Almost two years ago I found myself unexpectedly in a hospital bed awaiting a common but serious medical procedure to unblock an artery. I had just returned from a trip to visit my daughter in the US, and could count a few mostly work-related flights in the five months prior to that, including a trip to a very remote part of northern India where for a month my days had begun with a mile-long walk up a very steep path for breakfast at 6 am. Over time I’d found myself getting more and more breathless, and put it down to lack of fitness but, back in Ireland, I decided to consult my GP who immediately referred me to the emergency chest pain unit. Within two hours I was sitting in front of a young hospital registrar, still expecting to be told to get out and exercise more. However what he said took what was left of my breath away: I had an eighty-percent blockage that was preventing oxygen (lifeblood) from flowing into my heart. Fortunately, he said, my heart was not damaged and could be fixed.
I meditate regularly, read and teach on matters of the heart, and have spent many years sitting with people as they explore mind-heart matters, struggling with their stuck places: creating the space for them to paint away the barriers to feelings with watery paint on paper, to help create a movement, a shift, a flow that would allow emotion to be felt. In the meantime, my own heart had been quietly shutting down. Continue reading