Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Reconnect to Your Heart

reconnecting to your heart, reconnecting to love, spiritual love, spiritual awakening
I am regularly in sessions talking with students about how to open their hearts, so it felt like it was time to return to this topic because so many people have gotten so disconnected from their true sense of love and their openness to emotions.

If you happen to feel very in touch with your emotions, then you may want to skip this spiritual blog post and go to this one:

Becoming Heart Strong

Being in touch with emotions doesn't mean you are mature with them or are grounded, and becoming heart strong is learning how to anchor into the roiling seas of ever-changing emotions.

If you think you've got that down, then you may enjoy this blog post.

Opening to New Layers of Love

There is so much love inside us. Most of us have no clue, and each heart opening is always kind of a surprise as you discover new depths of love.

All right, I hope I've got everyone going in the right direction for their spiritual journeys. Now back to the topic at hand.

People all have very different relationships with their hearts and access to more or less of their emotional spectrum. Some of you are so numb that you feel like you can't feel anything. Others may feel things, but most of those feelings feel bad. Some of you find that your heart opens from time to time, but that it seems to close down on its own. Wherever you are on this path of reconnection to love, you can open up. You can reconnect because you have never been disconnected from your heart. It is only through a lot of intense belief and self-avoidance that we can deny this natural connection. As such, the reality is that we are in denial of our hearts, and the way to start to heal denial is through acceptance.

Start With Accepting Yourself

The true basis of love is acceptance. You simply accept what is. There are no conditions.

By accepting yourself, you are already moving from a space of love, but it may not feel that way. Thus it is important to understand that true love is not a feeling. True love is your natural state of being. From this space of inner openness and acceptance, you accept all feelings. True love accepts loving kindness, which is what most people consider to be love. True love also accepts guilt, shame, anger, sadness, fear, terror, and self-hatred. Accepting all these emotions is key. You can't hate away your self-hatred. You can't hate away your feelings of being disconnected. That simply perpetuates your disconnection. It's like your right hand punching your left hand because the left hand dropped something. This in no way helps anything, and it doesn't address what was dropped. It is just self-hatred expressing itself in yet another way. Only now it is an attempt to "fix" things.

Moving towards the space of acceptance inherently starts to break the cycle of self-hatred. Actually, it's not even a movement. It's a cessation of movement. You stop actively remembering to believe, feel, and do things that are hateful towards yourself. The more you simply allow yourself to be as you are, the more you will also become aware of all the ways you don't like yourself. It can be quite overwhelming. Just stick with it. Stay in the present moment. Breathe into your feelings, and don't do anything to try and fix anything. You are already healing by taking your energy out of acting out self-hatred. That is one of the first and most important steps to be able to feel your heart in its natural state again.

Facing the Abyss of Self-Hatred


Remembering Someone or Something You Love

As you allow yourself to be as you are, you can then use different techniques to open up to the loving kindness part of your heart, which is what most people really want. Be advised that opening up will bring out a lot of unprocessed unhappy emotions. Most people have become masterful at pushing down and repressing uncomfortable emotions. As such, opening up often releases a whole bunch of junk to process. Much as I've mentioned time and time again on the spiritual awakening blog, you need to breathe into these feelings. Allow them to arise without getting lost in them. I have a whole host of tips and suggestions in other blog posts about releasing these emotions. So for now, I simply want you to understand that reconnecting to your heart will likely get uncomfortable before things even out.


With that said, it can be helpful to remember someone you genuinely love to help you reconnect to your heart. You can think of a past relationship, current relationship, parent, child, friend, or even animal. For many people with difficult childhoods, pets became their avenue for unconditional love. As such, you can think of a past pet you love or a current pet that you love, and then focus on the feeling that arises. Allow yourself to really feel it. As I said, if you are early on in reconnecting to your heart, a lot of other emotions may tumble out first. So it is important to be dedicated and resilient. Keep breathing and relaxing your body into these upset emotions while remembering this sense of love. If no upset emotions move, then simply stay with the image of your loved one. Over time, let go of the image and just focus on the feeling of loving kindness. In this way, it is important to divorce your understanding of love from an external stimulus to an internal choice. In so doing, you are taking ownership of your heart, and you can begin to realize that love truly does come from you and not others.

