Keeping the Heartlight Vigil as we move through the cycle of Darkness:
By Chandra Michelle Tracy, MA, RYT
Out of the Darkness comes the Light. Light returns to Darkness. In this cycle of life, of existence, there cannot be one without the other; furthermore, light shines more vibrantly against the landscape of Dark. This time, around the Winter Solstice, is the time of Dreaming, of Turning Inward, of facing our doubts, fears and shadows, so that we can become ready for the day the light returns and action replaces dreamtime. It is the liminal space-time for tuning into the collective unconscious where all hope is born. And to do this work, to walk this line between darkness and light, it is of utmost importance to find ways of cultivating our inner light, our heart flame, our Faith and Trust in the unknown and what is to come.
On the eve of Winter Solstice, when we are at our darkest moment, we must remember that this is it, soon the Light will return in all of its glory, sparking new life, renewal, rebirth. And we must be ready to receive.
What brings meaning to your heart at this time of the year? As chaos swirls around us, distracting us with busyness, what is our truest heart asking for? What layers of dust have collected that must be acknowledged and gently wiped clean? This is the time to examine the Archetypal cycles of death/doubt, rebirth/faith. In the darkest moments, to remember that the light will again return. It is the time to dive deeply into the heart realm, bathing it in light and trust.
It is said that we have at least two very distinguished “hearts”. One is the psychological heart, that helps us in relating to others, shows us our likes and dislikes, and holds memories that inform our behaviors in the world. This heart has made survival its highest purpose, and to survive, it created defensive behaviors to protect against pain, loss, and tragedy. These defenses became habitual patterns in our ways of relating to others to avoid further hurt. These behaviors become our shadows, holding shame, doubt and other veils that keep us from our truth and authentic nature. These shields that we have built are precious tools that have gotten us this far, protecting us like a mother tiger her cub. But they also limit the range of full emotion, full experience of life, the expression of who we are meant to be. When we carefully look at the armor we have created, without judgment, the armor will fall away naturally, revealing our vulnerability. What armor is weighing you down in this moment? What patterns are ready to be transformed? Looking takes courage and honesty, but also creates resilience. A favorite author of mine, Brant Coltright, says “It is our psychological material that covers up our soul’s deeper light,” (2007). Once we begin to look at these psychological elements, our spiritual life will be transformed into a deeper awareness of our own Divine Spark.
The other is referred to as our True Soul, or Authentic Self. This is the connection to our Natural Intelligence, our inner Guides, Intuition, to the Divine, to the detached understanding of Beauty, Joy, and true contentment. In this part of the journey, we refine and purify our consciousness to allow the soul’s light to shine forth. When we are called to traverse the Spiritual path, everything else seems to fade away. We hear our calling clearly, find ourselves living more authentically and finding work and relations that match our soul’s desires. However, even those living a spiritual life often find pitfalls along the journey. This is where facing our psychological shadows and wounds is so important to balance our walk along the spiritual path. Without the psychology, the spiritual path has no foundation, and without the spiritual , the psychology is meaningless. Together they create a harmonious whole.
Here is where the Spiritual Heart, Hridaya, comes in. Hridaya is described by David Frawley as the “Seat of Atman”. It is seen as a flame, in the center of which is the lightening power of consciousness. It is beyond our human heart, and even the heart chakra or center. It is that which is truly unchangeable, ever present and always constant. It is up to us to tap into this Spiritual Heart, to fan the flame of this heart and keep the coals burning. Here is a meditation and mantra for keeping that heart alive and well:
Sit quietly, either in front of a lit fire or candle. Breathing Sama Vritti, equal inhalations and exhalations. Let the mind be calm, slow, steady. Now, visualize the flame in the center of the heart. Inhale into the flame. With each breath see the flame growing stronger, lighter, illuminating the darkness that is all around. Now spread the flame, with your breath, into other parts of your body- down the torso, into the legs and arms, the feet and hands, spread the flame along the spine and into the neck and head. Watch the flame fill up your Being, creating warmth, love, compassion and healing. This is the flame of your Innermost Self, your own Guide, your own Healer. Send this heartflame to your family, your community, the world.
When you feel alive in this light, speak this mantra. This is the Paramjyoti Mantra for the heart, for the Sun, to Call forth the Light. When you are ready to speak it, imagine an 8 petaled Lotus in the flame of the heart- this mantra has the form of this 8 petaled lotus, so visualize it and it will come more fully into your heart.
OM HRIM HAMSAH
SO HAM SWAHA
This mantra liberates the Hamsa, or the bird of the soul, connecting us with Divine prana in the heart.
You can choose how you want to work with the mantra, aloud or internally, using japa (108 times using a mala) or as many times as feels right to you. This is a gift to you, for calling forth the light of your own heart as well as giving thanks to the Sun which is about to return. Feel free to share this mantra with your students and in groups for opening to the Light of the Heart.
Now is the time for self love, self acceptance, healing all of the darkness within as we prepare to welcome the Light back to the world. May you have a beautiful Solstice, remembering that where there is Dark, there is capacity for the most Brilliant of Light. Blessed Be!