HEALERS OF THE HEART:
SUBMITTED TO PUBLISHER ON VALENTINES DAY 2021
FIVE TRANSFORMATIONAL DISCOVERIES TO
By using the breath to move into the space of contraction, meaning feelings of constriction, painful or stifled emotional states, without avoiding what is experienced, we have endless opportunities to break through the painful barriers of separation to freedom.
"I immediately sensed a narrowing of my throat and heart space, along with a growing physical sensation of anxiety. The anxiety seemed to be locked in my stomach and chest so that breathing was difficult. I invited Shiva, the deity of fire, to burn away this resistance, fully breathing in the healing energy that surrounded me. The results were extremely powerful. There was an even greater opening within my heart center, best described as freeing. A physical release had somehow occurred, letting go of an area of constriction that had been guarding my heart. I had not realized it had even existed until it was gone."
~Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within
and living life with an open heart.
For me, the caves became my sanctuary and a place of healing. Within the white plaster domed walls and ceilings of the caves, they provided a secure boundary for me to fully explore, bring to the surface, and deal with my most hidden emotions. Numerous hours were spent in meditation, often two to four hours during each sitting as I continued to challenge myself to go deeper. I applied a combination of meditation approaches including choiceless awareness, self-inquiry, abiding in spacious awareness, present moment awareness, and especially breathing through the sensations of resistance (contraction). I used techniques and insights gained through attending Vipassana retreats and following the breath, to now focusing on my inner world of feelings and perceptions. Just as I learned to observe how thoughts come and go, I started to do this with my emotional reactions and sensations.
Eventually, I learned to welcome whatever was arising—thoughts, feelings, and sensations. I returned to the caves often. ‘Being with what is’ became my sole practice. Whatever story would rerun in my head from life back home in the states or even from years past, I welcomed the associated feelings and sensations into the space of my heart. Before long, my heart and body ached as if I was taking too much in. My past conditioning taught me how to transform feelings, or rather how to avoid what I was really feeling, such as anxiety, anger, rejection, confusion, etc. Mysteriously, I felt determined to do the opposite of what I’d learned to do all of my life. It was time for a show down with myself, come what be. My favorite cave, the oldest of the two called the Virupaksha Cave, was where this show down of the heart was going to take place and I knew it.
Instead of creating a positive mental image to replace what I was experiencing or to find refuge in spacious awareness, I fought the urge to escape from what was happening. I would stop myself from having my attention distracted or entranced by the scenery, people coming into the cave, or even a bug crawling on me—I did the opposite of my usual impulses. I sat unmoving and completely present to what is. I accepted whatever was being presented, moment by moment, whether the mind liked it or not. If I remembered something painful, felt anxiety or stiff legs, I let it be. And, by doing so, I learned something valuable about myself. The more I accepted life on its terms without trying to change it, the more I could be with life when it was uncomfortable. And, the more I accepted what was uncomfortable; paradoxically it no longer felt uncomfortable.
My heart opened. I felt expansive with love as I welcomed my own humanity, including any perceived flaws. I allowed my breath to lead me as I entered deeper and deeper realms and dimensions within my heart. It felt as though I entered an inner chamber of my own heart, and felt absolutely filled with love and gratitude. I felt a release of monumental proportions, with each breath a deeper surrender. Life was happening in whatever way it was and I was finally okay with it.
So, when I returned to “real” life, out of the caves, and back to my life and busy job in the states, I discovered my heart could expand to the roles I play. The caves of India taught me that acceptance is the key to freedom and happiness. While I learned much about myself during those often magical times, I learned the cave of my own heart is here always and ever ready to embrace life as it is. It welcomes it all despite what my mind may think. All that is required is to slow down, be present with what is going on around me, fully relax into whatever I am feeling, then breathe.
By taking a single conscious breath, and letting thoughts go is enough to relax into the heart. Feelings of contraction are then nurtured by the space of expansion. This is where we are able to fully meet what life is presenting, and we never need to go anywhere. It is to simply remember and to hold willingness for the possibility of our hearts opening even further.