 Reconnecting to your heart is the start of noticing that you are making choices, but there have been a lot of hidden unconscious choices that you've been making and which have caused you to be unhappy or numb.  However, you can choose differently, and it is time to investigate the beliefs hidden behind those choices.

Choosing to Open Again and Again

Reconnecting to your heart is about choosing to be open. It's about choosing to accept all of life as it is. This seems like a tall order to most people, but what is the alternative? Each time you close your heart, you lose perspective, and you lose your ability to feel. You lose perspective in the sense that our hearts offer us an amazing perspective on how to lovingly interact with any person or situation. When it is closed, we cannot "see" that information. On a simple level, how do you know what work you love to do with a closed heart? You probably don't. That makes all work just work--it's just something you have to do. When you are reconnected to your heart, you know what you love and what is just something you have to do. When you are really open in your heart, lots of things become joys that would otherwise not be. That's part of the joy of living, and the heart is where you have access to that joy. Everything else is a brief physical pleasure or some kind of mind-game where you try to convince yourself that you're in love or happy when you are not.

Additionally, losing your ability to feel is a problem, is it not? So even when a situation is difficult, learning to stay open allows you to stay in touch with your feelings. It allows you to fully feel that situation and then release it. When you closed down, you trap those feelings inside you. That upset energy gets stuck, and that's precisely why opening up often brings up upset feelings. You have to go through the stuff you held onto which resulted from disconnecting from your heart. So there is no upside to closing your heart, and opening becomes the only sane thing to do.

If you notice yourself closing down or that you've already closed, then breathe and relax. Try to remember when you closed down, and breathe into that remembered moment. See what choice inside caused you to close, and explore what is going on there. If you go deeply enough, you can let go of that choice and stay in the vulnerable openness of your heart the next time a similar situation comes. As you go into your spiritual work, you can find deeper pains. The more you release pain, the more being open-hearted is a pain-free experience. It's the hidden wounds inside you that make being open-hearted upsetting.

Confronting Your Hidden Wounds

Part of reconnecting to your heart as I've mentioned is going to ask you to deal with a lot of unprocessed pain. Some of it is easy to get to. Some of it is not. Human beings have become the walking emotionally-wounded in Western Culture, and most people can't even admit to having wounds. Thus, in opening up to your heart, you are opening up to a new level of self-honesty. You can't deny what you feel if you want to reconnect to your heart. You have to allow it and to honor the fact that you have issues. Even if you have never had a major trauma, there are plenty of silent wounds and small events that get stuck inside people. A thorn stuck in a hand may not be a major issue, but with time and neglect, the whole hand may one day need to be amputated.

Thus, you will have to learn to investigate yourself more intensely. But don't worry, the more you open up your heart, the easier it is to notice when you are triggered. Any time you feel anger, sadness, or fear, that's a choice. Outside of having a jolt of fear from a loud sound, you predominantly are choosing your emotions, and your pain is usually doing most of the choosing. 

The deeper you go in healing these hidden wounds--some of which you'll discover aren't so hidden--the more you'll naturally stay open-hearted.

Healing Silent Wounds

Totally Numbed Out to Love

For some of you, you are so numb to life that you can't feel love or much of anything. This is very likely a sign of trauma, and as such, the healing work that is necessary to let go of trauma is a whole other order of inner work that is required. If you know about your trauma, then that should offer you some direction as what to work on and heal. For instance, if you have suffered sexual abuse, you'll know that you can go to therapists and other specialists to work on that specific issue. If you have suffered severe mental manipulation and emotional abuse, then that points you towards other necessary avenues for healing. I often work with such issues in people, but it still comes back to being willing to accept where you are now. You have to accept the pain you've endured, and then you can relax into it to resolve it. 

