Head, Heart, Belly – Listen to them All

Hello 2022.  I can’t yet authentically say, “Happy New Year”, but I’m also not giving up.  Rather than affixing a bumper sticker projection on our lives, we can utilize this season of darkness to reflect on what has been, how we were nourished and loved, and a clearer course as we move forward.

We can study our lives through so many lenses, and I want to encourage at least three frames for your reference.  We are said to have three minds:  a brain mind, a heart mind and a belly mind.  So much research now reveals the wisdom of the “gut brain” and the direct communication between intestinal activity, emotional, and mental health.  When reviewing the past, try to recall how you felt in your belly as you scan memories.

The brain mind is very skilled in the ways you might expect: calculating, spelling, taking in sensory cues.  We often live only in this narrow mind framework and wonder why we don’t feel fulfilled.  This lens can be helpful in bringing to mind details, chronological order and “facts”.  Recognize it as a prediction machine, often scouring memories for negative experiences.

The heart mind lives between the brain and belly minds.  The physical heart regulates the flow of live-giving blood through the body, sending this nourishment rapidly to active muscles or any expression of trauma.  We could say the energetic heart regulates compassion and love in the same way, listening for needs and desires, and responding.  Be sure to include this wise, intuitive lens as you recall the year past.

Yogic science names these areas;


as wheels (chakras), or energy centers.

They can support and sustain us as long as they are unobstructed.

We have seven chakras, but today we will consider three.


Our cultural tendency is to regard the brain mind as the queen of all things, forgetting the heart and belly.  Yesterday, in her Heart of Intention workshop, Michal Retter guided us to look back on 2021 with the eyes of all of these three chakras wide open.  In reflecting, we noticed what was hard, what gave us pride, what made us feel most alive, and more.  We noted what we were ready to leave behind and how it could feel to be out of survival mode.

After so much reflection, we named our intention or sankalpa to influence the future.  Heyam dukham anagatam, sutra II.16, means “future suffering is to be avoided.”.  Can we truly learn from the past and prevent future pain?

The pandemic atmosphere can keep us perpetually in an alarmed state, frozen in indecision, locked out of memories that could be helpful, trapped in fight or flight responses.

It will take courage, will and compassion to do this practice.  It could have a profound impact on the way you perceive 2022.

Where do we start this worthy challenge?  Mark off some time to pause, sit and reflect.


You might choose queries as you view your internal slideshow:
What was hard last year? What was surprisingly easy? What gave you a sense of pride? Were there unexpected delights?

Feel your belly, heart and brain, as you review the year.  Really notice the communications coming to you. Listening and feeling, not just thinking, answer these questions:

Are there things you can leave behind? What would you like to have more of as you move forward?

Let this take form like a crystal being formed by the earth:  you could give it shape, color, or texture.  This is your sankalpa, your intention.  You might write about it, draw, or paint it.  Maybe it’s a word you could transform into a mantra or a ditty.  Perhaps there is a mudra, or hand gesture that will remind you of your intention. Meditate on it. What can your sankalpa build?

Close your practice by bringing your palms together in front of your forehead, then heart, finishing by opening your palms on your belly.  Acknowledge these three minds and commit to including them all as you go on.