10 Life-Changing Powers of your Wise Heart
The aftershocks of this recession have thrown alarming numbers of Americans into anxiety, fear and despair. NBC News reported last month that one out of every ten Americans take antidepressants—an increase of four hundred per cent since 2008, when the recession began. With the value of middle class homes and savings dropping 40 per cent the past four years, people need to know who and what they can trust now.
With unpredictable changes cracking people’s hearts wide open, now is the perfect climate for busy people to try new tools for transforming fear into freedom.
Waking Up Free: 10 Qualities of a Fearless Heart distills ancient Buddhist teachings and body-centered therapy into skillful daily practices without challenging anyone’s religious or therapy preferences. How? It occurs seamlessly by teaching non-Buddhist Christians how to name fear, judgment and doubt “thinking” without labeling it meditation. And by locating overwhelming fear, anxiety and despair in their body and breathing into the feeling directly for ten minutes. Both heart practices return inner peace and freedom while intercepting the habit of buying thoughts and feelings as reality.
In this book, Heart represents the Core of Who We Are.
When Buddha taught 2,500 years ago that every human heart is born with unlimited joy, kindness, compassion and inner peace, he meant Christians, Jews and people of all faiths—not just Buddhists. In the process of welcoming these ten heart qualities into daily life, readers replace depression with joy, anxiety with loving compassion towards their own and others’ humanness, and fear with an unshakable trust in life.
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For thirty years, as therapist, national workshop leader and Lutheran-turned-Buddhist, I polished these Heart Choices into diamonds. Without promoting Buddhism, I brought Trust, Curiosity, Awareness, Inner Sourcing and Compassion into the daily lives of thousands of Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish and Atheist clients. After watching anxiety and despair dissolve in minutes, they were hungry to know more.
Hundreds of real-life examples help readers decipher the unorthodox language of the heart. For example, Jen struggled with depression for years. But after locating her depression as a tight fist in her belly and holding the pain she had avoided in love (drawn from chapter five’s Heart Choices), she found tangible relief. “When I breathed directly into it, the depression melted into a peaceful spacious feeling I hadn’t known in years.”
Freedom is “being free of restraints,” according to Webster. Awareness frees us of habitual restraints. Once readers consciously choose between suffering or joy, fear or inner peace moment to moment, the answer is obvious. The first five choices offer freedom from unconscious fears and reactions by Being Trusting, Curious, Awake, Inner Sourcing and Compassionate. The last five choices awaken reader’s fresh responses in the moment with Generosity, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Integrity and Inner Peace. Conscious choice helps overwhelming anxiety and fear feel workable again.
Unlike our reactive, less mature ego, the heart possesses an uncanny ability to remain peaceful, despite outer circumstances. Applying such unorthodox heart choices as “loving fear and trusting changes” to life’s ups and downs open reader’s eyes to illogical solutions. It replaces ego’s habit of losing itself in fear’s story with spacious freedom.
WHY THIS BOOK IS NEEDED?
I met hundreds of therapists, social workers, drug counselors and psychologists while conducting national workshops to promote my first book, JOY, No Matter What (Conari, 2005, sold 12,000 copies, published in five languages). These professionals soaked up fresh choices to help clients handle fear, anxiety and depression. During 400 radio interviews on Joy, desperate men and women asked how to regain inner peace.
The Dalai Lama and today’s respected spiritual teachers say, “Now is the time for ordinary awakening.” Free Yourself brings easy tools of awakening in a language that ordinary people can understand. It helps readers to restore inner peace and freedom with such simple questions as “What story am I running now?” and “How am I suffering by my reaction?” By setting aside thoughts and feelings, readers free themselves to hear the kind, compassionate words of reassurance that live inside their heart. Like a good lover, the heart softly invites them to bask in the inner peace that is always present. It reminds them that, underneath thoughts, they are totally loving, compassionate and joyful, even in a recession. With practice, readers find that as their open mind and heart informs their life choices, they trust life. And they stay more balanced and peaceful.
Each of ten chapters offers one heart quality essential to meeting life’s challenges with confidence. The first heart choice, Being Present, lays the foundation. Subsequent chapters deepen awareness for the next heart choice. Following each chapter, four heart tools bring such concepts as Curiosity and Compassion into specific practical daily choices. Each heart tool fits easily into a morning commute, meditation or workout time.
PART I: Freedom from the Prison of Sabotaging Habits
Part I gives readers freedom from unconscious thoughts, fears and ego reactions:
- Your Trusting Heart (Chap One) grounds us in the Power of Conscious Choice.
- Your Curious Heart (Chap. Two) excavates genius in the Power of Simple Questions.
- Your Aware Heart (Chap Three) uncovers our True Self in the Power of Responsibility.
- Your Resourceful Heart (Chap Four) builds inner strength in the Power of Acceptance.
- Your Compassionate Heart (Chap Five) heals despair with The Power of Self-Love.
PART II: Awakening Freedom and Inner Peace beyond Personal Habits
Readers create a rich soil for cultivating genius heart qualities in their daily life:
- Your Kind Heart (Chap Six) shrinks personal reaction with the Power of generosity.
- Your Grateful Heart (Chap Seven) dismisses judgment with the Power of Appreciation.
- Your Forgiving Heart (Chap Eight) sheds resentment with the Power of Letting Go.
- Your Discerning Heart (Chap Nine) realigns our values with the Power of Integrity.
- Your Peaceful Heart (Chap Ten) downsizes problems with the Power of Surrender.
In this daily process, a reader’s sense of self undergoes an evolutionary shift—from reacting out of unconscious habit to holding all of life in loving compassion. As readers rest in the peace inside their heart, they unravel the inner map to freedom.