“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or heard, but must be felt within the heart” (Helen Keller).
These simple words by Helen Keller communicate a deep, profound truth about your life. Those of us who, unlike Helen Keller, are so consumed by what we see and hear can miss experiencing a profoundly beautiful world. The distractions of the external world, many of which are of course important, can distract us from a rich inner life that has amazing things to show us and for us to experience.
Chronic illness is especially distracting from the inner life of the heart and soul. In many cases such as mine, there are physical functions that must be regularly monitored and treated. This can keep you focused on the physical, and you can completely miss what the true essence of you is experiencing and telling you.
Those of us in the holistic health movement are constantly reminding our clients to pay attention to the signals that their body and emotions are giving them. This is important. But also take time to get to know your inner self better. This is the part of you that is not at the dictates of whatever your physical body is doing. Your heart and soul are the essence of what you are on a non-physical level. You might think of this aspect of yourself as your spiritual self. Your spiritual self does not function based on your physical self; but your physical self is affected by your spiritual self.
Your heart and soul can be found when you are not paying attention to your body, your emotions, the latest news, politics, religion, gossip, or any of the things to which we are typically paying attention. Nearly everyone has experienced being alone in nature, when you find yourself captivated by spectacular beauty and a sense that all is well with the world. These profound inner experiences can come during meditation, when we are not trying too hard to relax, or not trying to achieve any particular insight. It is when we let go of control, and allow our heart and soul to speak. It can happen anywhere, and at any time; and in some unlikely places. We just temporarily lose our focus on the external or physical world, and our emotions just haven’t kicked in to tell us what we should be feeling. That is when we can function at a soul level.
Another way in which people have had a heart and soul experience is when they are able to go back to a time in their childhood, often through a hypnotic type of process, when they were still innocently functioning as they were created to be. I had this experience when I first entered psychotherapy as part of my doctoral training. At that point, in my mid-twenties, I was fairly jaded. I had experienced some very traumatic things in my life, I had developed my intellect to the sacrifice of my inner self, I was entitled, and had a group of wealthy friends who entertained me in glamorous settings. I was defensive to say the least. In a hypnosis session, my therapist had me go back to my early childhood, before the trauma began, and describe how the little boy expereinced the world. I got a glimpse of a much different person than the one who was currently functioning as an arrogant twenty-something. I really liked the little soul I met in that hypnosis session! It was frightening, but I gradually began to allow more and more of that kind, compassionate, vulnerable person show. I still have to remind myself to go there!
Try experiencing your heart and soul . . . your spiritual self; the true essence of you. It has much to teach you, after you let go of control for a while. You and the world that it will reveal to you are indeed beautiful.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D., July 27, 2016