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With gratitude - JF
One year ago, I was emerging from the valley of a dark night of the soul. As my mind, heart and soul began to accept new realities, I began to see clearly who I was and what I wanted. Most of my focus was on connecting with my heart (the feminine) for the first time. As I did that work, I began to accept and experience a vast spectrum of emotions.
One year ago today, I wrote down three commitments:
Have a pure heart (no guile)
Operate from my center (don’t exile myself)
Live a true story (no performance)
One year later, I can say that I’ve accomplished all three. Not with perfection, but with awareness, re-adjusting and evolving.
Each of them had their own challenges, but having a pure heart was the biggest challenge. I had long used deceit as a survival tactic. I told stories that were an arrogant blend of truth and dishonesty - to others but mostly to myself. This helped me create a reality that I felt like I could control. By disconnecting from my heart, I could focus on applying my will to what I thought I wanted. As a result, the other two became untrue as well. I frequently exiled myself in order to hold on to this manufactured reality. And I certainly wasn’t living a true story.
“Speaking the truth is the main attribute of a pure hearted person.”
― Eraldo Banovac
For me having a pure heart has several components …
When you connect to your heart, it opens a vast palette of feelings. The mind will scramble to understand them; to affix meaning. I learned that having a pure heart is just to feel those feelings without judgment or attachment.
It was helpful to understand that a pure heart will produce raw feelings. As such, there are no bad or wrong feelings. Our mind, through social programming, affixes values to feelings. The heart feels what it feels and to suppress or deny or chase away those feelings is a source of great suffering.
I love a concept taught by one of my favorite thinkers, the South African mystic and tracker, Boyd Varty. He talks about “clean” vs “dirty” feelings. He posits that there are positive versions of unpleasant or unwanted feelings and negative versions of what is considered pleasant or desired feelings.
For me, having a pure heart was allowing myself to feel emotions I didn’t really want to feel but feeling them in a “clean” way. Several examples:
Clean anger - Anger is an emotion I’ve long been familiar with. I often used dirty anger to fuel my drive but that is harmful and unsustainable. Clean anger is anger that is the result of a boundary violation or an injustice. To deny this anger is to absolve myself of responsibility. Clean anger spurs clean action. It puts you in a place to practice courage and expression.
Clean sadness - My dear friend and business partner, Emily, once told me that I do whatever I can do to not feel pain. This was especially true related to feeling sad. I hated that feeling. It reminded me of depression and despair. But I learned that clean sadness is grief - and grief and Love are two sides of the same coin. Grieving allowed me to reconcile experiences and see the greater arc of all things working together for good.
Clean jealousy - This one has been the most difficult for me to reconcile. For one thing, I never really felt jealousy until this year so I didn’t know what to do with it. Contemplation, therapy and conversations have helped me see that “clean” jealousy is about being a protector. When experienced in a clean way, it is a more loving version of threat awareness - like a family dog protecting the house.
In many cases, these “clean” feelings only lasted for a brief period of time - roughly 90 seconds. By feeling them with a pure heart, I was able to ensure they didn’t become “dirty”: anger becoming resentment, protectiveness becoming possessiveness, grief becoming depression.
Living with a pure heart requires daily awareness and self-accountability. At the root of this is intention. I’ve long believed that I was responsible for my behavior but I now know that I’m also responsible for my intentions. My partner, Virginia, taught me a very useful question to ask related to expressing a thought or feeling: “Why am I sharing this?” This reconnects me to my intention. And if the intention is to manipulate, manage, coerce, beguile then I’m most certainly not living with a pure heart.
My most prevalent obstacle to living with a pure heart is my ego. It will quickly justify behavior, wall off my heart and drop me into an illusory reality. My emerging solution for this is to ignore 90% of what my mind (ego) says and focus on what my heart is feeling. To me, this is the essence and beginning of vulnerability; to be honest about a feeling, feel it all the way through and with the right intention, express it.