How to Follow Your Heart

“Follow your heart,” is often what I tell clients (or anyone really) when I don’t know what else to say. We’ve already been through the frustrated, tearful pleas for help. “What should I do? Please just tell me!” We’ve exhausted as many possibilities as we can come up with and what’s left of any patience. So the only option is “follow your heart.” “But how do I do that?” they ask.

Hmmm… good question. And one I didn’t really know the answer to for awhile. Is the heart the same as intuition or God or the soul? Or are they all something completely different? Next thing you knew I was as confused and frustrated as they were.

Then, I suppose I followed my heart. And realized that I didn’t need to know exactly what it was or how to do it. It doesn’t come with a set of instructions. It simply comes with a feeling. That quiet knowing of exactly what to do next.

Unfortunately many of us are not always present to feel it. We’re moving too fast. The world’s moving too fast. It’s loud. We constantly have music going. We never sit still. We’re always on our screens. We’re stuck in traffic.

And so we often confuse our heart’s guidance with our impulsive urges. Those anxious feelings we’re so eager to abracadabra, make disappear. So we have that extra slice of lemon maringue pie. Or send that snarky text. But when we act on them we never feel fulfilled or satisfied.

So how do we know it’s our heart then? Because we feel calm, centered, grounded. We know without a doubt it’s what we should do even if we have no idea why. Which is often the case so we don’t act on it. We don’t take that class. Or drive that other route. Or dance like crazy for 5 minutes. We find a million excuses not to do the things our heart tells us and then become frustrated when we can’t hear it anymore. Well, if you’re talking to someone and they never listen you’re going to stop talking too.

So how do we get quiet enough to hear and confident enough to trust.

  • Meditation/Prayer: Whether you consider yourself religious or spiritual or none of the above there is something to be said for sitting in silence and expressing your hopes and wishes from a quiet mind. After thousands of years of these practices, science is starting to support this.

  • Get into nature: As I've said before nature literally heals the brain and it brings us closer to ourselves and as cheesy as it sounds, all that is the universe. It's extremely difficult to be in nature for an extended period of time and not feel the quiet and slower pace of life.

  • Go slowly: But you can go slowly in everyday life. In everything you do. Simply walk slower. Eat slower. Pause before you speak. Let a car in front of you while sitting in traffic. Savor your life. 
  • Breathe: This should be a duh. But most of us aren't really breathing. Not efficiently anyway. We need deep, life affirming breaths to support ourselves. Paying attention to our breath, both through a meditative practice and daily life, will bring you closer. 

Then when we hear that voice and feel calm and centered, act on it no matter how crazy it seems. It will always turn out well because your heart is never going to try to hurt you or get you in trouble. It is not going to advise that you go against your morals. And the more you do it the more it will speak to you. And if it doesn’t speak to you right away continue to remain quiet. It always will.