons of hurt and resentment and reconnected our hearts. I look forward to the next time I see him.
3 My sister was over from canada. We are very different and don’t see each other very often. I was staying also with my mother. It was difficult to talk to Laura. She was quite silent and I could feel her critical of me. Then one evening we shared a glass of wine together. She relaxed and started to talk about herself and how she felt no-one was interested in her life in canada.
So we had a lovely time sharing as I often feel that no-one is very interested in what i do either so we could share how we were both feeling in a similar way. We were being honest and vulnerable with each other.
After we had both shared from our hearts we were then able to talk about our mother and her health problems and we became much closer for the rest of the time we were there.
I found that the honest expression of how I was feeling – without the need for anything to change eg I had held my own feelings non-judgementally and accepted them so I did not need the outside to change – allowed her also to be honest and our relationship became closer as a result. The outer had changed but after I had accepted the situation and feelings inside me.
4 On the last morning of my stay with my mum. Mum had been so very negative for days. She is depressed and unhappy. She said something very hard on herself and I challenged her for being so hard on herself.
I can also be hard on myself and realise the harm which it does. Working with the self-appreciations has helped me see that part of me for what it really is.
My heart could not see my mum tearing herself apart and leading herself into more misery without saying something so I did. It came from my heart and gut centre – I could not stop it.
She listened and became transformed somehow and ended up telling me how much respect she had for the way I had been when I was ill and how I have handled it. This much to my surprise and pleasure.
I felt because I had worked on holding that part of me somehow I was no longer frightened of it and could not just stand by and let that make my mum miserable. Hard to explain really but it was really positive and did feel like a prison door opened.
5 My other sister came over to visit. She hardly said a word to me. I was with my own feelings of hurt and just held them. Later on we had a walk by the river. Initially she walked with her daughters. When there was a chance my heart led me to walk by her and asked her about her partner and listened to her recounting some of the challenges she was experiencing.
I could feel that the selves she was expressing I had also felt. I was able to listen from my heart, not reacting but with a deep, warm, loving acceptance.
In the past I may have felt resentful and unhappy that I make such an effort to see my family and then she doesn’t connect with me or seem interested. Now I just saw a reflection of me and felt my heart holding us both in peaceful love.