These days, many of us feel a longing, fundamental need for more intimate connectivity within our life, relationships and pursuits—and an important element to this deeper experience of living is the opening of our heart.
An open heart allows us to feel included in our environment, to see the interplay between us and our surroundings. It allows us to go deeper into our inner sphere and experience the melody of the birds, the dance of the breeze and the hum of human conversation.
An open heart allows us to feel the inflow of love expressed from another. A touch pulsing within our heart as the richness of a bond between two weaves its tapestry.
An open heart allows us to feel a sense of relevancy within our daily activities. A knowing, deep within our cells, that what we engage in matters. We are alive with excitement and awe over what develops from our contribution.
When painful events occur, this beautiful way of living can become blocked. The wounds that result create cement-filled walls that become a protective barrier around our hearts. Often, our hearts need time in this protection to heal and this time is important for us to honor.
However, there is a difference between healing and deterioration. Healing is a mending of wounds, a pathway that brings us to a natural state of well-being and an openness to life.
Deterioration occurs when we shut down. This subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, tearing down of our ability and willingness to engage in living.
Healing is the invisible hands that sew and mend the fractures that occurred.
Deterioration is the continual spread and widening of those wounds.
Healing leads and gently guides us to life.
Deterioration draws us farther away from life.
We must ask ourselves, “Is the path I am on leading me to heart-felt engagement or is the path eroding my ability to feel?
Because after such a wound occurs, how do we open our heart?
It begins with willingness and gentle nurturing. Have you ever noticed how a flower opens and blooms? It doesn’t blast out of the ground, but instead begins as a bud and unfolds its delicate petals to the world. This is similar to our own opening: a delicate unfolding that can be done through the practice of receiving.
Because a closed heart affects our entire ecosystem, the first step in the practice of receiving is to prepare our mind, body and heart—to inform, reassure and train the “being-ness” of us that it is okay to receive.
We are in a raw state when we begin to re-open our heart, and we need our time and attention. Like an artist prepares raw materials to create, our efforts to prepare ourselves to receive create a lasting foundation.
The following are two exercises I’ve used to prepare myself to receive and to re-open my once closed heart. Before you begin, ensure that you’re in a safe and private space to respect your heart’s vulnerable nature.
For the first exercise, open one or both of your hands with your palms facing up. Gently roll your fingers in to rest against your palm as if you were just given something precious to hold onto. Pause here a moment and notice how you respond.
Does your body feel tense? What thoughts arise? What’s the pace of your heart rate?
This exercise may seem simple, but the subtleness highlights the resistance and awkwardness you may feel when receiving. For me, I felt that I needed to first do something in order to receive—that I had to earn my right to receive.
This small hand movement showed me how awkward receiving is for me. How difficult it was for me to hold my hand closed and keep what I had been given. At first, my hand literally quivered with the want to open back up.
I needed to spend time giving myself permission to receive and believing that what I received could remain with me.
The second exercise is another subtle awareness builder. With your arms outstretched in front of you and your hands open, slowly draw your palms in towards your heart. Pay attention to how your heart reacts as your hands come closer. Pause if you start to feel your heart space tense up.
The idea is that you are able to bring your open hands all the way to your chest and rest there, allowing what you receive to land fully in your heart. What is imperative however, is that you honor where your heart is, explore further when and where resistance occurs and then gently foster your heart to open.
When you practice this second exercise and feel your heart begin to constrain, move your hands back out to where your heart feels more relaxed and rest there. Rest wherever you feel the most open at the time and then bring the exercise to completion for the day.
These exercises can help you communicate further with your inner world—allow your body to tell you when you are resistant to receiving. The awareness you gain gives you the opportunity to explore further what may be holding you back or blocking your ability to receive.
When you feel resistance, ask if the resistance is with a specific person or group, under certain circumstances or with certain types of expression from another, such as an expression of love, a compliment about your work or a physical gift.
This doesn’t mean we need to receive everything that comes our way. An important part of the process to re-open our heart is to maintain our power of discernment and choose what is in our best interest.
There was a time when my heart was buried behind steel walls. As I’ve fostered my heart open, there are still moments when my heart jumps behind a little tree. Sometimes this occurs if within a short time span, I’ve engaged in many activities where I feel vulnerable and exposed. During moments like this, I ask myself, “What can I do for myself today to encourage my heart to open?”
The other day I experienced such a reaction, and the message I heard was to take a nap and allow my heart time to catch up with my spirit’s willingness to receive.
And it is this willingness that we can continue to come back to. When our hearts feel scared, we must remind the scared parts of ourselves to deepen our experience of living and receive the beauty within our surroundings, relationships and pursuits.
Then ask ourselves, “What can I do for myself today to encourage my heart to open?” And, listen.
Author: Kaitlyn Mirison
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Austin Ban/Unsplash