Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Living In The Freshest Chamber Of The Heart

--by Mark Nepo (Feb 19, 2018)

Our ability to find something to love, and to love again for the first time depends greatly on how we resolve and integrate where we've been before. A great model for us exists in the chambered nautilus, an exquisite shell creature that lives along the ocean floor. The nautilus is a deep-sea form of life that inches like a soft man in a hard shell finding his prayers along the bottom. Over time it builds a spiral shell, but always lives in the newest chamber.

The other chambers, they say, contain a gas or liquid that helps the nautilus control its buoyancy. Even here, a mute lesson in how to use the past: live in the most recent chamber and use the others to stay afloat.

Can we, in this way, build strong chambers for our traumas: not living there, but breaking our past down till it is fluid enough to lose most of its weight? Can we internalize where we've been enough to know that we are no longer living there? When we can, life will seem lighter.

It is not by accident that the nautilus turns its slow digestion of the bottom into a body that can float. It tells us that only time can put the past in perspective, and only when the past is behind us, and not before us, can we open enough and empty enough to truly feel what is about to happen. Only by living in the freshest chamber of the heart can we love again and again for the first time.

From the 'Book of Awakening'.

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Previous Reflections:

On Feb 16, 2018 Rajesh wrote:

This is a beautiful perspective and the nautilus is a very appropriate metaphor. I resonate with the author's observation that our ability to be open to the present and future depends on how well we resolve and integrate our past. Indeed very true.

On Feb 16, 2018 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 How to live in the present fully is a challenge for almost all of us.  We all have past, the old heart chamber, filled with aches and pains and suffering. In my opinion no human being can escape  from suffering. Our challenge is how to live fully in the freshest chamber of our heart, not to be broken by the past suffering and live fully in the present.
In order to live in the freshest chamber of our heart, we need to let go of the past by resolving it, letting it go and learning from it.We use these past learnings as the other chambers of the heart to stay afloat and love again like a fresh start.We do not deny the past but we say good bye to it to say hello to the present. We nned to feel in order to heal.

I have gone through heart braking and heart aching experiences while going through the journey of my life. I lost my dear wife who was with me for  some sixty plus years. When she passed away six years ago, I had aches and pains in my heart.  I felt life empty  and hollow.I found it  very difficult to bear this big loss. I let my pain come mindfully and let it go without denying it, ignoring it or getting stuck with it.Going through my pain mindfully gave me strength for living more fully in the present. Mark Nepo's last statement deeply resonates with me:" Only by living in the freshest chamber of the heart can we love again and again for the first time." What a blessing! Namaste.

On Feb 17, 2018 david doane wrote:

 We each have many 'chambers' filled with experiences from over the years.  Sometimes I live in the freshest chamber and learn from the experience of past chambers, which helps me stay afloat.  Sometimes I hold onto the unhappy experiences of old chambers in a way that sinks me, such as when I become negative and self-torturing.  In any case, all the chambers are me -- what I've done and experienced stays part of me -- there is no delete button.  Time alone doesn't put anything in perspective -- my perspective changes with what I do and what happens in time regarding past experiences.  I can grow from past experience and use what I've gained as I live in the freshest chamber,and that may make the past feel lighter and help me live and love wiser and fuller.  Nothing helps me to love again for the first time -- I can love again and love better, but there is only one first time.

On Feb 20, 2018 Debra Roberts wrote:

 Incredibly timely and beautiful offering, thank you so much.

On Feb 20, 2018 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 Wow. Powerful. Living in the freshest chamber of the heart means living in the present not the past. <3 Yes! Last night I participated as a "Giver" in a Tantra Puja ritual with 30 people. We rotated from partner to partner giving the gift of being fully present as we symbolically and ritually shared opening up the heart. One of my favorite rituals was pouring water from a vessel into a small conch shell, then placing a drop of two on the pointer finger and thumb and with the finger, gently tracing a tear from the outside of the eye down the cheek to chin. This tear represented for the Receiver all the tears they either could not or were not allowed to shed. It was deeply moving. We then placed a satin piece of cloth over our fingers and with one finger gently wiped the tears away. As I sat there in the Giver role, I allowed my heart to be fully open to any hurt of the Receiver, to silently say, "you are enough. It is allowed to cry. You are allowed to feel. Open your heart." It felt so nurturing to nurture and be there fully. I was able to recognize my own tears sometimes not allowed to be shed, and to be fully present too. Deeply powerful experience. The challenge for me was not being able to hug the person. <3

I do my best to stay in the freshest chamber, knowing each encounter is different and new and that although the past may inform me, it does not define me. <3 What helps me is reminding myself that all of live is a story, a narrative we each create And so I can choose, daily to live in the present chamber of the heart rather than dwell in the past. The new story can be created each day <3 

On Feb 20, 2018 EMM wrote:

 Such a beautiful and important reminder to acknowledge and honor that there is a universal, cosmic, "God Force" which holds the Intention to guide each living creature towards its unique wholeness. Yet, on its own timing. I love this metaphor in relationship with the process of Forgiveness as well, as I've found again and again that forgiveness plays a vital role in how I move forward in my life; the quality of my decision making is directly is shaped by my capacity to recognize, align with, and trust the natural, evolutionary forces that intrinsically know where and when growth is needed and how it will unfold.

On Feb 21, 2018 Amy wrote:

 "Thank you for coming up this way for my procedure.  My heart is feeling really groovy.  I feel like I have 100,000 more miles in me. Regards,  Steve "
This week's reading  made me immediately think of my little brother Steve!  Earlier this month my sister Vicki and I picked up my brother at his home in Escanaba, MI and took him to Marquette for a cardiac procedure to correct his Supravantricular Tachycardia.  Having had this from birth, he was always mindful of his heart intermittently and randomly beating out of his chest.  For a life time, he he did nothing about it.  Fear of doctors, hospitals, needles, medication (in addition to a multitude of other irrational fears) kept my brother from any form of preventative health care.  Well, to make a long story short, my dad almost died this past summer.  (I, too, had to get him to the hospital to correct his "electrical" cardiac problem).  Dad, today, (at 83) is brand new!  Steve, upon seeing Dad go from "death to life" with one (God monitored) procedure, mustered up courage and hope enough to seek help!  Steve is FINALLY living in the freshest chamber of his heart !  
PS.  Mom and Dad just stopped by to visit a bit.  Among things shared, they had to tell me that for the past two Sundays (since the "miracle") Steve went to church!  He is running again (even in the cold and icy pavement!).  Thanks be to God!  Amen

On Feb 23, 2018 N MOHAN wrote:

 Time is a big stepping stone , based on which each step of our ladder of life is built. We move ahead and sometimes look back to see our progress, especially spiritual. I opine it’s impossible is to forget the past but like the little creature we need to stay on top to fully embrace life as it unfolds.

On Feb 23, 2018 Amy wrote:

 AMEN!  Very much appreciate this thought!  Amen!

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