‘Follow your heart’, they say.
There’s a reason this is such a popular phrase. Whenever it was first uttered (I have yet to discover the exact origin; please let me know if you ever discover it!), I doubt if the originator knew just how powerful it was.
My personal motto for years has been exactly this old adage: ‘Follow your heart’.
It’s my belief that if we can be still and heart-focused, and remain in gratitude for what we already have, that the whispers of our heart direct our life’s path to ‘unfold as it ought,’ as my grandfather likes to say.
As fate would have it, I am writing this article for you on the heels of taking my Teacher’s Trainer Certification with the Institute of HeartMath. I’ll happily explain why this strikes me as serendipitous, why I first became addicted to finding heart-shaped rocks along my life’s journey, and how I came to trust and follow these ‘heart whisperings.’
I found my first heart-shaped rock in 2011 while exploring a pebble beach at Michael’s Harbor, Newfoundland. I was born in Newfoundland, so it was fitting that this was where I would find my first heart rock.
From that point on, I took finding heart-shaped rocks as a sign to confirm that I was ‘following the bread crumbs back home’ to my purpose in life, to my heart, and to my art.
It’s easy to dismiss coincidences as being random events that might be related, but probably aren’t. Occasionally though, things unfold with such staggering synchronicity that the universe/God is clearly sending a message that our heart sets out to guide us toward.
I have become very familiar with how these miraculous synchronicities unfold in my own life
While researching the book I co-authored with my grandfather, The Heart’s Obsession – An Intimate Biography of Newfoundland Songstress Georgina Stirling (1867-1935), one of these incredible confirmations revealed itself.
One day, when I was in Georgina’s hometown of Twillingate, I paused to ask myself, “Am I really meant to write this definitive biography of Newfoundland’s renowned nineteenth-century opera singer? Who am I to do such a thing?” As a fellow Newfoundlander and opera singer, I was surely feeling the weight of this task.
Accompanied by my mother and my two children, I drove down the narrow dirt road that led to Georgina’s gravesite, which overlooked the ocean. We parked off to the side and approached the double white gates. As I put both of my hands on the gates to draw them open, I paused and looked down. There on the ground where the gate doors met, was a perfectly heart-shaped rock that fit in the palm of my hand. We all laughed, shaking our heads in disbelief.
“Only you, Tonia, would this happen for!” my mom exclaimed.
She was spot-on. This sign was surely meant for me. From that point on, a cascading series of events came together to link me with sharing the story of this kindred opera songstress.
What I’ve come to learn, on a much larger scale, is just how possible it is for everyone to follow their heart’s true path and experience. In a world that’s full of overstimulation and instant gratification, we become easily distracted by what we think we want or need; we get trapped in a continuous loop of questioning ourselves and overthinking every decision.
We completely ignore the wisdom, peace and certainty that is already within us.
We’ve all heard Theadore Roosevelt’s phrase, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. When we take the time to listen inwardly, instead of always looking outward, we know what’s right for us.
On my journey as a musician and author, I now know the feeling of when I’m on my right path, because any previous comparison or self-inflicted timelines fall away. All I’m left with then is the pure enjoyment and curiosity of the journey itself, allowing me to step into what is meant for me.
During my certification process with the Institute of HeartMath, I became truly present to the miraculous power of the human heart from the point of view of science-based research. It is now known, for example, that our heart sends more messages to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. In fact, based on studies that HeartMath and other institutions have conducted, it’s been scientifically proven that our heart senses (and starts to react) seconds ahead of time to what is coming next; it then informs the brain, which in turn informs the body how to react. By this we are always reminded — heart first!
Our hearts have their own nerve ganglia, referred to as the ‘heart brain’. These ganglia produce an electromagnetic field that radiates at least three to five feet from our bodies. This is why we can so easily pick up on what kind of energy-field people bring into a room or a situation — whether it’s the energy of love, compassion and gratitude, or the energy of anger, tension, even misery.
It all starts with our hearts!
Our hearts pulse out a rhythmic pattern that reflects our emotions. If we can be still and heart-centered, we can learn to balance our emotions, access the intelligence of our brains more efficiently, increase our personal ability to rebound and pivot, live in better alignment with our true self, elevate our experiences, and have a positive influence on those around us… WOW! And as one of my favorite sayings goes, ‘That’s just the tip of the iceberg!’
If this isn’t enough impetus for us to get more in tune with the heart’s wisdom, I don’t know what is. I’ve implemented many of HeartMath’s techniques in my own life, and taught them to artists I coach, to strengthen their heart-connection so they can experience its many benefits.
I’d love to hear about your personal experiences with following your heart. And if you’d like to learn to bring more of your personal heart’s power to the surface in your own life, I’d be delighted to be part of your journey.
I’ll leave you with a famous quote by Steve Jobs, from his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.