Ancient text, and many modern ones, speak to the idea of having our hearts open.
But what does that even mean?
I believe opening our hearts to ourselves, others, and to Life itself is a continuous and courageous process.
Sometimes our hearts close, sometimes our hearts open. The practice of awareness and gentle aspiration towards a heart that is open more often than closed is a worthy and meaningful endeavor.
I believe opening our hearts is an ever unfolding, and natural, process that, like a recipe, is best when it has some essential ingredients.
It begins with a willingness and desire to practice awareness. Even something as simple as our inhale and exhale can be a sufficient pathway to the heart, when done with intention.
As with any repeated action or awareness, returning again and again to our heart creates a familiar path that continually leads us to more presence and love in how we engage and interact with ourselves and others.
It is towards this subtle wisdom of our hearts that we re-attune ourselves. I believe the soft language of the heart is somehow fundamental to understanding our human puzzle and as such, has an important role that we are only now beginning to rediscover. This requires presence, stillness, a desire to listen, and a willingness to be surprised.
On a very practical level, it can be simply asking ourselves the question, What does my heart feel like in this moment? Often when we ask this, the heart may be silent. This is ok.
By creating a graceful habit of being in the inquiry of how our hearts feel, we begin to learn its gentle language. When we can understand the heart’s different flavors of yes, no, and stillness, we can begin to truly follow our hearts.
The language of the heart can be said to be sensation. It doesn’t speak in words, or even a voice. Instead, it speaks in colors, images, and sensations. When we begin to listen to the language of the heart, we will notice that its sensations can be both subtle and pronounced.
Sudden rushes of passion, the way a song can move us to tears, the gentle kiss of breeze across our skin, and the heartbreak that often comes with goodbye are all included in our expanding experience of the heart’s mystery.
From conscious awareness, we move into the body. When we practice yoga, chi-gong, and other practices that holistically engage the body, we rediscover a heightened awareness. As our physicality and energetic bodies are tied together, a supple, strong, and open chest allows us to become efficient and effective beacons and antenna of love.
The final and crucial aspect of opening our hearts is what some would call faith, imagination, belief, or even magic.
The road to becoming good stewards to our heart and the wisdom it contains often leads us straight through the unknown. We don’t have to believe in a higher power or even that ‘we are all one’ to be well, connected, and open in our hearts, it only requires we believe in the goodness of ourselves and humanity (tough as nails as that can be sometimes).
It is from this courageous belief that we draw from when there’s too much debris between our heart, and each other. The belief that leads us to our daily practice with devotion and intention, even when we don’t feel like it, feel anything, or feel everything.
As we begin to feed this seed of belief with nutrients of care, attention, deep breaths, and silly smiles, what blossoms is an inner fire that begins to burn away what is in the way of an open heart, and each other.