May 24, 2017

Five Ways to Keep our Hearts Open when they Feel Broken.

The fragility we feel after loss is real, but the potential for healing and renewal is even stronger.

When we are fresh from heartbreak, it may be hard to see what lies in the future. It may seem impossible to think we can trust again. If we were deeply in love, the end of a relationship can feel like a death.

When life delivers us these shattering events, something happens on a much higher level. It’s at these times that we stand at a crossroads. Are we going to keep our hearts open? Are we going to trust that life is not just the light, but also the dark? Will we see the continuum of experience and move through it with self-love and grace?

We all have a story.

It is the story of our past, our present, and the journey we are taking toward our future. The relationship we have with that story is incredibly important. No matter what it is, we have to embrace it. If we judge and reject who we are, where we’ve been, and the person we want to be, we can’t connect with another person.

1. Feel your emotions.

It’s important to feel your emotions, totally. Repressed grief can fester and manifest as anger, depression, and disconnection from your authentic self. Osho, an East Indian spiritual teacher, said, “If you’re going to be something, be it 100 percent.” So, if you are going to be angry, be 100 percent angry. If you are going to be happy, be 100 percent happy. Whatever you feel or do, experience it 100 percent. There is great wisdom in that concept. If you want to eliminate something, acknowledge it 100 percent, and then release it 100 percent.

2. Practice the the art of detachment.

It is not easy to lose someone or something, but if you want to learn how to process loss in a way that leaves you stronger and more evolved, you must practice the art of detachment.

Detachment does not mean you are uncaring, that you go on your merry way with ease, or that you never experience grief. Detachment encompasses all of your feelings, but then lets them go—in the same way you let the person or thing that you lost leave with acceptance. You cannot hold on to what is impermanent, which is everything in your life. Your mind is all that you can control.

3. Make transience your friend.

When something we thought was constant and unshakable changes, and we are shocked and devastated, sometimes questioning the belief system we held leading up to the shift would be helpful. It is a mistake to think that things will not happen that we don’t want to happen! Impermanence may seem harsh, but it is an embodiment of the beautiful nature of our existence. You must make transience your friend. Be mindful of your sadness and grief. Missing someone or something is part of the process, but how you carry on is just as important.

4. Have a mindful anchor.

Losing someone or something big can catapult us back and forth from the past, where we have our memories, to the future, where we grapple with the absence of that person or situation. Having a mindful anchor—that centers you—can provide a structure to help stand upon. Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment. If we integrate its practice into our daily lives, we are better equipped to face grief and the healing process. Going through the stages of grief, with the tools of awareness and mindful observation, will help you fully feel, accept, and move forward when there is loss.

When we are mindful, we allow every sensation and emotion to move through us, in whatever way they need to manifest.

5. Be willing to mend your heart.

The fragility you feel after loss is real, but the potential for healing and renewal is even stronger. If you want to live life as fully as we all deserve to, you have to muster the willingness to mend your heart. It might be glued together for quite some time, but you can start to experience happiness, hope, and connection with it in that state of repair. And remember, often, it is through the cracks that light shines through the most.

Love can be deeper than the ocean but it is not about needing someone to be alive. We each have our story in this existence. We cannot grasp on to a different reality from the one that is meant to be. Life is gain and loss. And accepting this is the path to self-love.

Author: Derek O’Neill
Image: Jo Amelia Finlay Bever/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Derek O’Neill