An Unlikely Expression of the Heart

by Barrie Risman

Not all expressions of the heart are beautiful. In the recent issue of National Geographic, I was touched by a photo of an artist in Kinshasha Uganda, using her art and her body to protest against pollution in that city:

Performance artist Julie Djikey protests against pollution as a “human car,” with oil filters on her breasts and motor oil and ashes from burned tires smeared all over her body.
Photograph by Pascal Maitre

This art, perhaps not what I would call classically beautiful, stayed with me. It touched something in me.  This was the cry of her heart, expressed. Through her art, this person in Uganda and I met in the space of the Heart. The Heart, which calls out for justice, freedom, and respect for the living world, is universal – beyond space and boundaries. Her cry was also mine.

In yoga, we penetrate layers of body and mind stuff, and connect back to our essential selves. This is where we find the voice of the heart and discover what it wants to say. This is the place which inspires creativity in all its forms and manifestations. The voice of the heart is not always sweet and gentle, it can be fierce, turbulent and angry. In all its manifestations, however, there is the sense that it is affirming of life in its most expanded form, in its goodness.

Expressions of the heart may not always beautiful but when they are authentic, they are always sublime.

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