The sage imparted his wisdom, saying, “We all face the same set of worries and problems, which are like a handful of salt. The difference between us lies in our hearts. Is it small like a cup of water, or is it large and benevolent like a beautiful lake? If you live with a scarcity mindset, always focusing on your inadequacies and fears, you are living in a constricted heart space. When problems, like the palmful of salt, enter your small heart cup, you’ll feel overwhelmed with bitterness. The material world will continue to throw challenges at you, and you’ll become internally disgusted with life. However, if you learn to expand your heart space and make it big and beautiful like a lake of sweet water, if you live with abundance and gratitude, then you’ll be able to withstand the whirlwind that blows your way. The worries of this world won’t affect you, and you’ll taste the sweetness of life in your earthly journey.”
The choice is ours: are we willing to open our hearts to newer and exciting possibilities? Can we live in this expanded heart space, which is our real home in the inner world?
An expanded Heart Space or Home State involves purifying our emotions and developing spiritual sentiments. Most spiritual traditions advocate meditation as a practice to make the mind peaceful. However, the school of Bhakti Yoga, which ISKCON belongs to and where I have been a practicing monk for over twenty-five years, teaches the science of cultivating beautiful spiritual emotions for God.
For a Bhakti Yoga practitioner, meditation truly means expanding the mind and eventually going beyond the mind to enter the space of the heart. Here’s a simple meditation exercise you can try right now: Imagine if God appeared before you at this moment and asked you to thank Him for any three gifts you received in the last twenty-four hours. Slow down your mind, take a deep breath, and search for the answers. Perhaps being alive and healthy is something you’re thankful for, or maybe you had an exotic breakfast that you enjoyed, and the fact that you could relish it is a matter of celebration.
The first step is to think, where you search for an event to thank the Lord. Then, enter the space of that episode and feel the emotions of gratitude. Even if you can’t thank God for many gifts, the fact that you are searching for a “thank you” emotion makes you move from your head to the heart, and your heart expands. You’ll notice that your heart is filled with a desire for gratitude. This is the ‘heart of meditation.’
Problems and challenges are inevitable in our lives, such as struggling to find a new job or pay our mortgage, or experiencing difficulties in a relationship. However, for a Bhakti Yoga practitioner, a daily practice of chanting the Holy Names of God or offering prayers of gratitude can help us transcend the mind and enter the space of the heart.
To be continued….