Awakening the Inner Heart Guru – Kundalini Shakti – Heart Fire as Creative Power, Secret Gnosis Knowledge of our world and the heart as a transformer of energies that connects to all and everything
In the earliest tantric scripture, kundalini shakti, the creative life force and the kinetic aspect of consciousness, was always located within the heart. Though this is not well known today, it was not until the thirteenth century that the first written record appeared saying that kundalini rests coiled at the base of the spine.
Kundalini shakti is the vibrating light that pulses the heart, coiling and uncoiling as the yogi or yogini’s inner Heart Fire. Beautiful sutras and poems from the great tantric sages confirm this understanding of the inner Heart Fire as kundalini shakti, and in them we learn to tend this fire by offering mantra, breath, and bhakti devotion to the heart. Just as a fire in the hearth is nourished and flourishes from fuel, the fuel of a practitioner’s offering kindles and stokes the brilliance of consciousness. Knowing this, as practitioners we can draw the moon and sun into our bodies through the in-breath and out-breath, as expressed in this passage:
The Source manifests into form before the yogi, who in continual devotion is unwavering in his one-pointed focus as his awareness is drawn toward the emergence within the heart of Kundalini Shakti who, as the embodiment of pure consciousness, arises as a spark generated by the fire stick (arani) formed through the fusion of the lunar in-breath and solar out-breath as they are merged together in the heart.
The meeting of sun and moon can be found in the friction that starts the ritual fire, with the churning of lovemaking symbolized by the back-and-forth movement of the fire-stick in the “womb” of the sacrificial altar. This ritual reenacts the fire of creation in the heart of the cosmic body and within our own hearts in meditative practice. In tantric practice, the sun- and moon-breaths are fused in the heart in kumbhaka, the stillness between in-breath and out-breath, and the mantra is “seeded” there into a coil.
The friction of the pulsing mantra combines the radiance of the sun- and moon-breaths and sparks the fire of arising kundalini in the heart. This merging is not just an esoteric union. It is experienced in every moment, particularly in heightened states when the heart and brain are in coherent flow and a meditative consciousness can arise within the fabric of everyday life.
When we are in these states, we are able to perceive the extraordinary beauty and mysterious truths of life: shivam satyam sundaram—consciousness is truth and beauty. The Heart Fire is alive with the energetic potency of the life force. We can hear and feel it in the pulse and life-giving energy of the breath. The heart center is the embodied nexus of tantric meditation, the vision of the dancing universe—our continually pulsating quantum field of life—embodied in the movements of yogis and yoginis and the dancing mystics through the ages.
The Sanskrit word bhakti originates from the word bhaj, meaning to “belong to” or “share in” as well as “to worship.” Its meaning is often interpreted as “devotion,” but the full meaning is beyond definition, as it is the igniting of a natural feeling of devotion, an inner realization of the fire of love that has been core to yoga from the beginning. It was first described as a path of realization through love of God in all forms and all ways, or bhaktimarga, in the Bhagavad Gita (500 BCE).19 Central to bhakti is an emphasis on a mystic and loving experience with the Source.
The Heart Fire in the form of bhakti ignited a revolutionary change in yoga when bold ones on the path were transformed by their direct experience of the Source. The transforming fire of bhakti lit a flame across India. It is characterized by the dissolution of all caste and wealth restrictions; equality of men and women as the true vision of Oneness and love; and the writings of its poet-saints, male and female.
Awakening the Inner Heart Guru
The heart of the universe pulses in all hearts. There is One who is the life in all forms. There is One who is joyfisl in simply existing—in all bodies, as all bodies. Explore the life that is the life of your present form. One day you will discover it is not different From the life of the Secret One, And your heart will sing triumphant songs of being at home everywhere. —THE RADIANCE SUTRAS”.
Our Heart Guru is our visceral encounter with our inner source. Heart Guru is “the one who transforms darkness,” an emanation of the transforming fire of connectedness and love, an intimate teacher that speaks in a language beyond words. This is our internal guidance system, a living connection to the source within that enables us to find yoga everywhere. The Heart Guru is
The fire of Consciousness that guides us through the matrix of life: the sacred and mundane, this world and beyond, the ordinary and extraordinary
Ishta devata our personal connection to God, the divine current
The master Teacher of all teachers who have ever existed or will ever be
The mother rhythm pulsing in the heartbeat and all of the body’s pulsations, connected to the cosmic rhythm
Our inner navigation system in speech, thought, and action
Our beloved refuge
The fire of Consciousness that guides us through the matrix of life: the sacred and mundane. this world and beyond. the ordinary and extraordinary > Ulna dovta our personal connection to God. the divine current
Close your eyes and awaken your inner gaze by letting your awareness stream downward from the back of your eyes into your heart center. Feel the sensations in your heart region and open to a sacred connection, a living presence felt within.
