keeping an open heart

Keeping An Open Heart — What could be a more appropriate message for Valentine’s Day than Keeping An Open Heart?  But how do we keep an open heart?  What does it even mean?  I know for sure that it’s a biggie for me.  

Backing up a little: you probably already know from previous blogs, that I tend to be judgmental, critical, defensive, reactive, dismissive… 🙂  The list of the less than savoury ego traits is long.  Not that I’m alone, but the shared humanness of our structures doesn’t lesson the truth of the situation.  I feel so grateful to have a spiritual path (the Diamond Approach) that incorporates a big chunk of psychological work…at times like therapy, with a deep underpinning of what’s really essential.  And as I’ve had a chance to explore the roots, sources, manifestations of the hurts that are impressed into my psyche, my heart, I found, to my chagrin, that my heart is often kinda closed.  

keeping an open heart

What’s it like to have a closed heart? It’s like a barrier goes up — like I put up an invisible, but perceptible shield around my heart… It’s protected, or at least that’s what I think.  It’s ironic that in trying to protect my “self”, my heart, what I’m doing is not defending against the hurt, but shutting down my feelings, creating a kind of emotional dead zone, that actually hurts more than it helps.   The wall I’ve created not only doesn’t really do the job of keeping out the hurt, it has limited the love I can give, my capacity for caring, allowing, accepting.  

Keeping an open heart?  So how in the big wide world can you “do” that?  Well, like so many things in the world of emotions, spirit, psyche, “doing” is not where it’s at.  I’m happy to say that what I described above, is largely in the past.  Being able to keep an open heart has kind of crept up on me.  Slowly but steadily I am discovering that even when I feel misunderstood, even when I feel judgemental (!), I find that I’m not shutting down or struggling to defend.  I can feel it now.  I can take a breath, feel a kind of dissolving, a softness, toward myself and others, that is suspiciously like an open heart!  Not defending, not putting up barriers.

As I have learned over the years to stay with my experience, to actually let the stings sting, the hurts hurt, and be able to watch them, not totally identify and be them, this has let me soften, stay open to myself, and others.  And it’s been a lovely surprise to feel how my open heart is growing, able to take in and hold it all, the good, the bad, the ugly… (at least more of the time!)  

keeping an open hear

Rick Hanson wrote a lovely piece recently called “Put No One Out of Your Heart”, which describes beautifully some skillful means for keeping an open heart.  How appropriate for Valentine’s Day!  

And check out the offering at EarthSky: Reasons We Fall in Love 🙂.   And a rich and helpful piece from The Greater Good Science Center:  How Science Can Help Your Love to Last.  And from Don Riso of the Enneagram Institute: some lovely loving tips about Love!

Real love is liberating for oneself and breaks old boundaries and restrictions.

Real love seeks nothing for itself but is not self-forgetting.

Real love is transparent and does not come from premeditation.

Real love does not recapture the past nor does it guarantee the future.

Real love is not clung to even though it heals all old wounds.

Real love is not afraid of taking risks nor is it about feeling safe.

Real love is endlessly generative and cannot run out.

Real love can suffer hurt and rejection and not strike out.

Real love is something we already have, although we often do not know it.

What makes us human is opening our heart and our ability to love. 

Here’s to Keeping an Open Heart!  Happy Valentine’s Day and beyond!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook 

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