A Heart-Centered Practice

According to the Eastern chakra system, when a person’s heart chakra (seat of love) is closed, it can’t hear, feel, or discern emotions.  As stated in ancient Eastern text, modern man/woman is ambivalent and confused due to a lack of knowledge.  Living without knowledge in a couple is like being hijacked by fear, dispensing energy towards the primitive instinct of self-preservation.  When this closure occurs, the body completely denies access to the frontal cortex, priming a survival pattern—all decisions made, or emotions expressed are rooted in fear and survival instinct. Couples feel stuck, disconnected, and utterly unhappy because the relational behaviors executed appear to be self-centered, operating from a closed, dried-up reservoir. The more they paddle upstream with an abundance of head knowledge, the more they endeavor on a problematic, ego-centered, self-defeating path.  When couples transcend from head to heart, it immediately metabolizes a harmonious heart-centered flow.   A couples’ inherent true nature assimilates their relationship into their mind, body, and soul, thus training the mind to think pragmatically to seek peace and happiness within. Understanding this concept helps couples experience the deeply interconnected nature of their lives within and between each other, enabling them to integrate interpersonally.

Mindful awareness further integrates the brain, allowing for easy access due to the frequent descents from the head to heart. The process of asking for an appointment before engaging is a compassionate, mindful approach for assessing readiness to touch the wounded parts of our partners. To practice mindfulness as a couple and to channel the flow from the heart is to send and receive appreciation as a daily ritual in the Imago process. This allows couples to be flexible rather than rigid; they become open, accepting, and loving towards their partners. When couples’ mindful behaviors are paired with less resistance and more acceptance, harmonious flow and mindfulness become synonymous. As an Imago therapist, I help couples enter into a more profound connection with themselves through their heart and guide them to listen with their hearts—not their ears—when dispensing empathy and acceptance.  Being present in the here and now helps me to enter the couple’s world with keen awareness and curiosity. I ask myself: what do this couple’s heart and body need the most from a therapy session?

An initiation into the counseling practice may include silence, staring into the partner’s eyes, or holding hands, eliciting mindfulness before any words uttered.  A heart-centered approach may invite the couple to cross a bridge to cultivate empathy for their rigid or chaotic partner. At times, this process requires one heart-evolved, flexible partner to not only cross the bridge but to build the bridge to lift the shame of silence that has hermetically sealed in their relationship. The partner’s rigidity then is replaced with a refreshing, freeing, and accommodating personality, and chaos exchanged for grounded, compassionate collaboration. Heart-centered integration appears kind and compassionate and involves a sacred way of loving from the heart while exhibiting positive, caring behaviors. Through the validation process, one partner affirms the other partner’s feelings or thoughts. He lets her know that he is aware of her existence. She matters and is appreciated in their relationship. This process helps facilitate the emergence of each partner’s sacredness. The therapist becomes a container for the subjective felt experience in the counseling room.