I’ve been quite surprised at how everything around me influences me.
The overcast sky this morning and the frost on the meadow. My sweet daughter’s calls just to say “Hi,” how many views a blog gets, the bull in Washington’s china shop, what I eat and what I don’t eat—all of these things influence me.
So, what an incredible surprise a heart opening is! With it comes a whole new life.
I used to live in my head; I mostly ignored feelings except when they were extreme, like falling in love, a broken heart, watching my children be born or being deeply touched by the loss of my parents.
I swear, back in the old head-only days, I used to huff and puff and blow myself up from inside. I was independent, cocky and aloof. I imagined I was my own island, surrounded by my own ocean. I was hiding in my head, happy as a pearl in an oyster.
But then, when my heart opened wider, clear boundaries and borders melted away, as did ever being as sure as I used to be. It was often raining from the inside out at the slightest thing and magical explanations replaced logical ones with incantations of wonder nudging certainty way into the distance.
For many years, I sat on an egg called empathy. Well, it has hatched. Now I stand naked under the sun, or the moon, meditating or watching silly TV. I can’t hide, as I always used to, behind cleverness. I’m more obvious, with auricles and ventricles, rather than thoughts, playing a seductive jig.
I must have ordered this high heart because it is here. There is so much to feel. I whimper when it hurts and moan with pleasure too—clean sheets feel so good and I can still bike like the wind, peddling from my heart.
My heart is open 24/7, revealing that real presence is a conspiracy of head and heart.
My head’s still there. I still have thoughts, but none of them seem so serious. In fact, they are way more entertaining than they used to be. It seems there is nothing to prove and my heart offers relief from daily pressures and deadlines.
Actually, my thoughts have become quite adorable—rather than waking up in the middle of the night imagining that I will run out of time or money, I wonder when Emily, my daughter, will paint her 18-month-old daughter’s nails for the first time. Three days later, I get an excited call, letting me know that toenails have been painted. I hadn’t mentioned anything to Emily but our hearts seem to be naturally synchronized.
It seems there aren’t any negative thoughts anymore—my thoughts haven’t changed that much, but my reception to them has. Instead of waiting for the other shoe to fall, I’m wearing dancing shoes, often taking the longest route I can find because the journey offers such joy.
My steps for a heart opening:
Heart is always there, feeling and beating.
But sometimes, caught up in our thoughts, we don’t notice our hearts. We get so busy at work, trying to get the lid off the olives, trying to have less heartache or more money, that we forget how full, satisfied and loving we are.
Discovering my preference for thinking was a first step to opening my heart. Then, clever didn’t seem so clever and alone wasn’t how I wanted to live. Thinking I was smart became the booby prize.
The second step was opening to sensations, especially when faced with a decision. Hearts have a wisdom of their own, they don’t threaten like thoughts can. They are open and welcoming, providing a background of acceptance that navigates seas of vast possibilities without preference.
Step three for me was that I panicked. I went to a therapist seeking help. We spent an hour talking, after which she said, “Please keep me posted, I am very interested in hearing more about your incredible transformation.” I wanted her to tell me that I was broken and that she could fix me. No such luck, so I went to a cutting edge internist. He poked me a few times, asked me three questions and presented me with a psychotherapist’s card.
I didn’t go. And I stopped seeking help for my non-problem and got on with admitting that I am both head and heart.
The fourth step was coping with the overwhelming rush of sensations that accompanies a heart opening. And this meant learning to ground myself: to feel my feet on the floor, to spend time walking and talking to Mother Nature, keeping trees company and knowing that feeling is sometimes all we need to do.
With these initial heart openings, I experienced what I now call “low heart”—powerful, but still limited in love, which is the beginning of the heart journey. As the heart remains open, it expands, flowing ever wider, taller, stronger in love, leading to an ever higher, more loving heart.
The transition from low heart to high heart offers the experience of becoming love itself.
Heart, like the universe, is ever expanding!
It turns out, the head and heart are pals.
Heart just loves head, like a widow loves an orphan. Heart doesn’t ask for anything in return. She marvels at the antics, musings and entertainment quality of head. Heart welcomes an ever broadening range of thoughts, and has never met a thought it doesn’t like.
Head, meanwhile, uses heart like a muse, finally discovering the unconditional acceptance it has always sought.
Head and heart together set a life vibrating, humming an old familiar tune—the score of a life well lived and loved.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Image: Awkward Yeti
Editor: Catherine Monkman