A few more words about the heart as we come to the last part of the heart season of summer. Many of us are experiencing the realms of the heart more strongly at this time, whether through dreams, emotions, or more physical manifestions such as night sweats, mouth sores, insomnia, and others.  Here are a few words to remind us about the heart time and heart spirit, or shen: joy, insight, inspiration, play, sweet and bitter, fire, blood, sweat, connection to universal spirit, sparks of the divine, highest self.

And sharing a few wisdoms of the heart, this heart which is our doorway to our great radiant universe of spirit:

More from Lorie Eve Dechar, speaking about the heart spirit/shen:

In a very young child, the shen shines out from the heart as the light of curiosity, joy and delight. Later, in the adolescent, it ignites the sparks of intellectual curiosity, idealism, passionate friendship and romance. And with maturity, the shen becomes the illuminating light of insight and the flame of intuitive knowing. Gradually, the yin effects of embodied life temper the wild fire of the yang. Then the light of the shen softens and transforms into the illumination of self-awareness and introspection. The shen, as pure yangconsciousness, depends on the structuring capacities of the other spirits to give it form.

It is only after the shen has been bathed over time in the yin waters of life on earth, after it has endured the losses, disappointments and suffering of its "descent" into the realm of time, space and gravity that the true alchemical transformation of the shen occurs. This is what the Taoists referred to as the "birth of golden flower"-- when the heavenly light of spirt, after long immersion in the transformational darkness of the earth, rises up from matter as a flower: the enlightened soul of the sage. This is when the true virtue of shen comes into being; when after all the challenges, disappointments and pain of a lifetime, the fiery flower of compassion and unconditional love blossoms from the depths of the heart space.

From Pema Chodron:

Tonglen practice has to do with cultivating fearlessness. When you do this practice for some time, you experience your heart as more open. You begin to realize that fear has to do with wanting to protect your heart: you feel that something is going to harm your heart, and therefore you protect it.... [B]y doing the practice you awaken your heart and you awaken your courage. When I say "awaken your heart," I mean that you're willing not to cover over the most tender part of yourself.... In tonglen... we are willing to breathe in painful things, we are also willing to breathe out our feelings of well-being, peace, and joy. We are willing to give these away, to share them with others.... "If you feel it, share it. Don't hold on to it. Give it away."... [B]odhicitta means "awakened heart" or "courageous heart." Bodhicitta has the qualities of gentleness, precision, and openness, being able just to let go and open up.... to awaken your heart or cultivate your courageous heart. It's like watering a seed that can flower. You might feel that you have only that little thimbleful of courage... but if you do the practice, it's like watering that seed, which seems to grow and flourish.

From Hafiz:

did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too

And one more thing to share for the moment-- I've been really finding flower infusions so lovely and helpful for this time of year. Lavender, roses, chamomile, chrysanthemum perhaps, gardenia buds, and herbs such as lemon verbena and basil, speak to the heart and are amazingly soothing and lifting especially on the warmer days of summer. (For more on foods and herbs and other recommendations for this time, please see the last blog or contact me directly for inspiration or resources.)

With heart, blessing, and gratitude, Shoshana