Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls,
something borrowed which we mistake as our own.
Ignorance is better than this; clutch at madness instead.
Always run from what seems to benefit your self:
sip the poison and spill the water of life.
Revile those who flatter you;
lend both interest and principle to the poor.
Let security go and be at home amid dangers.
Leave your good name behind and accept disgrace.
I have lived with cautious thinking;
now I’ll make myself mad.
[ II, 2327 – 32 ]
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
This quote by Jelaluddin Rumi, a 13th century mystic poet, which I stumbled upon over a decade ago had a profound effect upon me. It came to define how I chose to lead my life from that moment on. Rumi was of the most profound and passionate poets in history.
The poem above captures the essence of what it is like to let go of rational cerebral thinking and instead be lead by your heart. Rumi was a true ‘heartist’ in every sense of the word.
A heartist is someone who follows their heart even if it doesn’t follow ‘conventional opinion’. A heartist is a free thinker – someone who questions things. They are passionate and creative. They don’t take no for no answer because they believe that anything is possible if you put your heart into it. ‘Love’ is a word they use quite often. They have passion for life and compassionate for all living beings. They believe the way forward is through love and that love is the light that dispels darkness and fear.
Rumi was also an ascetic, someone who lives simply and frugally with few possessions, often retreating from the world for deep reflection and meditation. This lifestyle has always attracted me and it sees me retreating regularly into Nature to recharge and escape from the mad, headlong rush of modern technological society.
I consider myself a heartist, even if at times I have seen myself stray from love and have fallen into fear.
I have chased ‘security’ only to discover that life, happiness and the beauty it contained existed in every moment.
We often sacrifice our happiness chasing possessions and some future utopia at the expense of our presence, relationships and often sanity. The Dalai Lama has said that “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” With so much fear mongering and uncertainty we have turned away from our centre, we no longer hear the beat of our hearts and have allowed fear to take hold.
Follow Your Heart’s Compass
I believe it is time for each of us to embrace love and compassion. It is time for change in the world and we are all called to conquer fear with great love and compassion. We are all on our own journey in life, what if with each step in each moment we become more aware of the happiness and love we can create in the world today?
My Heartist Journey
My heartist journey has at times taken detours as I bought into conventional opinion instead of following my heart. In this moment in history there is great fear in our world.
We live in a reality where we daily hear about terrorist attacks, wars, famine, the refugee crisis, financial meltdown, personal debt and foreclosures, austerity measures and the fear of default, and the environmental crisis.
The majority of society are filled with anxiety and a sense of uncertainty.
This is the time we need to slow down, to become centred in ourselves rather than looking for answers outside of ourselves. Begin to listen to your heart’s beat and allow yourself to be lead by it.
In June 2017 I let go of ‘security’. I decided to closed down my business for 6 months. I let go of clients that I had spent years working with and a businesses that I had made many sacrifices to build.
Near the start of 2017 I had turned 46. I was a tired burned out workaholic.
My wife had begged me to slow down with my business. My health had deteriorated through years of stress and a sedentary lifestyle chained to the computer. I was overweight and depressed.
Beside my main business as a retail designer I wrote self-help books. And they were ‘self-help’ books in the sense that I wrote them to help and remind myself when I was feeling down and uninspired. If it helped others that was a bonus.
For quite some time I had felt directionless and stuck in a deep dark rut that the more I struggled to escape the more I fell deeper into it. I know I needed to make a change. I know I needed to slow down. Then it became clear – I would never leave my ‘job’ as I would always take on one project and then another project ‘because my clients needed me’. The only way I could break my addiction was to literally have a pattern interrupt.
For over 20 years I had talked about doing a ‘big walk’. I dreamed of having the courage to be on the road with few possessions, no certainty, and no compass, with only my heart and my intuition to lead the way, and the goodness of others to shine the path forward.
For over 20 years I made every excuse why now wasn’t the right time.
Then it struck me that there will never be a ‘right time’ and I had let my life slip enough. I had discovered as I was researching the Camino about people who have made the pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem. Within weeks I had discovered a human rights organisation that was organising a journey to bring awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people in the Holy Land. I had been to the Holy Land over 23 years ago and saw first hand the discrimination and lack of equality that Palestinians face on a daily basis.
The Way of Love
This walk of compassion and solidarity was my ‘pattern interrupt’ that I realised needed. I felt in my heart that I was ‘back on track’ following a path of love and compassion both for myself and others, and one eschewed by Rumi:
His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to people of all sects and creeds. 
This walk would be a way back to my heart. A fortnight before leaving for overseas, a friend gave me a gift of a going away gift of a pink quartz heart to carry on my journey. Mia Munro, is an incredible woman who is helping to shift businesses to be more heart-centred and socially aware through education. She understood where I was in life and the pink quartz heart was such a poignant talisman that I would take with me to remind me to let my heart guide me.
Within 6 weeks I had completed my projects, and hurriedly squeezed a couple of weeks training to walk 30 kilometres a day. With little preparation and training, I was on my way.
I decided to give up the fear that comes with not knowing and embrace love, adventure and the unknown.
I gave up ‘stuff’ for you can only carry so much on a journey and hoped to unload thoughts that we all carry inside along the way. I look forward to living the life of an ascetic, with plenty of time to reflect while I slow down to a walking pace.
As a dear friend has said to me, I am ‘letting go and letting God’ and with one foot in front of another my journey began.