Heart open, love forward: living in the heart

The heart in its essence is unbounded. Embody a way of being with balance, serenity and calm by living in the heart.

The world was a very different place when I first sat down to pen this article. I was looking forward to a year of travelling, teaching and sharing around the world; all the things I would define for myself as living “heart forward”. In an instant, the world changed. Now, here we are living in a time that asks us to live into our hearts more than ever.

To live “heart open, love forward” sounds like a whimsical quote to hang on your wall. For me, this is a concept I’ve been exploring for many years and one that continues to evolve. Practically speaking, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So you might wonder, what does it actually mean to live heart forward?

The heart in its essence is unbounded. Within the chakral system it’s known as the anahata chakra, meaning “unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten” in Sanskrit, and is associated with balance, calmness and serenity. By its very nature the heart is infinite in its capacity to express love. Love, as I’ve come to understand it, is an internally referenced phenomenon. It must be experienced first in the self before it can be directed outwards. It’s here where many people are misguided in their experience of love.

Do you love yourself? Could you look in the mirror and repeat over and over, “I love you, I love you, I love you” and truly, deeply mean it? We so often look outside of ourselves for validation in love. But love is who and what you are. All great wisdom traditions teach the path of self-discovery; it’s within where we discover our power. Once we are able to step through the gate of vulnerability, we are granted access the greatest superpower we have: love. In all its unbounded, unconditional glory. Light, dark and everything between.

Living in the heart unlocks the power and potential of our personal self, merging with the universal self. Which is the true meaning of yoga: union. As my teacher, author, founder of 1 Giant Mind and Vedic meditation teacher Jonni Pollard puts it so eloquently, “We experience yoga as a sensory experience that is tangible to us when we’re able to interpret universal intelligence with our individual nervous system. We interpret it through our individuality, and express that through the heart.” Living into your heart is to live by universal intelligence — to be in a state of flow and allowing that love and innate wisdom to flow through you and into every aspect of your life.

How do you lead with love?

The root of the word courage is cor —the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” We often link courage with some big dramatic act, but to me courage is subtle. It’s your ability to allow love to lead in every aspect of your life. To share what’s on your heart freely without fear. To step into your purpose and passions as your unbounded self.

When I asked Jonni, “How do you lead with love?” He responded, “How do you wet water?” with his typical cheeky laugh. He went on to say, “Love by its nature is leading — it is the elevating force. A true leader is always moving in the direction of a more expansive and elevated state. That’s what love does — that’s its nature. If we are talking about leading with love, we are talking about embodying it.” So perhaps the real question should then be, how do we embody love and what impact does this have on our lives?

When exploring this topic I found that most wisdom traditions and fables teach a similar thing. It comes back to you and your heart. Every great hero’s journey through time is an example of someone following their heart, their truth, and, ultimately, through some dramatic twists and turns, creating a positive outcome for humanity because of it.

There’s a teaching in the Buddhist tradition that talks about having a “strong back and soft front”. Buddhism teacher Joan Halifax explains that having a strong back and soft front “is about the relationship between equanimity and compassion”. Aka, balance between the masculine and feminine aspects of yourself, the yin and yang. This concept enables us to cultivate the ability to maintain a calm mind with emotional and mental stability, simultaneously — for us to feel grounded and strong, while remaining flexible and open. Being in this balanced state of equanimous awareness we are able to show up in our lives and love fiercely with grace. We become the embodiment of love.\

This concept of balance speaks to wholeness and our desire as humans to live a whole, full life. When we prioritise living in the heart and begin making decisions from a place of deep love, empathy, courage and compassion, this desire is enhanced. Jonni takes this a step further, revealing, “This means living with a sense of responsibility for the greater good. With an understanding of the impact on the environment and the world around it — our responsibility to life and our serving of it.” It’s here where we start to see the relevance of living in the heart. Not for our own personal experience on this planet, but for the collective experience of which we are all a part of. The more self-aware, kind and compassionate we become inside of ourselves, the more kind and compassionate we become with those outside of ourselves.

Shelley Laslett, a social scientist and neuroscience coach explains it like this: “You can’t have a conscious impact on your outside world unless you have a conscious impact on your internal world. For us to raise the collective consciousness and lead with love and kindness, we need to lead with love and kindness within ourselves first.” This calls in yet another Buddhist teaching of metta — the practice of love and kindness, which is often taught through a guided meditation. Shelley continues, “This is where meditation comes in. Loving-kindness meditations connect people to the world around them through empathy and less individuality or selfish thinking.” In a space of metta we start to look for similarities rather than differences.

To live heart open, love forward is one of the greatest gifts you can give humanity. But it must first start with you and your experience of love within yourself. As Shelley says, “We must become self-aware before we become socially aware.”

I set out to write this article to encourage you to live into your heart, to live your best life, but what I’ve come to realise is that living in the heart is a radical form of activism. But it’s one that requires no protests or letters. Rather it’s the simple acts, choices and a relationship with yourself that develops through daily practice. The stronger the love within you, the stronger the love around you.


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