THE FULL HEART
THE FULL HEART
Prayer: Father, Mother, God; help me take good care of myself so that I can take good care of others. I struggle because I really want my loved ones to be happy, but I see them suffering and I can't fix it. Sometimes I feel helpless, impatient, and worn out. Show me how to take good care of myself. Surround me with supportive and loving people at home and in the community. Connect me with a trusted friend I can check in with when I need to deal with my emotions, frustrations, and feelings of stress. Guide me to small moments of quiet, calm and refuge during the day. Show me practical things I can do that will restore, refresh, and energize me. Give me a good night's sleep. Help me eat healthy, exercise regularly and laugh often. Give me the strength to set healthy boundaries.
Remind me to ask for help when I need it. Thank you for loving me. Amen.
In this month of thanksgiving and gratitude, we are exploring the way of the Whole Heart, and we will look at what it means to live from a place of wholeheartedness.
The aspects of wholeheartedness come from many native cultures that believe the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the four-chambered heart is the source of sustaining emotional and spiritual health and is described as being:
These traditions feel that it is important to check the condition of the four-chambered heart daily, asking:
Today, am I . . . open-hearted?
Today, am I . . . full-hearted?
Today, am I . . . clear-hearted?
Today, am I . . . strong-hearted?
This month, we are unpacking the aspects of wholeheartedness and each week we are taking one of the aspects of wholeheartedness.
Last week we looked at the Open Heart, which is a heart that:
First, knows itself AS Love; and
Then JOINS ITSELF WITH THAT WHICH EXTENDS AND COMPLETES ITS LOVE.
Remember that and the beautiful work we did last week?
This week, we will look at the Full Heart, which is a heart that is:
Fully engaged in the act of living.
That's what full-heartedness is.
As I began last week's topic with a story, I will do the same today. It is a story I have shared several times before, but it feels so appropriate for today, I want to share it again.
This one is about a wise woman who was traveling in the mountains where she found a precious, extremely valuable stone in a stream.
The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and he asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune, because he knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for the rest of his life and he thought what a fool the woman must be to have given it to him.
But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said. " I know how valuable this stone is, but I want to give it back to you in the hope that you will give me something different, something even more precious and more valuable."
"And what could that possibly be?" the woman asked kindly, but a bit confused.
And the traveler replied, "I want whatever you have within you that enabled you to give AWAY this stone."
What she had within her, my friends, was a Full Heart - not just a Full Heart, but a heart full to overflowing.
And true full heartedness is a heart that gives and engages in life from the overflow of the well, of the reserve, rather than from the well or reserve itself.
Think about that idea for a moment. We often speak about having our internal bucket full so that we can give to others.
But I love the idea that we need to have that internal bucket or well or reserve (whatever you want to call it) more than full, we need to have it full to overflowing; and then we give generously and we engage in life fully from the overflow - thereby never depleting the well.
Let's do a quick check in and see if anyone knows the experience of taking their well to below full. Half a tank? Quarter of a tank? Running on empty?
When that happens, we start showing up in life in half-hearted, rather than full-hearted ways, don't we?!
And what happens when we start being half-hearted? Talk to me. What happens? Physically tired. No energy. Resentful. Less than excited/passionate. Uninspired. Overworked. No creativity. No drive. Irritable. Disappointed in people and ourselves. Judgmental. Critical of self and others.
Some or all of those can be signs of half-heartedness.
Well, that's not the most joy-filled, God-filled way to be, now is it? We aren't Expressing God's Love, Being God's Light and Living God's Truth when we are there, are we?
So, the question of the morning is how do we fill our hearts to overflowing?
There are a lot of answers to that question, but I want to answer it in one way this morning:
Become a True Giver rather than a Doer!
There is a profound difference between doers and true givers. These concepts come from Amanda Owens' book The Power of Receiving:
People who "do" are not energized or emotionally fulfilled by their interactions . . . or in our language of this morning, people who "do" are dipping into their wells.
But those who "give," truly give, experience their connection and have deeply and mutually fulfilling transactions.a
In our language of this morning, not only are they are giving from their overflow, but they are also replenishing the well!
'Doing for' is an experience of separation; 'giving to,' on the other hand, is an experience of unity.
'Doing' stems from a feeling of lack. While true giving comes from a feeling of wholeness.
Thought provoking ideas, aren't they? So, let's explore for a moment what is "doing" and why we might do it!
And as I say these, just check in with yourself. Do you find yourself doing, which depletes the well and creates half-hearted living?
1. We are "doing" rather than "giving" if we have an internal or external expectation about how we should behave.
"Doing" out of expectations has little to do with our authentic nature. Habitually putting other people's needs in front of our own at the expense of our own usually comes from expectations.
2. Or we are "doing" rather than "giving" if we are operating from an enabling paradigm. I know I may be stepping on toes now, but here we go! I thought this was a good explanation in The Power of Receiving: "Enabling behavior is when you habitually do something for people that they are perfectly able to do for themselves. You also are enabling when you do something that prevents people from experiencing the consequences of their actions."b
Here are a few examples:
A mother who constantly picks up after her children rather than teaching them to put their things away.
