In most Buddhist languages, the word for “mind” and “heart” is the same word: Citta. When meditation moved to the West, we quickly associated it with the mind, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—meditation is a tool to train the mind. But we left the heart out of the practice, and the heart is at the center of a meditation practice, at the center of mindfulness and awareness. True meditation takes us to a place where we can be mindful of what’s occurring in our hearts.
As we wrap up the year, many of us are thinking about what changes we can make and dreams we can bring to life in the New Year. Before you set your intentions, resolutions, goals, adjustments—whatever you call that grand New Year’s plan of yours—make sure you’re tapping into not only your mind’s energy, but also your heart’s. Our heart gives us a lot of valuable information … if we’re able to settle our mind enough to tap into our heart, to listen. This can be difficult in our culture where we tend to overthink and overplan. Settling our mind can be especially difficult during this crazy time of year.
So before you sit down to put a pen to paper with a New Year’s plan, take a brief, quiet moment to settle your mind, be silent, and align your mind with your heart. Follow this meditation to bring your mind and heart closer into alignment.
Buddhists actually consider the heart to be located inside of the mind. Let’s use that visual for our meditation:
- Sit up tall and close your eyes. Allow your body to be comfortable yet alert.
- Take a couple of cleansing breaths: inhaling slowly through your nose, exhaling through your mouth.
- Now begin your deep, slow breathing—in and out through your nose—maintaining a watchful eye on your breath.
- Picture this: Your heart is sitting at the center of your mind. It could be an anatomical heart, or the shape of a heart—it doesn’t matter. Visualize this heart-mind resting as one unit at the center of your being.
- As you inhale, imagine your heart-mind expanding and glowing brighter, as if light is pouring in to fill the heart-mind with each inhale.
- As you exhale, imagine your heart-mind dimming and settling.
- With each inhale, watch it expand and glow.
- With each exhale, notice how it settles, relaxes, and dims.
- Stay with this visual for a few minutes—or as long as you’d like—and enjoy the relaxed and clear energy that follows.
“Sometimes the heart knows things the mind could never explain.” ~Ranjeet Singh