Open your “inner ears” and listen for an internal language beyond words. Dive into your center. Bathe in the regenerative love in your heart, stronger than any dissonance on the surface. As the One that is sometimes “two,” experience the inner sanctum of your heart as a place of refuge. Completely surrender there. As you melt into this fire, feel a sacred presence—your connection to the One. This is your Heart Guru, inseparable from your very essence: the inner friend, Beloved.
O Guru, pierce my eye with the needle of discernment so that I may see the light.
Feel your relationship with the One who has been with you since your first breath, alive in the altar of your Heart Fire.
Embodying the Heart Fire: The Science of the Energetic Heart
OUR BODY MIRRORS our cultural evolution. How we see ourselves limits or liberates our experience. Our experience shapes how we engage in the world. We are engaged in a planetary shift as we re-embody our energetic heart and retrieve the fire from within. Our bodies and our lives are regulated by the cycles of the earth and the rhythms of the cosmos.
As day flows into night, and as night gives way to dawn, our bodies synchronize with the solar and lunar cycles even when we attempt to override their rhythms. The human body’s core physiological functions are tied to the oscillations of the sun and moon, from the most obvious—sleep cycles—to the pineal gland, which for optimal functioning depends upon the full-spectrum light of the sun.
The great conductor of the body’s rhythms is the pulse of the heart. The heart is the only organ made of specialized cells—cardiac cells—with the unique capacity to create a pulsing electrical charge. This charge in turn creates a vast electromagnetic field of energy. As the most powerful “rhythm maker” of the body, the heart has the ability to govern all of the body’s other rhythms.
The heart is—yes—a pump, but one of extraordinary power. It moves two thousand gallons of blood through sixty thousand miles of the circulatory system every hour, with a hydraulic power that could push water into the sky some thirty feet.1 But this is far from the whole story—even from a purely scientific standpoint. The heart also radiates an electrical field that communicates with all other cells of the body through the fluid medium of the blood, which transmits vibration three times faster than air. Its “language” is its oscillating rhythm, ranging from slow and peaceful to hurried and excited. This rhythm is present in tension or relaxation, in stress or joy, in conflict or love. The electromagnetic field is such a force of communication that in heart-transplant recipients the heart and brain communicate through the energetic field rather than through the nervous system—specifically the vagus nerve, which is severed during the transplant surgery? This is just one example of the power of the heart’s energetic field.
The Sun in the Heart: The Heart’s Electromagnetic Field The heart’s electromagnetic field is five thousand times stronger than the brain’s, radiating forth from our core like the body’s own fiery sun. When we understand some of the key energetic functions of the heart, it becomes easier for us to experience this sunlike radiance, so let’s take a look at how the heart works. While the blood carries chemicals and cells, it also carries electromagnetic signals that travel to every cell of the body.
The entire body, in fact, is held within the heart’s electromagnetic field, which can be measured as far as ten feet away with a magnetocardiogram, a device that shows fluctuations of the heart as it responds to both internal and external environments.4 As we shall see, this “heart field” strengthens and weakens according to our inner connection to our heart, a quality we can sense in the heart fields of others, those who radiate positive energy and those who telegraph some disconnection from their hearts.
The Heart is a Electromagnetic Field is believed to act as a central synchronizing signal within the boidy an important carrier of emotional:, information and a key mediator of energetic interactions between people. Living and acting from a coherent heart state can affect those around us —ROLLIN McCRATY, INSTITUTE OF HEARTMATH.
The heart transmits pulses of electromagnetic energy—and receives them. Thus it is an organ of perception and can decode the information embedded within the electromagnetic fields it senses.’ Take your heart into vast fields of light and let it breathe. – HAFIZ
The heart has a direct vibrational influence on every cell of the body—and beyond. It influences other organs or organisms through entrainment, a phenomenon in which two or more processes or organisms synchronize with one another’s movements. This is a state of yoga, or joining together, a coherence between multiple rhythmic patterns. Together these patterns create an unbroken stream of energy, or coherence—a state that brings all of our systems into their optimal flow for creating, sustaining, and regenerating life force.
Instead of seeing the brain as the sole source of our intelligence, we begin to realize that it’s a remarkable partner to our heart, not its master.
Throughout our lives the heart sends more signals to the brain than vice versa. Although we may perceive a split between heart and brain, they love to be in synch. When our brainwaves and heart rhythms come into a state of entrainment, or “heart-brain coherence,” we are at our highest state of energy flow, physically, mentally, and emotionally. With the intellectual understanding that heart and brain synchronize naturally, we can begin to feel this coherence as a natural state of yoga. And we can see how ancient meditations and other practices—focused attention, breathing in rhythm, chanting, music, movement—facilitate alignment between the two. This is the science at work when we tend the energetic heart or Heart Fire in meditation.
