Sometimes, when all is still and quiet, I can feel my heart thrumming in my chest and its beat pulsing in my fingertips. Tucked away safe inside my ribcage, it radiates my life essence to each cell with each beat.

About the size of your fist, your heart is a strong muscle that contracts and relaxes as blood is moved from chamber to chamber to arteries and lungs, back to heart chambers and body cells, and back again. A friend of mine with congestive heart failure is very aware of her heart but I am rarely aware of mine.

My heart. Not only the foundation of existence, but also home to love, home to heartbreak. No one is immune from either. Our hearts beat as we fall in love and we glow and expand, our very nerves seem powered by another. We fall in love with our lover and our children, our hearts set on fire by our passion of and for life. And then our hearts take a pause as the muscles poise to contract once more and maybe at this very moment something happens and our hearts break. Something happens and our hearts can suddenly feel constricted, heavy, black. Our life force seems sucked away and our hearts a vacuum yet somehow it keeps on beating, keeps on going, keeps on living.

I invite you to place the palm of your hand flat against your heart and feel your body’s engine at work. Feel your body’s engine at work and feel it beat and persevere. Feel it beat and feel it persevere and feel it strong and tireless against your hand. Appreciate it. Appreciate its hard work at keeping on beating at a steady pace and staying the course. Appreciate the way it sometimes glows crazily from love and sometimes shrinks into a black mass. Appreciate its rhythm and its structure, its steady thrum against your hand. Your heart is keeping your body oxygenated and keeping your body healthy – yes, that is its literal and physical job. Yet it is also allowing expansion into bliss and contraction into sorrow, and back again.

Think of your life’s joys and your sorrows. Up and down and often in between, our heart keeps going. The oxygen-rich red blood goes to our tissues and cells and the blue blood goes back to our hearts and lungs for refilling, recirculation, rebirth. Our hearts expand and contract and expand once more.

When’s the last time you felt your heart beating?