March 14, 2014

The 6 Essential Steps for Opening Our Hearts to Love. ~ Jackie Stewart

elephant archive

Make it your mission to find evidence of love in every situation.

When we open our hearts to love we feel blissful, connected, joyful, inspired and passionate. However, most of us have developed habits that close our hearts and stop us from feeling the love around us.

These six steps will help you to keep your heart open to love.

1. Develop a regular heart awareness practice.

Turn your attention to your heart and focus on your breath moving in and out through your heart. Take three heart breaths: 10 breathor even 100—whatever feels good. I do this first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I do it when I feel judgemental or impatient or disconnected. I do it when when fear claws at my belly and I don’t know what else to do. Every time we consciously breathe through our hearts our attention moves to feeling rather than thinking, so we’re opening our hearts to love.

2. Find evidence of love everywhere.

When life throws you opportunities to place blame or to be afraid, angry or doubtful, choose love instead. Ask “how is this making me more aware of love?” When my son lost his sports kit for the second time last month, I asked how it could make me more aware of love, instead of staying angry long after I’d told him off. When I embraced it as an opportunity to notice more love, we had a beautiful day out together replacing his kit. If I’d stayed focused on how inconvenient it was, I’d have missed that opportunity for joyful connection. Make it your mission to find evidence of love in every situation.

3. Allow your heart to feel the good and the bad.

Stop monitoring your heart and give yourself permission to feel negative emotions as well as positive ones. Given the choice, I’m sure we’d all rather feel enthusiastic than apathetic, but in order to be whole, we need to make space for all our emotions. When I feel annoyed, I notice that I’m annoyed. When I feel scared, I notice that I’m scared. 

By avoiding feeling uncomfortable emotions, we avoid feeling altogether. Make space to embrace doubt, fear, despair, resentment, anger and jealousy as readily as you embrace happiness. When we give ourselves permission to feel whatever we need to feel, our hearts open to unconditional love.

4. Practice acceptance and compassion for everyone, including yourself.

When we view life through the filter of compassion our hearts open to love. I often send regular orders through the mail and the counter staff are helpful—except for one woman. My request for a receipt would always be met with a huge sigh, as though I’d just asked her to walk halfway round the world to deliver my parcels by hand.

I didn’t know anything about what was going on in her life, but I wondered if I could find a place in my heart for her grumpiness. So I started breathing through my heart while I waited, rather than wish her colleagues would serve me instead. Acceptance and compassion began to blossom effortlessly; soon all I could see was her beauty.  She doesn’t sigh at me anymore, in fact we laugh together. When we get in the habit of opening our hearts to acceptance and compassion, it’s infectious.

5. Keep your heart open, especially when you don’t want to.

Don’t be tempted to close your heart when you’re feeling scared, hurt, tender or broken. Consciously choose to keep your heart open, even when you feel disillusioned with love. An open heart softens pain and transforms it into love.

Recently, I began dating again and was enjoying the rose-tinted joy of a fledgling relationship when he ended it before it had really begun. So I opened my heart to the confusion, sadness and disappointment and let myself feel it all. Instead of closing my heart to the feelings and defending myself from pain by deciding that dating was a waste of time, I embraced the tenderness of my emotions. By accepting pain instead of ignoring it, it could be felt and released. When we open our hearts to pain, we’re really opening our hearts to be transformed by love.

6. Have faith in your heart.

Trust your heart as much as you trust your mind. We’ve all been brought up to trust our logical minds more than our feeling hearts. Choosing to open our hearts means turning our awareness to feeling through our hearts, rather than purely trusting the thoughts in our minds.

We prevent ourselves from feeling our emotions by getting stuck in beliefs, ideas and stories about them. We might decide we have father issues or that we are overly self-critical or that our boss is a control freak. We can spend hours analysing what’s going on in our lives but we’re unlikely to find peace until we detach from the stories our minds tell us and focus on how we feel.

When tempted to analyse, over-think, judge or criticise, bring awareness back to your heart and focus on your breath instead. When we focus on how our heart feels rather than what our mind thinks, our heart naturally opens to love.

Follow these steps regularly and you’ll open your heart to more love than you could ever imagine.

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Editorial Assitant: Ola Weber/Editor: Bryonie Wise

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