Saturday, January 21, 2012

Uppers and Downers for the Heart

Twice lately, I came across stories that uplifted my heart.

The first one is about SOIL, a nonprofit organization led by a young Stanford grad, Sasha Kramer who  is helping solve some of the most pressing problems facing the people of Haiti, with one simple initiative: compostable toilets.

The second one features Dan Sudran, the founder of the Mission Science Workshop in San Francisco. Moved by his love of science and the will to make a difference, Dan developed a grassroot science education organization now serving over 250 city children every week. 

Each time, same expansion felt in the heart, and a great gladness that steadies me in my resolution to continue with my own work.

Uppers for the heart, I call them.

The heart, such a fragile organ . . . It does not take much for the tide to turn either way, up or down.

Down my heart goes whenever I let mind linger into stories that do me no good. 

Several times during the day, I catch myself thinking of a man whose repeated misdeeds continue to run havoc in a community. Although I have removed myself from the situation, there are still ripples to be felt from that person's actions. And each time, the danger of heart contracting in anger and fear. The mind has this malicious tendency of wanting to linger in filth. 

If not that man, another one also triggers me to go down a downward path despite all my good intentions. It does not take much. The mind grabs on to a few words, and off it goes. Once down, it takes a lot of mindfulness and will power to extract oneself from the pit. 

Up or down, which way do you want your heart to go? 


  1. :)

    Of course a better question would be: which way does your heart go most often? or, how to you make sure to stay uplifted?

  2. Honestly through a lot of hard work and at time pain in the last year, I can say the majority of time my heart goes UP these days.

    I find I am always reminding myself to be mindful and remember to be kind, when sometime due to my own ego I don't wont to. I am learning to reach out to other and expect nothing in turn and that allowes me to open my heart to them and myself.

    As always, love reading your blog. It takes me out of my box and my own mind. Thanks

  3. UP, A chance meeting with a young man in Burma, who went out of his way to show me around led me to change all plans, fly back to his town and buy his family of 7, a used motorcycle to get around. Seeing one more place alone seemed too selfish. It also got me to put away the camera, letting my heart lead me. I found out later that the money they had saved for one last year, was used on his appendix surgery.

  4. You wrote in your post:

    "The mind grabs on to a few words, and off it goes. Once down, it takes a lot of mindfulness and will power to extract oneself from the pit."

    More and more I have found that reading twitter feed yanks my mind all over the place. sending it into what is a time wasting, unmindfull monkey mess of thoughts.

    And more often the direction is downward.

    I've stopped paying attention to news feeds totally for the same reason.

    Now I'm really feeling a need to stay away from reading anything in my twitter feed.

    I experimented and found I was much more centered and grounded, calm, by staying away.

    So to your point Marguerite, it doesn't take many words (thoughts) to unsettle us.

  5. Debra, reading your comment, I realize that most often the down moments arise when awareness gets wrapped up into self-preoccupation. The minute I turn my attention towards others and a compassionate cause, the constriction goes away, and in its place, the heart opens and relaxes.

  6. Albert, thank you so much for your story. I love that you let your heart move you so often with strangers on your path. Much metta.

  7. Matt, I can see how getting absorbed into the Twitter stream could lead to some fragmentation of the mind. Twitter, like anything needs to be used with some parsimony. I find much of the content there rather mediocre, and at the same time there are enough of a few gems here and there and also quality folks dropping in, to make me stay with it. I find the folks who join me every day for #wannasit sitting meditations to be an incredible source of support for my practice.