Is It Your Heart or Mind Speaking?

Two cards, isolated on black, clipping path included

by Gregory Toole

Often as I work with my spiritual coaching clients, the question of how to distinguish between the voice of our heart and the voice of our mind comes up. With practice and awareness, we can begin to distinguish between the two, and in doing so learn how to trust each of them for what they have to offer.

I sometimes refer to the mind as the “back and forth” because when we are engaging a question purely with the mind, we often go back and forth, saying things like “well maybe this is the best option because of such and such, or maybe this other option is better for this other reason, and then again maybe this third option is even better. That’s the mind, or what some Buddhists have referred to as the monkey mind, just running wild, and often leading us further into confusion.

The heart is more subtle, and surer, when we tune into it. We connect with it through our feeling nature. As we move closer to what is real in the heart, we feel more expansive and free. As we move away from it, we feel more contracted. I am reminded of that guessing game many of us played as kids where we hid something and we told the one trying to find it that they were getting “warmer” if they were moving closer to the hidden object, or “colder,” if they were moving away from it.

The heart is like that. We feel into it. In making a decision from the heart, we can ask, how does choosing each option feel? In other words, is there a resonance at a feeling level with a particular option or not. Unlike the mind, there’s no back and forth. The heart is more like a compass pointing the way, and we keep following it to see where it leads us.

The rational mind is a wonderful resource, and it can certainly steer us into making decisions that are reasonable, can help us avoid danger, and help us make sure we are being practical and realistic.

However, when it comes to decisions that are more about what aligns us more fully with our soul and our deeper calling, then it is only the heart that can guide us.

When I decided to leave my corporate career 20 years ago, my rational mind had previously convinced me to stay in that corporate career for years until finally I couldn’t ignore where my heart was guiding me. At some point, all the arguments of my rational mind just couldn’t overcome the intensity of pure feeling that was coming from my heart. It was less of a “yes” to something new than it was a huge “NO” to my corporate career. I had spent so much energy and effort silencing my heart in favor of my rational mind, I could hardly even access the “YES” that had been calling me for so long. At that time, I only knew there was a big “NO” to my corporate career, and it was over.

It took some time for me to really hear the voice of my heart again after pushing it down for so long, but gradually, as I began to listen more deeply, I got in touch with this great gift that is the voice of the heart. Then the “YES” came more clearly into my awareness, and I followed every expansion of clarity until it finally led me to the spiritual teaching and coaching services that I offer today.

The voice of the heart is really the voice of divine intuition, of divine wisdom and guidance. That voice is found through our feeling nature rather than our thinking nature. To hear the voice of the heart we must become still, and let the mind rest a little. The practice of meditation is the greatest aid in this process.

We need not discount the value of the mind as it has great value to us. What is important is to bring the heart and mind in balance, and to access the mind for what it is good at, such as planning and analytic tasks, and let the heart guide us in matters of the soul, our purpose, and direction.

How great that we have such powerful inner resources!

Enjoy the journey.

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