I was looking at the last couple of chapters in Agents of Grace by Barry Martin Snyder and Karen Anderson, and am very impressed with their description of the three soul centers. Partly because it fits my experience very closely!
Here is how I would describe it, based on my own experience.
An awakening of the head center allows a seeing or recognition of all as God. This is enlightenment and the emphasis of Buddhism, although it’s also found and described by folks in other traditions, including Christianity and Sufism.
An awakening of the heart center opens for a love of all as God, and a recognition of all as God’s love. This is – in Barry and Karen’s terminology – enlovenment, and it’s the emphasis of Christianity and Sufism, although it’s also obviously found in other traditions such as Buddhism.
An awakening of the belly center opens for feeling all as God, for a body-feeling of all as God just as it is. This is, again in Barry and Karen’s terminology, enlivenment, and emphasized in Taoism and shamanic traditions, although it’s sometimes found and described in other traditions.
For me, it started with a head center awakening in my mid-teens, a brilliantly clear recognition of absolutely everything – without exceptions and just as it is – as God, as Spirit, as awareness. After some time, perhaps some months and years, this led into an opening of the heart center, a love of everything – as it is, without exception – as God, and a recognition that it’s all already God’s love.
After some years, the dark night of the soul set in with it’s purging of emotional layers, a cleaning out and healing of wounds and primal fears. This allows for a recognition of all as God and God’s love to be lived more fully and clearly through this human life. So far, there are moments of a shift into a much more clear felt recognition of all as God, and it may lead to a more obvious opening of the belly center (or not). For me, having quite a bit to “purge” at the emotional and primal fear levels, this has been by far the most difficult and challenging part of the process up to now.
It’s also worth mentioning that there seems to be a continuing clarification, opening, deepening and maturing at each center. It can always be more clear, it can always deepen, it can always be recognized and lived from in a more mature way. In some ways, I am always at step one. It’s always life 101, in new variations and flavors.
And although these centers can be understood in a literal sense, they are also – and primarily – metaphorical.
– see all as God (head, enlightenment) – Buddhism (Christianity, Sufism)
– love all as God, all as love (heart, enlovenment) – Christianity, Sufism (Buddhism)
– feel as as God (belly, enlivenment) – Taoism, Shamanism
– for me, head initially, mid-teens, then heart, late teens/early twenties, then a process of opening for feeling all as God (removing what’s in the way, purgation – healing wounds, hurt, beliefs at emotional/bodily levels, very primal)
– for me, the last one experienced as much more challenging, difficult, struggle against/with
head – masculine/yang, belly – feminine/yin, heart – both