Heart changes everything. It changes how you show up. It releases inner pressure and the weight you carry, and it changes your performance.

“In the sports world we sometimes hear the notion of keeping your emotions in check. In meditative fitness, we would rather harness and channel emotional energy, using all of it, transforming detracting emotion into enlightening, performance-enhancing emotion. Opening your heart can help you to relax in tight moments and overcome nerves. We get nervous when something big is about to happen. Nerves mean it matters, that it is important to you. Channel the nerves through your heart and allow them to help you.

Connecting with your heart is about being honest with yourself.
How hard do you push yourself in your workouts?
How do you feel inside as you go through your workouts?
Motivated or lazy, energized or drained, embracing or resisting?
What’s your attitude like?
How do you engage the challenges you face?
How much fun do you have?
How do you feel at the end of your workouts?
How do you want to feel?”the Heart chapter

If you ever find yourself negative and complaining, going through the motions, overthinking or overanalyzing, being lazy or absent-minded, or if you dread the workout, treat it like a chore, or shy away from the physical exertion and sensations in your body, then it might be time to awaken your heart.

When you put your heart into it, you engage with passion and presence. You lean in to the challenge and surrender rather than resist. You might even allow everything you’ve ever been through, everything you are going through, everything you have ever felt, to fuel you through your workout.

“Everything you have ever felt can be found in your heart, and you can also feel things you’ve never felt before.”the Heart chapter

How can you put your heart into it? Start from where you are. As you arrive for your workout, check in with yourself. Ask yourself what you’re feeling, what’s going on inside. Perhaps there is an underlying feeling that’s been sticking with you. What do you bring with you for that day’s workout? Is there anything weighing on you? Any relationships in turmoil? Anything stressing you?

What we want to do is acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling in any moment. From there, you know what you need to do, what you need to release or let go of. From there, you set your intention for the workout. You ask for what your heart needs. You give meaning to the physical exertion and your effort. You know what it represents.

Perhaps the workout will serve as a release. Perhaps it will clear your energy and give you space for clarity. Physical exertion is known for clearing mental blocks, and it’s also known for naturally uplifting your mood. Together with your meditative intention, you take this to another level and open up the world of possibilities. Perhaps with your heart open you will connect with more love for yourself. You might experience deeper joy or other enlightening emotions washing over you.

Physically, you can gently tap on your sternum to help open and awaken the energy of your heart. Take a deep breath and move your attention and awareness from the front of your forehead down to the center of your chest. Imagine the area opening.

Let the workout help you to open your heart. Create the challenge. Heart is found in continuing despite adversity and in the determination to finish. It takes heart to push yourself and to get back up after falling. Heart is one of the greatest performance enhancers. With it, we access a higher engagement and consciousness. Heart is about being in the moment, being in the flow, “feeling it.” There’s no time to think in the midst of athletic performance. Sure, you can think before or after you go into action, and you can learn valuable lessons from that processing, but in the moment you need to be able to act instantly, to access your intuitive athleticism, to get in the zone. Putting your heart into it, opening, engaging, and operating from your heart, does this for you.

Heart is something so simple, something we all have, yet it is still often misunderstood. We deny our feelings. Sometimes, we don’t want to admit them, or we don’t want to feel what we feel. We close off. We go to anger instead of the vulnerable truth, or we suffer from depression and anxiety by not releasing the weight of what’s going on deeper within. We retreat to our heads with obsessive thinking or overanalyzing. We judge what we’re feeling as good or bad rather than simply the truth of how we feel. Our feelings aren’t always rational. They don’t always make sense at a surface level. When we go deeper into them, however, when we sit with them and learn from them, we uncover many light bulbs and inner victories.

Here’s to all of your inner victories.

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