Acceptance is truly the key to living life with an open heart. May we embrace life as it is, and live with an willingness to fully know our own waiting heart.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramana.
The gift of the blank page. A freeing perspective for addressing writer's block.
(the bliss of Shiva).
Drawing: Inspired by a dream in 2012 while traveling in Thailand, after returning from India. Shiva is represented by the imposing Shivalinga blessed with sacred white and red ash, the holy hill of Arunachala (Ramana's true love) in the background dabbled with green and topped with white ash representing the endless and beautiful cycle of impermanence, and finally roses intertwined with the dancing swirls of Shiva's embrace showing the blessed and powerful union of Shiva Shakti.
An excerpt from my book; During the second day of the retreat, I experienced sensations during meditation that are difficult to describe. The more love was being received back into the heart, the love affair with the Divine, Shiva, was happening within me. Yet, this union was formless and timeless. I experienced the first of many floodings on a physical, emotional and spiritual level when I first heard “Shivananda” within me. It was an intense current of energy filling my body with such bliss and tenderness. On the third day of the retreat there was more ‘flooding’ and a shift of perception in the boundaries of the heart. The sense of presence was expanding once more. My journal continued, "The sacred word, Shivananda continues to come to me. A devotional feeling of Shiva presented itself in a flash of union, as a tantric energy moved up my chakras. Mysteriously, my love for the Divine has returned to the heart as love for myself. The merging I once prayed for is happening. A spacious-awareness without boundaries is becoming prevalent, as though my heart is now sensing the whole Universe. The blissful floodings continue to come in like waves and are lasting long periods of time." On the last day of the retreat I felt a timeless quality of being connected to everything and everyone. I wrote, “All resides in the Heart, how wonderful. Love is limitless when we fully open to it—It just flows in and in endlessly.... I knew Shivanada was a name that didn't belong to me. However, Shivananda seemed to be naming this union of myself fully opening to and receiving the love of the Divine." ~Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within
We are what we seek. Consciousness is ever present right now!
I finished the first draft of the manuscript in 2005 following my first trip to the sacred mountain Arunachala. I returned in 2006 where I added journal entries that were for "my eyes only." I wanted to make the book "real" to the spiritual search, so the book is a honest account of a path to awakening.
Please describe some unique aspects your book offers:
1. By telling this story in chronological order, readers are taken on a colorful pilgrimage from meditation retreats in the U.S., walking with sadhus in the Himalayas, falling in love with a Mountain in India, to finally finding the teacher within in Bali.
2. A variety of meditation techniques and spiritual teachings are weaved into the book, so the reader can explore a variety of practices to help them begin or deepen their spiritual practice.
3. Common spiritual roadblocks such as giving thoughts authority, and the dance of the student-teacher relationship are included to normalize these struggles on the path, along with specific teachings and insights that proved helpful on the way.
4. Throughout my spiritual search, I worked a full-time job as a social worker. I share a variety of practices used to bring spirituality to daily life.
5. Working through a variety of emotions proved freeing on my path. I share what I learned intuitively in the caves of India, and how these techniques can be used in daily life.
6. I followed a path of devotion balanced with the practices of self-inquiry, otherwise known as the search for truth. I describe both paths, and how in the end they converge and lead to the end of seeking.
It is my greatest hope that this book finds those who can most benefit from its encouraging message: We are what we seek. Consciousness is ever present right now!
Hi, I'm Cathy Rosewell Jonas, author of Bringing Home the Mountain: Finding the Teacher Within. My book is dedicated to the many who have embarked on a spiritual quest to find themselves, may you all find the way home to your own heart. My newest book, to be released late September 2021, is called Metamorphosis of an Awakened Heart- With Teachings from Mother Ayahuasca.
Visit my Awakening the Spiritual Heart website to learn more.
Contact Cathy Rosewell Jonas, LCSW
by Rachel Gertie Dean.