May my heart be open
My mind be kind
And my spirit awake
If you engage in a yoga practice, you might relate to the love/hate relationship with heart openers. Bow, Camel, or Fish to name a few. Your posture might start with feelings of restriction, the breath gets caught or feels sticky, and there is a period of uncomfortability and stiffness. But as you continue to breathe, relax, and commit to the pose your physical feelings start to change. What happens next is magical. I’ve always loved the language used in yoga for heart opener postures when this change happens. We use words like expand, grow, open, free, and deepen. I think the words for the physical pose are just as lovely when related to the emotional experience of our hearts.
In a #1 New York Times Bestseller The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A. Singer talks about the psychological human habit to close our hearts and the need to learn how to re-open and keep open. In a spiritual way, Singer explains that we are conditioned to open or close our hearts based on our past experiences. We are programmed to reinterpret and reenact impressions from our past that are still inside of us, even when the stimuli is different.
In my practice as a psychotherapist, I regularly hear that my clients have been wounded by love and struggle to open their hearts physically and emotionally because, as Singer puts it, “it feels unnatural since your innate tendency is to close as a means of protection”. However consider this: “But closing your heart does not actually protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside.”
As I read this I considered it and took deep breaths and felt hope and awakening and a sense of enlightenment and then:
“You throw love away all the time.”
The most powerful sentence. Somewhat shocking, quite true, uncomfortable, and worthy of exploring. Are there times in your life where you close up, thinking that you’re protecting yourself but actually locking yourself inside? Cutting yourself off from your source of energy? Throwing away the love you actually desperately need and desire?
What would be different for you if you were able to keep an open heart; if you were able to keep open when facing a situation that elicits negative impressions of past experiences that are still held captive in your protected but closed heart? If you don’t already have a therapist to help you explore and navigate those wounds that create a sticky breath and uncomfortable thoughts, I’d encourage you to reach out today. Give yourself the space to deepen, grow, expand and find open hearted freedom. After all, “You are only limited by your ability to stay open”.