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something for my heart?

July 21, 2013

Years ago I went to a class on Qi Gong.

I don’t know much about Qi Gong. It’s sort of like Tai Chi, but seems to me there’s even more focus on the breath, some forms are more meditative, and the movements are most often done with just the upper body, while the feet stay planted.

I’ve learned Qi Gong (also called Chi Gong or Chi Kung.. I think) during a Tai Chi class I was in for several months. I also learned some movements from a helpful video called “Tai Chi for Seniors,” which has sold a ton of copies. I’m not a senior, but the movements are still quite worthwhile to do.. if I can get myself to do them regularly.

Besides learning some Qi Gong from my Tai Chi teacher, and from the DVD, I took a class on Qi Gong that was a community education course. There were supposed to be multiple lessons, but the teacher got sick, or was otherwise unavailable to continue teaching, and so there was just the one class session.

We hardly did any movement at all. One of things we did was stand in a circle. The teacher said we had formed a circuit.. basically an electric circuit, and that we should focus on receiving current from one person, and pass it on to the next.

Some people, by the end of the class, were obviously emotionally moved. I still felt very anxious and depressed and distracted and filled with messed up, rapid thoughts.. my usual mental state for so many years now.

I did feel a tiny bit of a current, I suppose.. just a tiny tiny bit, and did my best to pass it on, and I suppose I did, because it got around the circle. I wasn’t exactly impressed though, I was still a mess.

I talked with the teacher, very briefly. Told her a little bit about my problems (I’ve got anxiety, depression, OCD and attention deficit issues). I told the teacher I was studying Zen, thinking of meditating regularly, maybe joining a Zen book, but at the time was mostly reading about Zen.

She said something very interesting to me, that I still think about, even though at least five years have passed.

The teacher said Zen is very cerebral. The focus is on the mind. She said I have too much going on in my mind already. She said I need something for my heart. I need a spiritual practice that focuses more on my heart. She didn’t have much time to elaborate. She might have mentioned a few practices, but I’ve forgotten what else she said. There were other students waiting to talk to her after the class was over, and I think she was tired, and wanted to go home.  That’s why our conversation was brief.

I never got a definitive answer from her on what I should be doing for my heart.

I don’t know what to think about my heart, other than it being the organ that pumps blood.. and that when it stops I die.

My spiritual, emotional, metaphorical heart? The heart of my being?

Difficult to think about.  I don’t know if part of the conflicts within me are between heart and mind, or if it’s all mind. I don’t know.

I wasn’t thinking much at all about my heart, until I watched part of a documentary called “I Am.” It’s about a director of hit comedy movies who went through major struggles, then set out to talk to philosophers and others to find out 1. what is wrong with the world, and 2. what can we do about it?

In the middle of the doc., there’s a part about the heart. I don’t want to get into too much detail now, but there’s a segment where the filmmaker  goes to a lab that measures what the heart does emotionally.. and electrically.. something like a magnetic field.

One scientist/philosopher in this segment talked about how in many cultures, it is not the mind, but the heart, that is considered the center and essence of the person. So I started thinking about my heart.

In the past, I’ve mostly thought about my heart in relation to women.


There have been women who I’ve liked very much, and women who have liked me. There have never been any women I’ve liked very much who have also liked me, except to some extent, and those few women were either unavailable, or lived too far away.

Almost all the women I have felt so strongly about, and cared so much about have had boyfriends or husbands, or were not interested in me for whatever reason, or who turned out to be not very nice people, or lived a far distance from me, and who I did not see again.

My heart, it seems, has so often been very very very wrong.

I was in one serious relationship.. a romantic and somewhat sexual one,  a relationship with a single woman, that lasted over a year. It was a bad relationship, and I damaged myself a great deal by being in it, and fell apart even worse after I ended it.. but then.. lots of bad things happened at the same time.. and not just with her.. so yeah, I was devastated by life, not just the relationship and its end. But my heart got involved. With the wrong person. This was terrible thing.

When has my heart been right? It certainly wasn’t right about that relationship, or that woman, who turned out to be a rather bad person in many ways.

My heart was right to feel a certain way about a few married women.. they liked me too.. but.. they were married, and there was no future for us. I don’t want to be involved with married women. I don’t feel right about it.

I haven’t felt anything significant for anyone in almost two years, except for a few women from my past. I do feel a bit of a sort of romantic attachment to a woman I met recently, but I have talked with her twice, and there is obviously no chemistry there. It might not be my heart at all, just my confused head.

Besides women and romance and sex and all that, what other part of my life and being is my heart involved in?

Other matters of the heart.

I feel compassion for people, and compassion for the environment. I tutor refugees for free, even though I often don’t enjoy doing this. In fact, sometimes I really hate tutoring ESL, especially when I am dealing with difficult students, but I still do it.

I feel compassionate about animals and the environment. I feel this way, even though I eat animals, and throw away everything that I cannot recycle.

It is impossible for most of us to live in a completely ecologically kind way. We still do some damage.. pretty much all of us do.

I suppose I could become a vegetarian, to reduce suffering. But, I am far too distracted by my mental conditions, and have not been able to switch to a vegetarian diet.

Doing something to help is better than doing nothing though.

I plan on being a park attendant at a nature reserve located fairly close by. It’s a small marshland, with some trails that go around and through it. I am on disability, because of my mental health issues, but I can volunteer, and will volunteer to help in that park.

I will be cleaning up trash, keeping a log (writing down things about park usage), maybe doing a bird count for the local Audubon group, even though that is not an official part of my duties. I’ll look after the park. I want to do that. I feel compassion for nature. This is a heart thing.

But what else can I do for my heart?


I can, as much as I can, avoid anything having to do with spirituality.

The majority of blog posts I have written these past four years or so have been about my miserable and maddening struggle to find a spiritual practice and some beliefs. I haven’t found any that help that are specifically spiritual.

Christianity hasn’t worked. Buddhism hasn’t worked. Both have messed up my head.. especially Christianity. I was a Christian for over 20 years. I didn’t relate to paganism either. You can read all about this if you want in many other posts I’ve written.


I wanted to play guitar. That was a heart thing.. especially when, some years back, my desire changed from wanting to play heavy electric guitar in a rock band, to playing beautiful, mellow music on a classical guitar.

I tried for many many years.. went crazy with that too. It didn’t work.

What can I do for my heart?

I can continue to volunteer as a tutor, even though I don’t feel well about it. At least I am doing something kind. Life isn’t just about feeling.

I can continue to volunteer at the library where I tutor. I re-shelve books there, and take books off shelves for library holds.

I can look after the nature reserve.

What else?

I can sing. I feel that is important.

I haven’t practiced singing because I don’t live alone, and feel very bad about bothering my older relatives.. self-conscious, and not wanting to be a bother.

I think I should not let this stop me though.

It is very very difficult for me to do good things for myself.

What can I do for my heart besides these things? I don’t know. I don’t  know what the teacher was referring to.. so some of what I can do for my heart.. is still a mystery.

I should go with what I got, continue with the qi gong that I know how to do, and start singing regularly. That’s something.

What else?

I don’t know.

Maybe that’s enough for now.

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