Abiding in the Heartby Bill Rishel
For abiding in the heart, I do not recommend concentrating on the physical heart, nor on any sense of heart "chakra" either.
I can tell you what has worked for me. Perhaps it will be effective for you.
My approach to the heart is to pay attention to my feelings. By feelings I mean something different than emotions, though emotions are related.
Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant and gotten a weird creepy feeling about the place? Many people tend to ignore such feelings but one can develop a sensitivity to one's feelings and learn to honor them. This is also called "listening to one's gut".
So the first step is paying attention to and becoming very sensitive to one's feelings.
The second step is to learn to pay attention to and become very sensitive to the feelings *within oneself*. These are feelings that arise more from within than in response to the environment. They can be feelings of apprehension, an ache in the heart, longing, etc. These feelings can be generally categorized as "deep feelings". In my case such feelings would typically be located in the chest area. What I am emphasizing here are feelings that have the quality of a *physical sensation*. There will typically be an emotional content aspect, such as "apprehension", but also a physical sensation, which will typically be in the chest area.
When these "inner feelings" arise, my practice has been to become very aware of the feelings. This means number one getting away from distracting external stimuli so one can devote one's attention to the feelings that are coming up. Secondly, this means "zooming in" on the feelings. Go into it more and more until what was once a tiny bleep on the radar now virtually fills the awareness. Pay especial attention to the physical or kinesthetic sensations connected with the feelings. Looking at the emotions takes us off into the psychological content. That isn't what we want. The emotional aspect is important for identifying something we need to go into, but from that point it is the "sensations" of the feelings that are important. Sometimes these sensations might be like a subtle pin prick, or a kind of dullness, or an ache. As we "zoom in" on these feelings the sensations start getting richer and more complex. As we continue to "go in" the feelings start to change as a result of more awareness, richer perspective, and insight.
Through much deep practice with "inner feelings" there develops a sense of the "feeling center" where the inner feelings worked on tend to arise. At this stage one can begin to go into feelings that have not gotten blown up into an emotional charge. We are now starting to develop a sense of the heart as a location for the emergence of feeling. With continued attention and practice we can go into the feeling center itself, just as we went into individual feelings at a former stage. And at this stage we are also learning the basics of "abiding in the heart".
"Abiding in the heart" itself is just a maturation of the exploration of the feeling center, such that we can now "stay in the feeling center" while engaged in our daily activities.
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