Being numb actually requires a lot of energy, and that often involves a whole host of distracting tendencies and even addictions. Numbness is one of those strange contradictions that it is not a natural state, but people learn to emotionally shut off so much that those choices seem hidden. Because of how hard someone may be suppressing trauma and other intense pain, reconnecting to your heart means is best supported by creating a big support network to help you move through a lot of intensity and pain. It's too easy to shutdown when intense pain emerges without having a lot of support. While some people can certainly do this inner work all on their own, it is nice to have a little help from your friends. Sometimes, it's just plain necessary.



Say "I Love You" to Someone Every Day

For some of you, saying, "I love you" is a big deal. For others, it's too touchy-feely. If either is true for you, that means this practice is for you.

Every day, find someone to say, "I love you" to. You can even say it while looking at yourself in the mirror. The point is to get in the habit of outwardly offering and displaying love. Too often loving kindness is kept in a jar in the back and only brought out on "special" occasions. But love is the water of life. You should be frolicking in it and diving head long into it. You are surrounded by love, but you act like you are on a love-diet. There's no need to starve yourself for love when you're standing at the love buffet.

Now, certainly, you don't need to do anything dramatic like calling someone you hate and telling them you love them. Most of you aren't ready for that step. Eventually, it is important to open your heart to all of life. When you do that, there is no longer even the idea of closing your heart. For now, start with people you genuinely like. You probably will have a whole load of fear come up when you try to say it if you are out of practice. That makes the practice of saying, "I love you," all the more important for you. As you open up more, it becomes natural and organic when and how to say it. But until you open up, you'll just have to get used to the feeling that this is somehow unnatural. It's not though. It's just not your habit, and your habit has kept you cut off from your heart. It's time to change that.

Heart Openings and Awakened Love

In your journey of heart reconnection to your heart, you may begin to have some beautiful experiences, and there are many kinds of heart openings. Some bring out sadness and fear from old wounds. Others bring forth unimaginable amounts of joy. Others bring out the sadness caused by expansion as you are stretched beyond the limits of the love you are used to feeling. Some people even feel like they open to awakened love and the immeasurable beauty of our whole existence. These are truly amazing experiences.

Yet, any experience will pass, and it is important to not cling onto a feeling-state as a state of awareness to achieve. In creating such an attachment, you will create additional suffering as you reject all other feeling-states that you can have. This is a particularly important caveat for those who have a spiritual awakening and feel immense love for all of life. There's a tendency to assume that this is what you're supposed to get and feel all the time. In becoming attached to that feeling, they often reject the pain and sadness that arise as part of the natural and necessary healing that most people need to go through. In so doing, they actually close their hearts to attempt to avoid these other feelings. Which is how a lot of people got shutdown and numb in the first place.

So while any awakened love and heart opening is awesome, be sure to let it come and go. All feelings are sacred to your heart, not just one kind.

Exploring the Many Ways of Offering Loving Kindness

There are many ways to offer loving kindness and continue to open your heart. I encourage you to research and explore them. The point in all of this is simply to be at peace with all your emotions. The more at peace you are, the more deeply you can go in letting go of hidden pain and unconscious choices that upset your emotional space. As you do that work, the heart space deepens. You become more heart strong. Being grounded in love allows you to be with more and more emotionally difficult situations. In that openness, you can support people and yourself in ways that you couldn't possibly have imagined before. Solutions become easier to find, and hard realities become easier to accept. There is not always a good solution to life, but closing our hearts and disconnecting from love only makes life more unbearable. In the space of your heart, you can continue to thrive to the best of your ability no matter what life throws your way, and that love can become an inspiration to all those who come into your life.

Truly, that's a tremendous gift to have, and you do have it. All you have to do is simply accept and allow, and love is already here.
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