The Power of Heart over Mind
Most methods in the modern day of self help and philosophy focus on intellectual processes of managing our thoughts and minds. Now, I wish to let you in on another secret. Many of these, mind control methods are weak in comparison to the Heart Purification method. This method was widely used by the Sufi Muslims and Christian Mystics. The Sufi Muslims in particular view the heart as the house of God. They view the heart as our central divine point of entry to God/Universal Mind. Note the quote from the Islamic Hadith below-
“Neither My Earth nor My Heavens could contain Me, whilst the heart of My believing servant does contain Me…” – Hadith
Despite us viewing the heart as simply an organ in the body, it is much more than this. The heart is our emotional centre, it is the centre of all cognition. If we are emotionally imbalanced, then we become mentally imbalanced. Most people seem to have this statement the wrong way around, they seem to assume our thoughts govern our emotional states. But I wish to present to you a daring concept today, that it actually could be the opposite issue we face. The emotional state of our heart may actually govern our thoughts and not vice versa.
How Did I Draw this Conclusion?
I drew this conclusion from my own personal experience. I tried all of the positive thinking and affirmation methods that are so abundant nowadays in the new age. But, I found that I often failed badly at these attempts to directly control my mind. I just assumed that I wasn’t disciplined enough to make them work. I began to beat myself up about my own lack of success. Little did I know, that these so called positive thinking methods are actually rarely effective and very few people, can make them work successfully in the long term.
It was only once I studied Islamic and Christian mysticism, that I began to learn about this new method that would begin to bring about instant changes into my life, that the positive thinking methods failed me on.
‘Verily, in the body is a piece of flesh which, if sound, the entire body is sound, and if corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Truly, it is the Heart.‘ – Hadith – link
In Islamic texts, they make it profoundly clear time and time again. That a pure and healthy heart is a fundamental part of us keeping a sound mind and body. This quote highlights the link between the heart, mind and the rest of the body. There is a deliberate emphasis here on the concept, that our body is a reflection of our state of the heart. A corrupted heart is a corrupted body and a pure heart is a pure body.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.‘ – Matthew 5:8
Heres a quote from the bible to add to this. This quote teaches us that we discover our divinity via having a pure heart. Not a positive thinking brain, but a pure heart. It is clearly shown here, that if we purify the heart, we will see god and find self realisation. In the modern day, there is an endless obsession with making intellectual changes, this isn’t backed up though by many of the ancients texts on the matter. Most of the ancient belief systems seemed to place great emphasis on the purification of the emotional centre.
How Do I Know what State my Heart is in?
Well, as obvious as this may sound. What sorts of moods do you frequently find yourself experiencing at the moment? If you are feeling bitter, depressed, angry, resentful or anxious constantly. Then the chances are that you need a boost. We create this boost by tapping into the emotional centre which is the heart. If we are in states of darkness, this is a reflection of how our heart is presenting itself currently. Obviously there are numerous reasons, why this can happen. – prolonged stress, grief, financial difficulties, to name just a few.
Our first task, is to understand and analyse how we are feeling, this is the best place for us to start from. If we wish to experience better mental states once again, we must work on our feelings. Many people wrongly try to focus on their thoughts, when they are feeling anxious or depressed. This is generally highly ineffective. When your mind is being inundated with negative thought streams, it is extremely difficult to switch them to positive ones or to take control back, at the drop of a hat. If anything, trying to stop negative thoughts, can end up making you feel like you are swimming against a tide, that just keeps on coming at you. The more you resist the negative thoughts, the more they seem to persist. The more you try to fight the negative thoughts, the stronger and more overpowering they seem to become.
Change The Feeling Instead
This is why when we are finding ourselves in these dark emotional states, we must step away from our thoughts and move our focus back to our emotional centre, the heart. We do this by simply becoming aware of the fact that our thoughts are negative. We make a simple internal decision that, we would like to change how we are feeling right now at this very moment.
Once we have started to still the mind, we can then work on the heart. Now this can be done in numerous ways. This could be done via listening to a favourite piece of music, watching your favourite tv series/film etc. Good music and good visual entertainment can stir an emotional response in the body and again lift the heart back to a more fulfilled level. Hobbies are also relevant here, playing sport, exercising or walking in nature. Again, all of these things can give you a much needed emotional lift in the heart. They will lead to improved thinking and a more balanced mind. Obviously, this article would miss the mark though. If I didn’t suggest some more direct spiritual approaches towards attaining purity of the heart.
The Sufi Way of Heart Purification
‘For surely it is not the eyes that are blind but the hearts.’ – Quran 22:46
To make this as simple as possible to understand, we must focus on cultivating a feeling of gratitude, if we wish to purify the heart. This is the primary method employed by the Sufis. They pray directly to God and seek to reconnect emotionally with the Spirit that pervades the universe. The Sufis show gratitude to God. They see this as a primary method of keeping the heart clean and directly reflecting and filled with the Spiritual light. This method is not just unique to the Sufis I must add, this was practiced by numerous other ancient spiritual movements throughout the ages.
‘A Pure Heart open to the light, will be filled with the very essence of Truth.‘ – Rumi
The Sufis correlate negative, destructive actions and emotions with a blackening of the heart and being cut off from the Spirit/light itself. They explain it, that the more the heart becomes blackened with sludge and grime, the more frequently depressive angry mood states will persist. Forcing us into a state of persistent darkness. As the quote from Sufi poet Rumi above suggests, they actually view the heart as a reflector of Spirit and Truth. If the heart is covered with grime it cannot reflect the divine light.
The Sufis believe that via polishing their hearts. They will experience the full reflection of the divine light and truth again. They also believe that, you will experience the essence of love again once this is achieved. Which describes the feeling of peace, wholeness, clarity and purity, that ensues from employing these heart purification methods. After trying many of the methods for myself. I can vouch for the fact that they are highly effective in their intended purpose.
More Direct Methods – Expressing Gratitude
Prayers and Mantras are both, highly effective for purifying the heart. The crucial factor that must be considered with your prayer or mantra though, is that you express sincere gratitude via the prayer or mantra you employ. My personal favourite is the ‘Thank you’ method, which is a simple repetition of the word thank you, which I will use for a number of minutes to get the desired effect. Expressing sincere gratitude in this form, is a surefire way to rebuild your emotional centre again and get you back into a state of alignment.
Meditation and Mindfulness are also very effective for achieving this. If you are going to meditate though ensure you focus on something positive while doing so. It could be a person, a pet or posession you love. Just really focus mentally on the feeling of gratitude that starts to build within the heart. Meditations could even be carried out while focussing on an inspiring quote or simply focussing on God himself.
To conclude, there are many heart purification methods we can apply here to achieve this effect. The crucial aspect we must keep in our minds though when we are practicing any method of purifying the heart, is that we must focus on building a strong urge and sense of emotion inside of ourselves. This is the crucial determining factor of whether this method is a long term success or a long term failure.
The key here is for us to create a firm link between heart and mind, a union of sorts, we achieve this via matching any prayers or mantras we speak with deeply felt emotion. In meditation or mindfulness, we achieve this by mentally focussing/imagining something that uplifts us emotionally. In everyday life, we can achieve this by living in the present moment and not allowing our minds to become obsessed with thoughts of the past or future. All will work extremely well, its up to you to decide which works best for you. Once you get the hang of this method, you may be astonished at how life changing you discover it to be.