Monday, November 29, 2010

Opening a Closed Heart

Following up on the blog about broken hearts, I obviously have to turn my attention to all the closed hearts in the world. It's a funny thing that the very thing that makes everyone feel so good--love--is also the thing that many of us shut out. I had a pretty limited heart for a lot of years. Only a very small number of people came within range of my love. My heart had so many qualifications and bear traps before someone could get to me that it was nearly impossible to feel my love. I remember one day in June of 2007 when I was just starting down the spiritual path. I counted out all the people I loved, and I barely got off one hand. A part of me chimed in saying, "Well, that's stupid." I called up a dear friend shortly thereafter and told her that I loved her. And that's when my heart truly began to open.

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But What If I Get Hurt
Okay, on with the regularly scheduled blog post.

The fear of getting hurt tends to be the crux of the problem. At least, it's what most peoples' minds fixate on. In closing your heart, you feel like you've hedged your bet against getting hurt. Well, that's about as bad as stopping breathing. Sure, you won't inhale any smog or pollution, but you're suffocating. Many peoples' hearts are suffocating, dying. It's making people heartless and cruel. Have we seen enough cruelty in the world yet? I sure have. You may not even think of yourself as a cruel person. You think you're being rational and practical. What a load of egoic bologna. That's just a mental pattern that you've adopted to justify why you're afraid to be vulnerable. And when you fire employees without a severance, that's just business. And when you cut someone off in traffic, it's their fault for not taking the open space in the lane. Cruelty starts out smaller than this in neglecting to listen to another or lend a helping hand. You do this because ultimately, you're being negligent to your own heart, and that's the ultimate cruelty itself.

Pain Comes and Goes: The Memory Makes It Linger
If there's anyone to blame for continued pain from a lost love, it's the ego. It has its broken record of particular events that it plays round and round that makes you suffer. That record makes you re-live the events instead of letting them go. So, it's like you're stabbing your heart again and again. In truth, a lot of pain that we feel is much more of our own doing and our own attachments. We fall in love and then we get so attached to the other person that we live and die by what that other person does or does not do. So many ego stories and personal projections play out in a relationship that it is a wonder that people find happiness in the romances playing out these days.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't open your heart. Until you start to open your own heart, you'll have a lot of difficulty finding love. In one of the ways where I like the Law of Attraction--which is kind of a spiritual fad these days--the idea behind LOA is that like attracts like; love will attract love. If you're negative all the time, you'll attract other negative people. If your heart is closed, you'll find other closed-hearted people. Then you get to justify yourself and your pain, "God, I only ever date these crazy bitches" or "All the guys I attract are such assholes and jerks." These "unsuitable" paramours are reflections of you and your heart, and it's time to take responsibility for this fact.

Opening Your Heart and the Power of Vulnerability
It is a funny thing how we go through cycles of expansion on the spiritual path. So I've had my heart open up several sizes giving me the strength of ten grinches plus two (It's the holiday season as I am writing this; Go watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas if you want to get the allusion =). I'm back in another heart expansion in my life, and I can still feel the same tremulous vulnerability around it. Yet, I've learned how powerful that vulnerability is. When you are authentically you, you give permission to others to open their hearts and be in a sacred space. Love does a lot of healing between two people when this happens, and it opens doorways to many other things. Some people can find themselves crying or scared when this opens up. So much old karma and pain is getting washed out. Just be with it. Or maybe it's overwhelming because where love was barely a muddy creek running through your heart, now it's a raging torrent. Just be with it. Let it overwhelm and expand your banks, expand your capacity for love.

You will feel horribly out of sorts if you've never been in tune with your heart. And you will want to be careful about who you initially share this with. Your instinct will probably be to share it with everyone. Initially, just let it flow. Your heart has an intelligence all it's own, and you need to learn how to trust it. It's not that you turn off your mind--it's not an improvement to go from being totally in your head to totally in your heart. Balance and ownership of both is important for the integral spiritual awakening path. But for a time, it's not a bad thing to put more of your trust and focus on your heart.

Tips and Techniques for Opening a Closed Heart
To get a little more grounded in my spiritual advice for opening a closed heart, here are a couple things that you can do to get started:
  • Make doing an activity you love a daily practice (writing, jogging, painting, wall climbing, coffee with friends, etc.)
  • Focus on how much you love something about yourself
  • Tell someone that you love them without expecting that love to be returned
  • Share emotional, personal stories with close friends that you haven't shared before
Conversely, healing a closed heart may also involve getting rid of things that do not serve you. Here are some things that you may want to clear out:
  • Stop hurting yourself (Extreme work-outs and anything harmful to the body, mind, heart, or spirit)
  • Stop doing things that make you angry
  • Stop doing stuff that others want you to do, but you don't want to do
A Doorway to Spiritual Awakening
You may find out that you're doing a lot of things that do not serve your heart. This is a doorway to deeper change in your life. For instance, you're saying to yourself, "But my job always makes me angry." The first step would be to see how you're attaching to the situations at work, but if this job doesn't make you happy and isn't what you love, you will likely have to quit it or change it to come to terms with your heart.

I didn't say opening your closed heart would be easy. You've set up a lot of situations around you that perpetuate your current way of thinking and feeling. However, I can't emphasize enough that it's totally worth it. Because as you open your heart, you're going to see your world in a brand new way, and when you start to make changes with your heart, an opportunity for a deeper awakening may now become possible. And as always, this amazing, fulfilling change has been waiting locked away inside you the whole time.

Next blog: Reclaiming Your Power: Victim Identities and Abdication of Your Personal Power

For more on this topic, here's a video you can enjoy:
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