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Finding the Heart




Meditation Made Easy
by Lorin Roche, Ph.D.

Available as book or cassette.

Order  from Amazon.



IN MANY TRADITIONS, the heart is the ultimate destination, the real core of your being, the place you want to abide, the center where you are You.

But what are they talking about? What is this heart?

It's not the heart that cardiologists study, not the big wet thumping glob of muscle in your chest. It's the emotional heart, the heart that wants to burst when you're imperiously proud, the heart that grows heavy as you gobble a gallon of chocolate ice cream to stave off depression, the heart that lurches when you're overcome by emotion during the tear-jerking finale of an everything-works-out-in-the-end movie.

This heart should be easy to find, since it's you, but sometimes it isn't. Where to go for guidance? To Lorin Roche, of course. He's a remarkable meditation teacher who lives in California. What makes him different from other teachers is his facility for helping people find the technique that's most natural for them. (It's the one they already use a little bit without realizing it.) Here's how he put it in a letter to me:

"What I want is for the person to spontaneously slip into the technique most appropriate for them, and then to notice what that is. When a meditation teacher has done her or his job properly, in my book, the student is not impressed with the teacher -- she is impressed with what is inside her, with the wisdom of life that's there just under her breath. When I am working with people, I get them to tell me what their technique is -- by asking them simple questions about how it feels to breathe, to sit there, to see light, to feel the touch of air on their skin, to feel the impulse that made them interested in meditation. As they tell me, they shift into the level of perception that meditation techniques come from."

Lorin's ability to help people do this is more than a knack: he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject at the University of California.

We asked Lorin for permission to reprint his directions for a heart-centered meditation from his delightful book Meditation Made Easy. Here it is.

A Heart-Centered Meditation

From Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche, Ph.D.

Time: One minute to ten minutes
When: Anytime you have heartache or joy that needs attending to.

Some time when you are relatively quiet inside, let attention rest in the area around the physical heart and lungs. The lungs are spacious and the heart is muscular. Corresponding to those physical organs is an area of pure feeling. This feeling center is what people informally mean when they say they have heartache or their heart is glad.

To get in there, recall some great experience that made your heart glad, that made you glad to be alive. Just thinking of it, a sensation will arisein your heart: it could be a sense of light, or swelling, or an upward-moving current of electricity, or a vibration. Use that as a homing signal and let attention be called into that place called "the heart." Be alert, because the sensations may only last for a flash, a few seconds.

As attention rests there, become aware also of the gentle pulsing of breath.

If you have a sense of sorrow or grief, you may have sensations in the heart already there. If so, simply be with them. The sensations are calling you.

You may also have a sense of joy and gratitude about events in your life, and may have wonderful sensations in your heart center. We can neglect to pay attention to our joy, just as we can neglect to adequately be with our pain.

If you do not have sensations or feelings of ache or joy in the heart, don't worry. Some day you will. Come back then to this exercise and check it out.

If at some point while meditating, you find strong emotions going through you, explore this simple practice of resting attention in the heart.

As you breathe in and out, be alert to the qualities of emotion you are feeling. If you are feeling an emotion, be aware that it may change every couple of minutes into something else. Sometimes the emotions change every few seconds.


Go back from the sternum, inward. Feel all the way back to the spine. That is the heart area.

Simply being with these sensations will help tremendously, for the heart knows how to heal itself and become available to love again. You have only to be willing to tolerate the aching.

When you "speak from the heart" it means you are speaking from inside those sensations. Courage is "to have heart." To stay in the heart when you are afraid or the sensations are too much to bear but you bear them anyway, that is the definition of courage. As you breathe in, the world is touching you, renewing you, encouraging (en-courage-ing) you to live again, adventure forth and experience.


Greet and Say Goodbye

Here is a simple approach to a heart meditation:

Be there in the heart to greet the incoming breath. Embrace it. Be awake to the gift life is giving you with this breath.

Say goodbye to the outgoing breath. Let go of it. Be awake to the freedom that comes from letting go of the old air, old thoughts, old feelings.




Lorin Roche's Website


Laura Olshansky is editor in chief of


This page was published on January 16, 2000 and last revised on February 14, 2000.

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