What the Heart Reveals in a Beat

“I feel your anger in your pulse.”

Yet again my acupuncture physician revealed my heart to me. Immediately, she ignored my statement of “I’m okay” and began listening to my pulse.  She always seems to know when to dismiss my words for what my heart has to say.

It is not that I am being deliberately dishonest. My mind says I am fine but as Dr. Gold keeps reminding me, the pulse of my body–my heart—reveals the truth, no matter what that may feel like.

This time Dr. Gold showed me how to feel the anger in my pulse. I was stunned at feeling this bubble, this thickened middle of a single beat. I remember my mind flashing the word “sadness” but I focused only on the beat of my heart.

Currently, my life is one of movement, so much stirring and shifting physically and emotionally. It is exciting, this palpable energy I am discovering through traditional Chinese medicine, this literal listening to the beat of my heart.

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I feel as if I am sitting with a trusted friend for I am. It is a friend that allows my mind to reflect on but not to linger in what has passed. It is a lifeline for revisiting anger.

This broadening of the beat of my heart takes me first to the movie, Selma, and then to 1965 as I remember it. That August I would change labels—no longer just a child but now a teenager as well.

The Beatles had already arrived. The Civil Rights Act had passed. Lyndon Johnson had been elected president by the largest landslide in history. Martin Luther King recently received the Nobel Peace prize.

But what the movie Selma awakened in me was the feeling of that time.  Even in the sparsely populated, high-plains desert of Wyoming, it was obvious momentous change was on the horizon.

For all Americans this energy would explode into their living rooms mostly on black and white television screens for it was an anger of black and white.

The heartbeat of the Civil Rights movement was palpable after just one moment of watching televised events in Selma and the subsequent protests. It was energy, it was hope, and ultimately, it became a movement for all faiths and for all races as the five-day March on Montgomery would show the world.

There was a belief that we would overcome. And the fact that President Johnson used those very words in his televised speech on the Voting Rights Act shocked many and angered some.

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Fifty years later, we still fall short but ”tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed, and if we’re as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned” (Octavia Butler September 1, 2000 NPR interview with Scott Simon).

We may be struggling “to be the change we seek”—maybe that is the never-ending human struggle–sometimes a great cause and other times, a true movement.

Our world is now even smaller as we meet one another screen to screen on a daily basis—connected is the word bandied about—we are faced with all we are and are not. We are a work in progress, ever in motion.

For a moment, we can reflect on but not bring forward the hope of another time. We move along with the real pulse of life all around us, a collective heartbeat. And if we are angry, that is our pulse. It is our truth.

What if we all learn to listen to the heartbeat of our anger? It is more calming, this expanding of a heartbeat, than you may think for it is the truth of what one feels. In knowing the truth we find our way to compassion and possibly tolerance, once again taking up the banner of believing we will overcome.

What kind of world might be possible if we turn to our hearts for the truth, for the real pulse of our lives? Are we intelligent enough to try?

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Note: Tom Michael, who walked the miles from Selma to Montgomery, writes a thoughtful and powerful essay on that time. You will find it here.

27 thoughts on “What the Heart Reveals in a Beat

  1. i read this post and know we haven’t dropped the ball. this is the next wave, and it’s all here. i think we’re all waking up and thinking, “hey! we had a dream. a promise. and kids are listening to HAPPY the way we listened to Feelin’ Groovy. i do believe we’re rolling, especially when i read your posts. this is… wow. meredith

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  2. Karen – this is such a powerful post – drawing your past, present and the realities of wider life into one. One of the reflections I have on the past is to do with its possibilities. Why did I end up with this particular present, and not another one? All have to be accepted, of course; we cannot lament anything. We do our best at the time with what we know, and we cannot feel critical later because hindsight offers better vision. Through all, our hearts – literally – provide rhythm, but one few of us are consciously aware of until we focus on it – both literally, and in the sense of the mind.

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    1. Thanks, Matthew! I am sure you have read some of the latest on parallel universes–I find that subject fascinating–like you, I often reflect on this “particular present.” It’s just interesting to wonder and to let go. I see it as part of mindfulness for the more mindful I am, the more time I seem to have.
      Karen

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      1. It’s surprising how mindfulness works, isn’t it – it is so much more than the notion of simply ‘being aware’. I’m hoping to write one of my science posts on the parallel universe/determinism theory, as soon as I can dig out some of the papers behind it. It’s an intriguing speculation at the very least. And there might be something in it.

