“Be restful in your heart” is one of the daily sayings from Swami Kriyananda writing in his small book called “Do It Now”
Upon reflection, during this past week’s seclusion, it seemed that as I have been less caught up in daily “to do’s” and requests, I noticed that as the week has progressed, the mind has relaxed since it had little to do externally all week (walks, and chores notwithstanding) and also my heart seemed to relax.
Seven years ago, while shoveling snow on February morning outside our home here at Ananda Village, I experienced a mild heart attack. I had only lived at Ananda Village for 18 months or so, having left a career which involved a tremendous amount of stress. This lead to the inevitable trip to ICU, etc., yet I was home shortly thereafter, more deeply committed to recuperation and changing some lifestyle habits. Thirty pounds later and as I learned more about these teachings, I discovered that the heart chakra resides behind the physical heart but there is also a tie in. As I relaxed and rested my heart chakra, my physical heart seemed more rested. This is not to suggest substituting meditation for exercise because moderate exercise each day can help keep most of us, not only in better physical shape but it helps our meditations because the body wants to then relax and we usually find ourselves more calm during meditation.
Yogananda urges us to practice energization exercises daily prior to meditation. This subtle tension and relaxation techniques often helps calm the body, energize the nervous system in a calming way and thereby I find my body and heart more relaxed yet awake. Ananda Yoga is also about preparing the body for meditation but that is another story told by authors much more understanding so I will not dwell on this.
When we relax or rest our heart, we also open up to new energies within. I often almost naturally feel more loving towards others for instance. More willing to listen within to the sounds of the Divine.
Yogananda, in one of his prayers says: “Father, teach me to be calmly active and actively calm…”
All this is fairly easy to accomplish as we progress in seclusion with concentrated effort to relax our hearts. It almost sounds almost contradictory to make an effort to relax but it is also good practice for daily lives. Recently at work, I was running late to an appointment and didn’t feel very relaxed. As I was rushing out the door, a co-worker wanted to ask me to do something for him and it couldn’t wait until later to discuss it. I was not very relaxed at this point feeling a lot of tension in my body as I didn’t want to deal with this issue right then. Upon reflection later, I saw that, while the issue was important then tension was not.
So for this next year, as we progress into celebrating Ananda Village’s 40th anniversary, my goal is to remember this prayer: “Father, teach me to be calmly active and actively calm” and be more restful in my heart.