A person who covers for her coworker's habitual tardiness by doing that person's work.
A parent who continually takes care of or financially supports an adult child.
Someone who constantly "loans" money to a gambling addicted friend.
Remember, doing depletes the well!
3. We are "doing for" another rather than "giving to" another when we expect something in return. "If I do this for you, then I will get you to do something for me, I will get you to see me in a certain light, I will get you to love me!" We sometimes "help" in the hope that the recipient will want to reciprocate. In reality, the more we do, the more the recipient may take! Right?!
4. Or, we might "do," which depletes, rather than "give," which replenishes, so we can play the martyr or so we can look good, impressive, important!
So, none of these things . . .
Doing for another because we have an internal or external expectation about how we should behave;
Doing in expectation of something in return; or
Doing to look good (and I will be the first to confess that I have done all of them!) . . .
. . . none of these is true giving!
And they deplete our hearts rather than fill them because they come from a place of:
separation, not unity;
lack, not wholeness;
fear, not love.
Oh, that's juicy, so let me say it again:
These acts of "doing" deplete our hearts rather than fill them because they come from a place of:
separation, not unity; lack, not wholeness; fear, not love.
Feelings of separation, lack and fear deplete us - because they are out of sync with Spiritual Truth.
Feelings of unity, wholeness and love fill us to overflowing - because they are aligned with Spiritual Truth!
True giving fills us because when we are engaged in it, we are expressing the very powerful Divine Quality of Generosity.
And is Spirit not generous?! Oh, my golly, yes!!
Leddy and Randolph Schmelig wrote in Steps in Self-Knowledge: "When grace is felt to be in activity, the flow of life freely follows the underlying current of Spirit, which leads always to freedom"c
And in the Handbook of Positive Prayer: "Grace is not a special activity of God reserved only for human emergencies. It is omnipresent. As the principle which governs the cosmic process and as the cosmic process itself, God is always pouring out love and mercy"d
And Eric Butterworth in his book Spiritual Economics, then brings it to us when he writes: "God is the divine givingness of the Universe. And you are created in the image and likeness of this divine givingness. You cannot make any sense out of life or realize the free flow of substance in your experience until you begin to see yourself as a giver."e
Not a doer - but a giver, one who is expressing the Divine Quality of Generosity!
So, what does it mean to express generosity?
Well, Wayne W. Dyer in Manifest Your Destiny, says it beautifully: "Generosity includes offering kindness, care, love and nurturing where it is needed. Furthermore, the spirit of generosity can and does ultimately relate to how we treat ourselves. If you have a generous heart that has no qualms about giving, you will treat yourself lovingly and will nurture yourself without feeling any sense of guilt."f
I need to say that last line again because it is so powerful: "If you have a generous heart that has no qualms about giving, you will treat yourself lovingly and will nurture yourself without feeling any sense of guilt."
Isn't that beautiful? Where is it that you need to treat yourself more lovingly; where do you need to engage in true giving to yourself so that you fill your own heart and don't walk around half-hearted?!
There is a terrific website called "Tiny Buddha - Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives" and on it, it has 45 tiny ideas for self-care. I thought we could now take a deep dive into each one of them! You've still got several hours to spend here, don't you?
OK, we won't do that, but I thought I would pull the Top Ten from the list to prime the pump and encourage you to go on the site.
1 Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that's been there for ages, and you'll never do.
2 Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that don't bring you joy.
3 Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy. (For inspiration, try Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert or Mutts.)
4 Have a good cry!
5 Stretch out the kinks. If you're at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.
6 Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
7 Fix a small annoyance at home that's been nagging you - sew on that button that came off a pair of pants two years ago, fix a drawer that's stuck.
8 Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you're good at and find an opportunity for it today.
9 Ask for help - big or small but reach out.
10 Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.g
I want to end with a beautiful quote from Leigh Shoju Loesch Macaro. It speaks to having a heart full to overflowing: "Whatever it may be that your soul and your heart needs may you find it easily, eagerly, gently, wondrously, and healthfully. May it open you up and make you kinder, wiser, [and more wholehearted]. May it make the world around and within you brighter, swe eter, spacious and nurturing. May you have rest when you need, energy to do good, laughter like mountains and tears like a spring rain. May you have a mind that opens readily and releases graciously. May your heart be full. "h
aAmanda Owens The Power of Receiving p. 33-34
bAmanda Owens The Power of Receiving p. 38
cLeddy and Randolph Schmelig Steps in Self-Knowledge p. 90
dHypatia Hasbrook Handbook of Positive Prayer 152
eEric Butterworth Spiritual Economics, p. 169
fWayne W. Dyer Manifest Your Destiny, p. 158
gwebsite "Tiny Buddha - Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives"
hLeigh Shoju Loesch Macaro