‘Heart opening’, a little like ‘letting go’, always sounds so gentle and effortless like a rose unfurling its petals on a warm summer’s morning when in reality it is more often like the undamming of a raging river held back for a lifetime.
I can still vividly remember the first time I was consciously invited to become aware of my heart. It was 2015 and I was three years sober and mid-way through my year long yoga teacher training. I was attending multiple classes a week to try out different teachers and styles of yoga and meditation. This particular class was a meditation class led by an incredibly soft and gentle woman. We closed our eyes and she invited us to connect to a feeling of love by thinking of someone we loved without complications. I felt broken. I sat there feeling numb, unable to think of a single person in the world I loved without complications. I ended up choosing my childhood dog because it seemed to be the only way in.
At 26 years old I had no idea how to access my heart and I certainly wasn’t going to get there by back bending or doing a ‘metta meditation’. Sure these things can help to undo a little armour and invite some connection but if your body has completely shut out all feeling in the name of self-preservation then this isn’t going to be enough. But it’s a start.
‘We are born as pure light, our very life sustained by the beating heart that is here to guide and inform us. But because life is imperfect, in our very first moments of being alive, we discover that the needs of our hearts could not always be met. Pain and sorrow began to pool inside of us, and in our desperation not to feel this pain and to protect our tenderhearted nature, we abandoned the one place within us intended to be our safe-hold. We orphaned the part of us that flows with the current of life itself. We turned from our tender heart and entered the mind, neglecting to come back and care for this crucial and elemental aspect of our being’ ~ Sarah Blondin, Heart Minded
I see now reflecting back that my heart has been unfurling in layers and that it is a piece of forever work to keep the dust from settling.
When we turn from the heart and let the dust settle we harden to life and in order to soften again we must first unearth the feelings that drove us to shutting down in the first place, feelings that become trapped between the layers of protection.
My most vivid memory of unearthing trapped emotion was when I ran my first yoga retreat in the Lake District in 2017. One evening before everyone arrived me and one of my best friends took a walk down to the lake in the evening...
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