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        1. There really might be something in the parallel universe/determinism theory just as there is more to mindfulness that most ever consider. I’m looking forward to your science post, and I thought of you immediately as I began to read about it. Of course, my reading is as a non-scientist but as an almost Buddhist, the parallels with the quantum world are stunning! Frankly, it gives me hope. 😉
          Karen

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment, Ruth, is helping me frame my next post, which is less about anger and more about being. Nonetheless, anger is a feeling that I have “sat with” for I recognize that in autoimmune disease, I am fighting myself. I really began looking at anger about six years ago for it has played a significant role in most of my life. Thanks so much, Ruth!
      Karen

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      1. I’m looking forward to your next post! I realize that I have a lot to learn from anger, so I am interested to hear what others have gleaned. Especially those who I know look carefully at such things.

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  3. The Chinese have a very ancient system of medical diagnosis and treatment. It is fascinating to hear your experience. Their system is so much more subjective than ours and depends on the sensitivity, training and experience of the healer, which means there are good ones and not so good ones, but it sounds like you got a really good one, and a good chinese doctor can do things our western medicine cannot.

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    1. Dr, Gold is one of the best, without a doubt! TCM requires patience–not my strong suit–but I am learning to appreciate the consistency of Qi. All I have to do is remember that every day I have is its own balance–its own moment–so I open myself to that first in meditation and then in yoga. In the stillness of meditation, the movement of Qi begins; in yoga, the body stretches as the Qi balances for that day. Truly, Craig, it is a remarkable experience. TCM really helped me bring together meditation and yoga. Thanks!
      Karen

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  4. What I miss about those times is the sense of purpose, the outrage over our long, long history of injustice. Sometimes I feel as if we are asleep these days, or distracted by video clips of puppies on Face Book. Although connected we use our connectivity for little that is meaningful. How can all of us be so blind to the light at the end of the tunnel–which is indeed the train–that is global climate change? How can people so in touch with each other not band together as we did for civil rights and make something happen before it is too late?

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    1. I am with you completely on this, as you know. For every question you ask, my only answer is, “I don’t know.” What I do know is that there are some pockets of hope–you know this as well–and some days, it feels like there really is the beginning of a movement. On on other days, it is bleak as we are looking for leaders on all fronts, including the political scene. Yet, now and even fifty years ago, so much had to happen before people really began to move. I do not know what it will take for us to recognize climate change but recognized or not, it will show us. Thanks, Adrian.
      Karen

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  5. I’ll say Dr. Gold is amazing. That was a very enlightening session. Interesting how intolerance is related to anger which energy is dispersed from the liver, then backs into the heart. I know it well. And I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from TCM. It’s made me more aware of my emotions and how it not only can affect me mentally, but physically as well. It’s help me to become more sensitive to others and my own surroundings. It just makes so much sense. I’m so glad you found a good practitioner Karen. Wonderful post my friend. 😊

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    1. Yes! TCM just makes so much sense! It has completely changed my relationship with pain, much as you describe. And I find that I have much more compassion for myself so I am able to extend that to others in a way that is truly authentic. I am just able to work through a situation in a more thoughtful way. I credit TCM as well as meditation and yoga. I am more present so I am more mindful. Thanks so much, Karen!
      Karen

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  6. Wow. Just wow. As always, a wonderful and thought-provoking post, Karen. I’ve not seen the movie, Selma but it is on my short list of films. I was a wee one during the Civil Rights movement but the anger and division in our society is palpable. I too wish we could all just take a moment to stop, and as you said: feel that pulse. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for this and I’m so pleased to read of your continued positive results via alternative therapies. Best to you, my friend.

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    1. It was quite a time and the movie really reminded me of how I felt. Memories returned that I have not thought of in years. So, the movie is powerful, and I think it is a reminder that when we join together we do get results. As for TCM, it rocks my world! Thanks so much, Stephanie!
      Karen

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    1. I think you will enjoy the movie. No doubt you are aware of some of the controversy around the accuracy of events. It’s a film and an interpretation but my sense is that it is true to the tenor of the time. Adrian (slowdancejournal comment) raises a point that I share: I do miss the coming together that we seemed to be able to do then and now, we remain somewhat distant although more connected than ever. Thanks, Cynthia!
      Karen
      P.S. I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of the movie.

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  7. Kelly Clarkson’s newest song is set to the rhythm of her baby’s heartbeat. But, she had to slow it down a bit to make it work. There is such truth in our beats, right? And you’re right, in this smaller & smaller world, what is in our hearts matters more than ever . . .

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    1. For some time I have been exploring the idea of the head as secondary to the heart for the heart does not lie. But when I felt my pulse as Dr. Gold showed me, it was like feeling the truth for the first time. Once again, my world shifted. Thanks, Kay.
      Karen

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I just loved your dad’s essay, Ann. Obviously, it stirred much in me. Chinese medicine is expanding my world in ways that continue to astonish me. And then there is Dr. Gold who is such an amazing human being. Thanks, Ann!
      Karen

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