Tell Your Heart To Start Beating

This post was originally published on my former anonymous blog on April 9, 2012. I’m having a tough time this week, sliding on some slippery ice and I don’t want to write anything new until I’ve safely landed. I like to read through old journals and posts when I’m feeling off because they help me get perspective. This post speaks to me right now.

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my heart

I sometimes have trouble falling asleep after a hectic day with my two kiddos. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed, feeling exhausted but being unable to drift off to sleep. I’ve tried various relaxation techniques and finally stumbled upon something that works. As I lay in bed, I put my hands over my heart and concentrate on feeling my heart beat. The first time I did it, I was taken aback. I didn’t just feel my heart beating; I felt it pumping. As I thought about what my heart was doing, I was blown away by the power of it and by how little control I had over this vital function of my body. Sometimes, when I try to feel my heart, I can’t feel the beat at all. The act of trying to feel it still lulls me to sleep but I find myself wondering, what does it mean that I can’t feel my heart beating? I’m breathing, so I must be alive. Right?

I went to church on Sunday with my parents for the first time since becoming a Christian. I was excited but a little apprehensive because I haven’t been to church in a very long time. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The pastor’s sermon was about dreaming impossible dreams and things that threaten to kill our dreams. He told a story about a woman having open heart surgery, her blood being oxygenated by a machine, her heart temporarily stopped. Her medical team completes the procedure and performs the final step of restarting her heart. Her surgeon places the paddles against her heart and jolts it. Nothing happens. He does it again. Still, no heartbeat. He goes to the head of the operating table, leans down and whispers into her ear, “Tell your heart to start beating.” When he tries the paddles again, her heart begins to beat.

When the pastor said the words, “Tell your heart to start beating,” I was overcome with emotion. I thought about what it means to be truly alive. It’s so much more than breathing, dragging myself out of bed, eating to survive. How long has it been since I enjoyed doing something without thinking about what I’m going to do next? When was the last time I smelled a flower without worrying about an allergy attack or lingered in the shower until the hot water ran out? I can go through an entire day with my kids without ever really seeing them. There’s always something else to do or think about. Have I ever shut my mind off long enough to feel the presence and power of God coursing through my body? What am I waiting for?

As I stood among that holy gathering, tears streaming down my face, held in my parents’ embrace, I told my heart to start beating. I didn’t ask it. I didn’t wait patiently for it to do it in its own time. I didn’t pray for something to make it happen.

I told my heart to start beating.

24 Comments on “Tell Your Heart To Start Beating

  1. Is the picture from the old blog too? This is vaguely familiar. It may even be one of the first (if not the first) post I ever read of yours. I love that you put it up. Even though it is from the past, it is a wonderful reminder of lessons learned and lessons we get to relearn—on yet a deeper level. Blessings

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    • The picture is from the old blog. There isn’t much from the old blog that I’d want to repost but this experience was one I don’t want to forget!

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  2. I had a similar experience to this. After a particularly difficult experience in my life, I was laying in savasana after an intense Bikram session. The same sentiment ran through my mind: “Heart, please keep beating.”

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  3. Beautiful post, Karen. I love the way your words speak to me.
    I hope that everything is ok with you. I’m a great listener if you need one.
    Love to you,
    ~Jami

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  4. “just a mess of feelings and no words right now”….sending love. I get that.
    I do the same thing. a lot. Lie in the dark and feel my heart beat. When I am feeling expansive I send out a metta meditation with the beats, for me, for loved ones, for acquaintances, for those I dislike or fear….it helps.
    Speak when you are ready.

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    • Oh…and i can’t believe I never put the two of you together….A Life Less Scripted. Karen. Of course.
      *slaps forehead with a big DUH!*

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      • You couldn’t have known. I stopped the old site and started the new one without connecting the dots. I wasn’t sure until recently that I still wanted to blog about sobriety. I love the metta meditation idea. All I can feel is my heart right now.

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        • ..a nd you got a haircut, so you look different, but I was reading that, it was even on my blogroll, I just didn’t connect

          If all you can feel is your heart, use it. hand on heart..send it out into the world

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  5. Such a beautiful post. Sorry to hear you’re struggling and hope you find your footing again soon.

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  6. Needed to read this so badly today. Thank you for sharing it. I, too, am having a hard time lately – I have a permanent lump in my throat for all that is sad. I know its depression. Again, thank you. I’m ready for my heart to start beating again soon!

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    • It happens in its own time, doesn’t it? I’m just a mess of feelings and no words right now. I’m pulling for you, sweet Jana.

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  7. I echo what themiraclesaroundthecorner said. I am rushing out to catch a flight and did a quick email check. I HAD to stop and read your post. And I am glad that I did. This is beautiful and just what I needed. Know that I (and I am sure, many others!) are sitting with you in your space until you are ready to get up and move to a different one.

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  8. This is a beautiful post, and, since I did not know you ever had an anonymous blog, I am grateful that you chose to re-post it here! I am sending the same light and love you sent me earlier in the week right back to you, and I look forward to reading about when you are over this “hump” of life!

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