The Art of the Heart

Dive into the realm of the heart and find layers to explore, sense, and heal.


Build strength in the heart and mobility in the body by moving the heart around in space. Taking it up and down, side to side, front and back — even without moving the feet — develops cardiovascular strength.

In Nia, we use the three planes of movement to build cardiovascular health. Moving the heart, even slightly, low middle and high gives powerful training to this all important muscle. Early in my Nia training, at my Blue Belt with Carlos Rosas we were working through the 52 moves of Nia. We went through them one by one, over and over so we could feel the nuances of each move. There are only 7 Core moves, so when we began them I thought, “Easy peasy!” But when we got to Spinal Rolls, we’d only done about 6 before I was sweating. What in the world? “That,” said Carlos, “is the power of the three planes.”


The emotional energy of the heart is (not shockingly) compassion. The heart chakra (or energy center) has two aspects — one in the front in the center of the chest and one in the back between the shoulder blades. The front aspect is where we feel love, happiness, joy. The back aspect is where we feel sadness, grief, sorrow. A healthy emotional heart is balanced between the two: front and back, light and dark.

Years ago, after a long, drawn-out breakup, I got a massage. Face down on the table, the therapist asked me how I was doing. “Oh, I’m FINE,” I said. “Just FINE. It was a long time coming and the right thing to do.” But when she put her hand on the middle of my back she said, “Your heart feels like concrete.” As the warmth of her hand softened into my back, I started to cry. Grief and sadness were trapped in my “FINE” heart chakra.

I recommend this short piece on healing and balancing the energetic heart.


What is your heart’s desire? What do you feel pulled to do with your one precious life?

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.” ~ Martha Graham

Graham is talking about your heart spirit, that energy which is uniquely yours and which is really a combination of the energy of your Will Center at your solar plexis and your Expression Center at your throat. Be alert to those “urges that motivate” you. Pay attention and follow them. The world needs your heart spirit.

About the Art

Sometimes I get ideas for pieces in the misty squishy place between sleeping and waking. That’s what happened here: an image of a layered piece reflecting the aspects of the heart materialized at about 5am (and then there was no more sleeping).

The first layer is a simple image of the physical heart painted in shades of green (the color for the Heart Chakra).

The second is a collage of green hearts over the painting ~ all cut from a Yoga Journal magazine that a friend gave me this week!

The third is a collage of tissue paper hearts in yellow (color of Solar Plexis Chakra) and blue (color of Throat Chakra) over the other two layers.

  1. What a gorgeous creation, Susan! This heart also reminds me of a plant merged with an upside down face–all is one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Anne. You’re very kind. I loved making it! ❤

  2. Irene Thomas said:

    Hello, Susan, I have been following my heart (see above) for the past year, leading me to Illustration Nation, and to your comment today. You artwork is wonderful. I woke up this morning, thinking to myself. “I have lots of preparing to do today, husband is out and I am going to turn my housework into strong and fluid movements so I can get more exercise.” … then I read your comment, so I am here. I no longer question these events which seem to happen all the time now. I look forward to reading your posts and learning more.

    • Wonderful! I’m so glad to meet you, Irene. I love the possibilities of connection that the InterWebs allows! And well done to dance through your housework to a stronger, more graceful you. I look forward to staying in touch. ❤

  3. Marion Robbins said:

    Susan, this one is truly outstanding and nurturing and life-giving. Thanks! Very timely for me too, as I’ve been through a “dark night” with lower back and then right hip pain. Better now. Today our beloved Percy cat is “being put down” because he has diabetes, has stopped eating and the time has come…. It hurts a lot, and we have cried a lot. This piece confirms, uplifts and comforts…. Bless you! Marion

    • oh dear one. I’m so sorry for all that you are carrying. Each one difficult and together even more so. I’m thinking of you and sending so much love. (And after a visit with M&D this weekend, send it through them, too.)

  4. Lori A Raphael said:

    So great to read on a Monday morning

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