Hawthorne berries(1) are brightening up my back yard at a time when many other plants have faded away. The tiny apple like berries all all about heart healing and so have provided inspiration for this week’s mindfulness focus…heart centered awareness.
Western herbalists have used Hawthorne as a heart tonic for centuries. The berries support heart functioning and can be used as tea, tinctures, and even made into jam. They were a part of the U.S. Pharmacopeia until the 1930s. (1)
Hawthorne is recommended for anxiety as well as physical heart health and so it works with the physical and emotional attributes of the heart. For many decades, our culture tried to separate the physical from the emotional but we now know they are all part of one holistic organism. We also know that the heart has its own nervous system and its own brain, providing insight and information that our brains (in our heads) are often unaware of. The heart is much more than a blood pump. When we tune into our hearts, our intelligence and intuition are deepened.(3)
So this week’s focus, in honor of the brilliant berries in my yard, is tuning into our hearts. One of the easiest ways to practice heart centered focus is to imagine or feel the breath coming in and out of our hearts. We can do this as part of a formal meditation practice, but it is easy and helpful to practice throughout the day as we interact with others. As we try this out, we can pay attention to how our awareness shifts. It may be subtle at first, so being intentional with the practice and writing down our observations can help us focus.
We can also use the practice with those concerns that get stuck in our brains… the things we keep reviewing, evaluating, and worrying about. We can consciously move them down to our heart, breathe through them and notice how that shifts the energy. Again, this can be a subtle shift at first, but the more we practice, the easier it becomes.
For more information on my weekly mindfulness focus click here.
(1) Crataegus laevigata is the botanical name.