Sitting in meditation, a thought arose about how I ended up living back in my hometown in the North West of England, a place I'd been eager to get away from for most of my life. It was too small. Too boring. Too close to my family. Too...all the annoying things.
And when I sold my flat in London and came back here for what was supposed to be just a couple of weeks, the last thing I wanted was to stay. I wanted travel. I wanted adventure. I wanted sunshine. I wanted a 'bigger, more important life' than Lancaster could offer me.
So when I arrived at my parents' house to stay for just a couple of weeks, all that was on my mind was those things I wanted. I thought and thought about where I wanted to go. Where in the world would I love to be? Where in the world would give me all the things I wanted?
But the more I tried to figure out the right destination, the more I came up empty handed. Whilst my head hadn't caught up yet (or didn't want to catch up), my heart already knew both what I needed and what I really wanted.
Over the course of the summer, against my will, my heart opened more and more to this place. It was as if life had made it its mission to make sure I saw, without a shadow of a doubt, how wonderful this little part of the UK was.
And because life was doing such a good job at making it so obvious - with its nicer than usual summer, its to-die-for sunsets, the abundance of friendly people, the forest walks, the new and beautiful friends who appeared from nowhere, being closer to my little twin nieces - I eventually couldn't help but wake up to the fact that I actually liked being here. And that's when my head caught up with my heart and I had to admit that this is where I was going to stay, for now.
It's been over a year since I arrived back and the phrase 'having your best interests at heart' has taken on a whole new flavour. Looking back over the course of this past year, it seems obvious that that's exactly what was happening. My heart had my best interests at heart. Or, my best interests were in my heart. So many of the things I was looking for (and many of the things I didn't even realise I was looking for) have shown up in this little corner of England.
So what I really wanted to share with you here is this:
Following your heart doesn't always mean getting what you want.
We live in a society that's built almost entirely on external wanting and more often than not, our notions of success and what it means to live a good and happy life come from either people or messages 'out there'. We get confused, thinking that those things are actually what we want and we set off in a drive to get those things, live that sort of life or be that sort of person.
But many of us find that even when we get there, we haven't found the happiness or peace we thought would come with it. And that's because the 'wanting' was at odds with what our hearts knew was in our best interests.
So 'you' might think you really, really want something, but your heart knows the deeper truth of what you want beyond those external things. Your heart knows the lessons you need to learn, the transformations you need to undergo and what will bring you the deeper joy, peace and love you're ultimately looking for (even if you don't know it).
As an aside, in place of the word heart, you could also say The Unviverse, God, The Divine, Universal Intelligence, Source Energy, The Intelligence Behind Life, your Inner Wisdom, your Higher Self, your Inner Being - really whatever rings true for you. Ultimately, it's the connection to the 'something bigger' that's running this whole show.
So the work is both about taking the time to listen to the wisdom of your heart and the courage to move in the direction its calling, even when (or perhaps especially when) its call is in a very different direction to what you thought you wanted.
If you're not in the habit of taking time to tune into your heart's wisdom, this might seem weird or unnatural. And of course, it takes a degree of trust to allow yourself to move in a direction that is often in opposition to what your head is saying. But connecting to your heart and listening to what it has to say is a practice like any other. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
So perhaps today you'll join me in sitting quietly for just five minutes and creating the space to see what wisdom awaits in the depths of your heart? It might not give you answers you like, but it will always give you what you need and what you want at a much, much deeper level.
Love and courage,