A client asked me recently, What does it mean to open the heart and why is it important ? It’s a good question.
For me it relates to another question, how do I want my life to be ?
Like many people I want peaceful, loving relationships, a healthy body, a quiet mind, to be free from nagging anxieties and to stop creating and attracting stressful situations or experiences. I want to be deeply relaxed at all times and simultaneously, be alert, awake and alive ! (What a pity those things are not on the school curriculum !) I feel that the purpose of opening the heart is to allow love IN. I know that when I feel deeply loved, I am joyful, relaxed, at peace and naturally more trusting of life itself.
One way to enable ourselves to allow love in is to become aware of the barriers we create to receiving that love. Those barriers which can manifest as defensiveness, cynicism, blaming or shaming others, may have been created to protect ourselves when it was not safe to receive. It is a natural thing to do when we have been hurt by those we trusted or who we wanted to love us. Nevertheless, over time those barriers will cheat us of receiving the very love we want, need and deserve. This can result in us becoming our own oppressor when the original need for defence is long gone.
It is my experience that once we focus on removing those barriers, once we commit to our own healing, changes will occur and it is important to organise appropriate emotional support for ourselves. Currently I am benefiting from a therapeutic/coaching tool called Clean Language, as well as committing myself to put as much energy into joyful thoughts as I do into fearful ones !
My client asked another question. If the purpose of opening the heart is to let love in, to experience joy as a natural state of being, why is it so hard? Well, I would say its because it requires us to trust. If trust is like a muscle, which we rarely exercise, it becomes weak and flabby so when we try to use it, it feels untrustworthy !
When we begin to change part of ourselves, all the other parts have to adjust to allow for this change, so being more trusting can be a threat to our fears which like to have full command of our attention. Fears are very concerned with their own survival, and when we actively practice becoming more trusting and less fearful, they tend to rise up and demand that we notice them. This is a natural process and when this happens, I tend to practice the ‘I notice...’ exercise as explained in the books of Eckhart Tolle.
It goes like this. I say to myself, ‘I notice Im feeling fearful,’ and I repeat this many times until the feeling diminishes. The important part of this is the I notice, as it separates you from the fear, its like taking the fear and putting it over there where you can observe it, rather than saying this fear is part of my identity. It is the simplest of exercises which can be done anywhere and it is profoundly effective.
All of this is a reflection on the journey, upon which, opening the heart will take us. There is no shortage of love if only we are open enough to receive it.