Spirit Matters: Home, indeed, is where the heart is

As I sit here writing this week’s reflection, I am listening to Jim Brickman’s “By Heart” album.

Brickman is a popular mainstream pianist, and this particular album was the first he released in 1995. I had just moved into my third apartment in Bloomington-Normal in less than two years, the one I would remain in until I moved back to Streator in 2005.

Through those years, 111 No. 8 became my home, my place of solace, in countless ways.

One of my favorite things about living there was the flowering crabapple tree, with its delicate pink blossoms, right outside my patio window. When I moved there in March 1995, the tree was soon in full bloom, and one of the highlights of living there was I watched the seasons come and go. It’s sublime beauty never failed to draw out the feminine spirit inside of me in new and renewing ways each year.

Early in my life inside those walls, I had bought myself a new stereo system with a rotating compact disc player. I can’t say for sure, but I believe this album was the first one I bought along with that player.

I do remember listening to this album often, and the way it anchored me, the way it helped me to live, to see the world around me, “by heart.” Looking back over time, I see now that this album became a homing device for me. Even now, as I listen to it 26 years later, it draws me home again.

Brickman’s music, and this album in particular, has an eerie way of calling all my energy that has wandered in a thousand directions “home,” and by “home,” I mean my heart center.

My heart center has always been the place where I feel most at home, no matter where I happen to be living at the time. It is the place I operate from most of the time, when my world and the world around me are in relative coherence. It is the place where I operate at my best, and do my best.

When my world and the world around me are out of coherence, I have learned ways over the years to get them back into sync as soon as possible, through trial and error. Ironically, the periods in my life since those young adult years that have been fraught with chronic stress were the catalysts for reminding me of my need to live from my heart center.

And I have found that need to live from my heart center isn’t just a personal need.

It is a collective need.

It is a need planted in our magnificently intricate and intelligent bodies by something bigger than us.

Whether you believe in a Creative Spirit higher than all things, as I do, or whether you subscribe to a more evolutionary approach (the two are not mutually exclusive), the heart has its own mind and its own energy field. In fact, the heart and the brain are in constant communication, and the heart actually sends more commands to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

The energy fields of our hearts extend outside of our bodies, so that when we are in close proximity with others, they can pick up on the “energy” of our heart, especially when those others are more attuned to the subtle sensations around them. Science has proven this, and it is a fascinating field to study.

These truths only confirm what most spiritual traditions have taught down through the centuries. Although the soul is mysterious, and can never be fully known, it seems as though the physical place that soul originates – the calm in the midst of the storm, if you will – is right there in our heart centers, in each and every one of us.

And it is when our hearts and our minds operate in a mutually supportive way that we operate at our best, that we achieve the unique end for which each of us is here in the first place.

Obviously, there are many complicating factors that can influence this relationship between our minds and hearts – our upbringing, our life experiences, our relationships, our health – so many factors.

But when all the dross is cleared away, one thing remains: The wisdom of the heart is everlasting.

The wisdom of the heart is our home.

· SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Email Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.