I’m recently back from retreat, and once again I am convinced that taking time away from the incessant noise of our society is good for my soul. I can hear myself so much more clearly when I’m unplugged than when I am constantly navigating and responding to external communications and distractions. I can tune in more completely to the wisdom of my heart that perceives possibilities that my analytical mind is simply unable to access.
While on retreat I always do a drawing or two by heart — meaning, I let my intuition guide the process — something I wrote about in a previous post, The Life of a Heartist. This year on retreat I again immersed myself in the fluid ways of intuitive knowing, and in the process I saw more clearly that when we live guided by the heart, we must by definition live in the field of uncertainty.
Our society values certainty. We live in a very left-brained culture that believes that in order to accomplish anything you must have a clearly laid out plan and you must focus your attention on numbers, statistics and “proven” strategies. All of that has its place, but only if it is in service to the heart’s desires and the heart’s guidance. To live a life in alignment with our deepest values and soul purpose, the heart must be in the driver’s seat.
I suspect one reason we prefer to live out of the analytical left-brain is that we feel more secure. If we can head out the door knowing exactly where we’re going and how we’re going to get there, we feel safe.
To live by heart is to live very differently. When we live by heart we center our lives not in certainty, but in trust. We don’t know ahead of time what the outcome of our actions nor the destination of our path will be. We simply follow the step-by-step leading of our intuition.
When we are willing to release our insistence on certainty, we can open up to the infinite possibilities of uncertainty.
Like the quantum void, uncertainty contains all possibilities, and therefore it can allow to come forth things that are more innovative and surprising than the analytical mind, with all of its plans and strategies, ever could. Certainty locks us into one limited, predetermined outcome. Uncertainty opens us up to a limitless horizon.
I’ve been learning a lot about living by heart in recent years. Nearly three years ago I left my vocation of 17 years as a pastor. I didn’t plan to leave. I simply knew intuitively that it was time. I was paying attention to dreams and synchronicities, and a deep inner quiet sense of knowing.
Not only hadn’t I planned to leave, I didn’t have a plan about what was to come next. One could see this as a very foolish thing to do, and I suppose on one level it was.
But on another it was very wise, because without placing myself squarely in the field of uncertainty, and confronting the fear that came from doing that, I couldn’t gain the wisdom that was waiting for me or cultivate the ability to trust deeply even in the face of the unknown.
I can tell you from experience that the analytical mind, which is used to being in charge of our lives, freaks out when we step into uncertainty. It freaks out because it can’t see what is ahead, and it mistakenly assumes that there is nothing ahead.
In that, it is wrong. There is always something ahead, whether we can see it or not.
If one is willing to persevere through the fear, a deeper knowing emerges, a clear realization that there are forces at work that are far greater than the individual self or mind. When we live by heart, when we are willing to relinquish control over our lives, that greater wisdom will not only guide us, it will create through us and live in us.