Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Maturation of the Awakened Heart

Tree Heart
Many moons and a couple cycles around the sun ago, I wrote a blog called The Heart Awakening: Falling in Love With Everyone. It's a lovely piece, and it speaks right to the "heart" of awakening. The initial phase of heart awakening is to fall in love with everything. The melting of our inner separation leads to a melting of outer separation for our hearts. When we love the whole of ourselves, we can love the whole of humanity even if it does not love us back. However, this state rarely stays long. It can last for hours, minutes, days, and months (I had a friend who lasted a couple months in this state of awareness, more or less). Because states are always temporary, things will ebb and flow. Things will also integrate, and since the theme for this year is going to be integration of spirituality for many of you, I'm writing to talk about how your heart will often go through cycles of healing and deeper integration of the awakened state of love.

The First Wave of Love Will Not Be the Last
The first time you feel "true" love you may be overwhelmed. It's like this massive tidal wave washing over everything. It's intoxicating and permeating. You barely know what to do with yourself. You may even forget your own name. You are absolutely saturated by it, and you can know this because you still remember what it feels like to be absolutely dehydrated and parched from lack of it. That's an important thing to remember. To be able to determine what state of awareness you are in, your ego needs to have another reference point. That's part of why initially so many people who think they're in love actually have no idea what love is. They have no other reference points to benchmark what they're feeling. They are unlikely to have even questioned what the "love" they are feeling actually is. Subsequently, a wave of true love hitting a person like this may cause them to completely hide out in their shell for fear of being washed away.

But you will not be washed away. You will be greatly nourished and forced to expand. Much like the way little crabs outgrow their shells at the beach, you will have to find a bigger home and create more space in your heart to fully receive this bounty. This is part of the natural maturation of your awakened heart. Most people don't simply wake up and stay at a given energy vibration. Usually, different waves of awareness and true love wash through you as you make space to hold whatever your natural vibration is. It's definitely not a process that any of us controls in awakening. It simply happens, but much like my metaphor of cultivating a garden, you want to do the best you can to prepare space to absorb as much of the next wave as possible without turning the garden into an untenable bog.

And the Tears Return
Today's metaphor for love seems to be water. Yesterday's metaphor was also water for energy. The two are pretty much the same to me. They're really only slightly different flavors of the same batch of ice cream. Regardless, you may go through more cycles of healing and releasing of emotions. Crying is still one of the healthiest ways I know to let go of old pains. I was making a small amend yesterday with a family member, and I felt in this small apology a release of energy and pain that almost brought me to tears. I simply was with what I was feeling, and it passed. A lot of times these days, I don't actually cry, but I feel the sadness fully. I breathe into it, and it passes. It wasn't always like this, and each cycle brings new intensity. It's like spirit works on one aspect of your soul body, and then the next time it around it works on a completely different part. In that way, it always feels intense and new each time around. I encourage you to trust that newest even though you will suddenly find another layer of vulnerability that you didn't know you had and may feel overcome by emotion once more.

The Stories That Repeat and The Washing Away of Stories
We cage our hearts with so many stories. It's part of why my healing a broken heart and opening a closed heart blog posts are two of my most popular ones. People know that they need to heal from these stories, but they don't know how. Truly our society and upbringing doesn't do us many services in how to open our hearts and let go of old pains. It's all about "toughening up," which only leads to more pain or total numbness. (On another note, awakening love can be super overwhelming for many people because they are going straight from total numbness to total feeling; it's why I try to slowly work students towards opening so that they're ready to finally feel everything.)  But back to the stories, as you deepen your work and open your heart, you may be surprised how many times the same old story is lodged in there. It was fear of intimacy that killed your last relationship, and then you go through a cycle of healing that opens your heart to more intimacy. But the next wave of this awakening energy brings up an even deeper fear of intimacy from a friendship in college. So you work on this. Maybe you call that friend. Maybe you write a letter that never gets sent. Maybe you even go to an energy healer to heal this issue.

There. Done. Over.

Then the next wave comes and more fears of intimacy comes up.

Swearing now ensues. (My Goodness who knew that you knew all those words! ;)

And you find yourself dealing with an issue with your mother from childhood. You are forced to find ways to love her more fully now even though she is passed on. You can't work it out with her directly, but you can do some psychic work if necessary to cut those old unhealthy energy connections that may still be there.

"Yes, yes, yes! My heart is open!" you say afterwards.

Then the next shift comes, and it's still there. Rooted in some ancient familial core issue around getting too close to someone who once betrayed someone. The next story is just a raw feeling of fear. The next after that is so forgotten that it's like black slime at the bottom of your soul, and nothing but love can clean it out. No reason, no technique to use on it. Just love and pure presence.

That Seems Like a Lot of Work
Those of you in awakening know how this goes. It's part of why discipline and commitment to yourself is absolutely crucial on the spiritual path. The old ego self still may not fully believe in you. It may try and tell you that going back is better, or that somehow it will be safer. But the more awakened your heart is (and I really am just talking about the heart, not the mind, body, or how the overall energy awakens), the more you know that there's nothing to go back to except lies and illusion. While some of this heart work doesn't require work at all, it still requires the space in your life to be with it and to be with what is arising in you. Some of it doesn't even require you to experience the feelings to fully release them. While the heart learns through feeling, the maturing awakened heart doesn't get drowned in those feelings. That's just part of the heart's maturation process in embodying awakening. So I encourage you to always trust your emotions, but don't get lost in them.

The Maturing Heart: Loving Endlessly and Accepting Fully
The path of the mature heart is to love endlessly and accept fully. As I constantly remind everyone, this is not a permissive attitude. You still love your child fully when you put him or her on time-out for throwing a baseball through a window in the house. This is strong love. In that same way, prisons are still needed, and grades are still given. However, the mature heart knows how to love to help heal people and offer guidance to those who are ready to receive it. It doesn't enforce its way on others, but it understands the many issues and difficulties of duality. Other people will still be mean and violent. You don't force others to leave this behavior behind. For the most part, doing your work and allowing space to embody love is how you will model new behavior for others. Because truly, people are lost. They don't know how else to be, and until they see other people living their lives from awakened hearts, they're going to continue to do the same destruction patterns over and over. Can you imagine how many people would want to chain smoke if they were awakened in their hearts? It would feel so bad that they just wouldn't even consider poisoning themselves in this way, and you wouldn't need laws and warning labels around smoking. But for now, certain laws are necessary until people fully learn how to love themselves.

In this way, trusting the maturation of your heart regardless of if you are in awakening or not is crucial to changing the world. It doesn't require you to be anything or do anything other than to love yourself fully. Awakened love may be the simplest and most profound gift that you could ever give yourself and the rest of the world.

Today's picture is a gift from a friend.
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