The heart is where the body senses new information first. Then, with every beat, it relays a burst of neural activity to the medulla, located at the base of the brain, via the vagus nerve and nerves in the spinal column—the same pathways that carry pain and other feeling sensations to the brain. Energy, or information that vibrates, constantly flows between heart and brain, assisting us in our emotional processing, sensory experience, ability to derive meaning from events, and reasoning.
When we shift our focus to the heart and away from the brain, large populations of cells in the forebrain entrain to the heart’s rhythms. There is a tremendous ripple effect that we can noticeably perceive as the first sign that our awareness of our heart’s energy has begun. Mental dialogue is reduced.
Messages flow freely and directly between the heart and brain through the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve pathways, as well as the baroreceptor system (sensory nerves in the arteries). Connectivity increases between brain and body, and neuronal firing increases. Greater heart-brain entrainment allows a person to function at higher states which can be consciously practiced through intentional focus on the heart.
When we attune to the pulse of the heart, we become able to sense subtle movement toward stress and we can make a conscious shift toward balance. We can develop our own unique healthy heart rhythms and shift into more “solar” or “lunar” modes of being, from fully expressive to quiet and reflective. By tuning in to the heart in this deep and nuanced way, we can create the openness and flexibility that remove constrictions around the heart. Slower heart rhythms alter brainwave frequencies in such a way that deeper states of being can occur. At the deepest levels of entrainment, our brainwaves and heart rhythms are in synch with every other cell in the body, creating a field of energy that extends beyond it. The strength of this field literally depends upon how aware of and connected to the heart we are. At the end of this chapter, I provide a meditation to help you become more connected to your energetic heart as the key to living in rhythm with the pulse of life. If we are aware of how damaging “disconnected stress” is to our system and, in contrast, how powerfully regenerating the state of love is for our whole being, we will be more aware of which “fire” we are fueling.
Heart-Brain Entrainment and the Healing Power of Love The word emotion literally means “energy in motion” and is derived from the Latin verb meaning “to move.” when you experience stressful emotions such as frustration, agitation, and impatience, your heart rate variability—your heart rhythm—becomes erratic and disordered.
When you tend your fires with regenerative, core heart feelings such as gratitude or tenderness, you effectively intercept the physiological stress response that drains and damages your system, and you allow the body’s natural regenerative capacities to work in your favor. Instead of being taxed and depleted, your inner system—your mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions—is renewed through your own inner yoga or coherence.” When your heart is in a state of coherence with your brain, you more easily experience meditative states, optimal flow, and a connection to life. Stressful reactions are more likely to occur when the head and heart are out of alignment.”
The Energetic Bond: Heart-to-Heart Entrainment Science is in its infancy concerning the complicated energetic connections that take place between people, but it’s already clear that if we touch someone while feeling an emotion such as tenderness, we’re transmitting a signal to that person’s body that promotes their well-being and health.
Caring for someone or something has an uplifting effect on us as well, one that goes directly to our hearts. It is a regenerative experience that we can pass on to someone else.” One person’s heart rhythms can entrain with those of another person; this has been seen in spouses who live and sleep together and in people who work closely together physically over time.
Just as pacemaker cells can detect and synchronize with one another to establish a beat, the electromagnetic field generated by one person’s heart can be detected in another person, both when they are physically touching and when they are only nearby (measured up to ten feet away). The more interaction two people have, the stronger will be the patterns imprinted in their hearts and other cells.
My heart is burning with love. All can see this flame. My heart is pulsing with passion, like waves on an ocean. I’m at home, wherever I am. And in the room of lovers I can see with closed eyes the beauty that dances. Behind the veils intoxicated with love, I too dance the rhythm of this moving world.— RUMI
COLLECTIVE HEART MANDALA-THE “HEART-CHARGING STATION”
IN A WORLD where we too often devalue affection and community bonding in the ways of our ancestors, “heart charging” is one of the most radical and effective ways we can recharge our energetic heart.
We sense in deep time how the rhythms of breath, heart pulse, blood flow, activation, and relaxation create a tidal movement that mirrors the cosmic rhythm. The ancient vision of our ancestors that is reflected in the yoga practices that connect the body with the cosmos does not seem so strange now. We can find the sun in our heart as the radiant field, the moon in our heart as the hormonal nectar of love. We can become embodied firekeepers, practical household alchemists. Meditation becomes natural as our whole being reattunes itself to our inner fire—the living fire that is the expression of our energetic heart.