Telling All One's Heart
Sometimes I think an act of courage is crossing the threshold from one space to another. It can seem so much easier to remain where you are. Especially right now, the season of growing darkness and cold, it can seem almost impossible to move. First thing in the morning, you can be stuck in the bed, dreading the sharp transition to cool open spaces. When you step into the kitchen, you have to move from sleepy ease to activity, from stillness to movement, from dreaming to decisions.
And sometimes I think that it can be a great and important act of courage just to stay where you are, say in a conversation that is getting heated or one that is getting silent. Sometimes it is all you can do to stay in the room. Courage has it’s roots in the word for heart. From Brené Brown:
“The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.”
“Telling all one’s heart” can seem terribly scary, and like a very tall order. Yet, there is a kind of relief that is only possible when you drop from your head into your heart and let body and mind speak together from there. And you can often see the relief on the face of someone you may be speaking to. They can, in fact, tell when you are “telling” all of your heart and when you are holding back.
Telling, in a way, requests “witnessing” from the listener, a kind of engagement that our culture is not so used to. We usually want to be talking, telling as it were, without regard for whether anyone is actually hearing what we are saying. So much do we do this and value it culturally that we have created Twitter, a very “telling” medium. What happens when we “tell” from the heart is of a very different order. When we speak from the heart, we invite witnessing, we invite others to see us in our truth, in our authenticity. Witnessing invites us to listen from our hearts just as someone else speaks from theirs. Can you drop your mind into your heart? Can you speak from there? What does that feel like?
In Chinese medicine the heart is also the residence of the mind. The brain may be the place where we process information, but the heart is where the spirit resides, where we can know what is true for us in a given moment. When you speak from the heart, you allow the spirit to enter the conversation. When you listen from the heart you allow the spirit to rest in the space with you. Everyone can tell.