March 2, 2016

A Powerful, Heartfelt Practice for Moments of Anger & Pain.

James Douglas/Unsplash

There I was, standing in the shower, fists clenched, jaw tight, flames surging in my heart, steam surrounding me like a cruel fog.

Maybe I thought the hot water would soothe my bubbling anger. Maybe I thought the smell of my lavender jasmine soap would make the electric irritability I had been feeling all day magically evaporate.

It didn’t.

I felt like I wanted to scream. Every muscle in my body grew tighter, more tense, more frustrated, increasingly irritated by the second. Every sound was too loud. Even the trickling of water splashing on the shower floor felt wildly annoying. My breath grew quicker, panicked almost, and I began to feel suffocated, squeezed, as the water beat down like a wild rain, pelting my back with a dollop-sized pitter-pattering droplets.

But then, in a moment of surprising grace, I did something.

I put my hands over my heart.

And I took a breath.

Immediately, I started crying. My flames shifted, became saltwater. The sincere tenderness of my hands cupping my beating heart brought forth a gushing bouquet of tears. One by one, as each tear slid out of my eyes, it brought a sweet ocean of relief, and as I cried, a curtain went up inside.


The tears revealed a dusty place of gossamer vulnerability, a place of shaky tenderness, a delicate place inside I had been hiding from. There was grief. Sadness. Fragility.

As I cried, with my hands on my heart, I realized that I had not been angry at all. No, anger would have been easier. It would have felt more familiar; it would have made me feel strong and capable. It would have been far more comfortable.

I had actually been feeling vulnerable all day—shaky, uncertain, see-through, like I was stitched of gossamer beads.

And, vulnerability? Hell, it’s easily the most terrifying thing in the world.

But inside each one of us, there is a thread of deep, magnificent tenderness, and our human hearts are strong because of this fragility, not in spite of it. The fact that our hearts can break is beautiful; it’s a nod to our exquisite humanity. The fact that we feel so much is a gift, and don’t you dare call it a curse.

Sometimes, it seems easier to cover up our vulnerability with a shield of flames or a jagged wall of brittleness. We make ourselves harsh, faux-strong, pretending we don’t give a f*ck when, really, we do.

But that’s not easier—it’s fake.

There is no shame in giving a ton of f*cks and caring a lot. There is no shame in being tender. There is no shame in having a soft heart.

So often, we run around, coming up with all these clever ideas to avoid being vulnerable. To avoid being human. To avoid the imminent pain of breaking.

But the truth is, sometimes, we just need to break.

And in that moment in the shower, I broke. I broke open. I broke brilliantly. I broke through my own wall of bullsh*t. I broke, and I let go, just a little bit.

I crumbled in my own arms, and gently loved every piece that fell away.

I stood in my softness, and it breathed new life into me.

It was subtle; that’s what made it so wonderful. It was like a whisper in the wind that kissed my cheek and rattled something deep inside. As I stood there in silence, as the water dripped over me, tears still draining down my cheeks, I felt just a little bit transformed, just a little bit different, and I smiled, because it was so messy, so raw, so deliciously real.

When you’re angry, when your hands are clenched, when tension burrows into your muscles, when your flames could swallow you whole, when pain or grief is throbbing like dynamite under your skin—meet yourself there.

Put your hands on your heart.

And breathe.

It’s so simple, it’s so damn simple, but that’s what makes it such a powerful practice.

Nurture yourself. Maybe you are really angry. Maybe those surging flames are the sacred medicine you need. Or, maybe, like me, you’ll find treasures of tenderness in tears.

Whatever you feel, wherever you are right now, meet yourself there. Be present for everything that’s swimming in your heart. Often, when we need our own support and nourishing the most, that’s exactly when we turn our backs on ourselves.

Don’t turn away.

Turn inward instead.

Place your hands over your heart.

Even if it feels uncomfortable. Especially if it feels uncomfortable.

And breathe.

Come home to yourself. Come home to your truth.

Because becoming a warrior, becoming a bada**, becoming strong—it’s not so much about becoming unbreakable.

Oh, no, so often it’s about bowing down to the breaking. To the tears. To the rippling pull of discomfort. To the crashing, falling apart and letting go.

Because really, what is more challenging than to relax in the face our suffering?

What’s scarier than allowing our pain inside, siting patiently with it, and not trying to make it instantly dissolve?

To be a true warrior is to surrender. To be achingly patient with ourselves.

To crumble. To cry. To trust the wild, mysterious beauty in the process. To be exquisitely gentle with our hearts as we collapse and unfold and rebuild, brick by brick, tear by tear.

Becoming a warrior is not numbness; it is not apathy. It is to know firsthand the stinging pain of a broken heart. It is to be wildly intimate with vulnerability and befriend those little places inside that whisper with quiet aching.

Yes, being a warrior is to be brave enough to explore the truth in this moment.

One breath at a time.

One heartbeat at a time.


Relephant Read:

The Juice in Vulnerability: 2 Practices to Help us Stay There.


Author: Sarah Harvey

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: James Douglas/Unsplash


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