“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.”
There’s a vague memory in my soul of a time when we knew, wholeheartedly, that pain meant growth and wisdom and opportunity.
That in order to know yourself, you must let your heart break open. Over. And over. And over again.
And it wasn’t until you felt that you might lose your heart altogether, that you would truly know your deepest self. It was through our darkest moments that we found light and love and the capacity of our own openness.
I remember a time in my life when I thought that I had actually avoided heartbreak. Though it was naive, I thought that I was guaranteed a life free from emotional suffering, because I was in an eternal safe box, with someone who was supposed to be my life partner.
Alas, my heart was eventually broken, and I thought there was no way I could survive the pain. I remember realizing I hadn’t left the same place in my apartment for an entire week. When friends began coming over just to make sure I would eat I realized how badly I was losing myself.
I lost 25 pounds in three weeks. Anytime I would step onto my yoga mat, I would break down and sob. Many moons later I realized that all those times, I was still practicing yoga.
Every time I broke down and felt as though the ground was getting ripped out from under me, and that my spirit was evaporating, I was actually getting to know myself—she was a girl whose story had not been told yet. After she doubted everything she had ever known about life and love and loss, she found that she was humble, but her ambitions were enormous.
She had felt pain so deep that she eventually found love and she wanted nothing more than to share it.
She pondered what security meant and came to realize that the truest love she could have was her own, and that only when she loved herself fully, could she really love another.
Every time she sobbed on her yoga mat and thought she was bad for not being able to do asana, she began to see that she was on the path of the deepest self practice she’d ever known. Albert Camus once wrote:
“’Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.”
We want to avoid pain because we’re afraid of what it will mean when we see ourselves fully.
When we are in pain, we’re vulnerable to ourselves, to our own minds. What will it mean when we’re not defined by someone or something or accomplishments? What’s left?
I believe that when we strip away all the surface stuff that our lives are made of, all of the factors of our identity, all the ideas that we’ve created about ourselves, we are left with our true nature—love.
I don’t think we can truly know our own love unless we break first.
We want to protect our hearts and we think that by keeping them safe, we’re doing something good, by avoiding pain. But in reality we’re losing the opportunity to truly get to know ourselves, and the part of us that really knows love.
So let’s allow ourselves to break; feel hurt when it’s there. Not check out when we see the dark. Let it be there so we can find our way back to the light. And keep coming back.
What is there to lose once we know we’ve broken? Absolutely nothing. That is where we find true love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr / Chelsea Gomez