Our hearts are hidden behind hard layers like nuts inside a shell. In some cases the shell is softer, as with peanuts. In others, it is almost impenetrable, as is the case with walnuts. But, as they say, every nut can be cracked
The heart never ages. The organ that contains our true nature may deteriorate, but our true nature, our heart of hearts, never does. It is a person’s heart that we feel in our day to day interactions. It is a warm heart that reels us in and a cold heart that turns us off. It is a heart of gold that we admire and a heart of coal that we fear. The heart is a physical manifestation of who we are; our Shiny Souls. It is our connection to what creates and sustains each of us.
When I was training in Bowen Therapy, the most powerful procedure we learned is called the Thoracic Procedure. It is effective enough to stop an angina attack. It is so powerful that it is not used until an individual is ready for the major impact it can have on their lives. With just a few moves, the act of releasing the entire thoracic area – the heart’s protection – is like lifting an elephant from the chest. A person must be emotionally, psychologically and spiritually prepared to live with an exposed, tender heart. In many cases, it is a heart they may not have had access to for years or decades, even lifetimes. It can be hard to know how to deal with that kind of rawness. You’ve often heard the expression, “as tender as my heart”, to describe a painful bruise, hang nail or cut. That is because there is nothing more tender than the centre of who and what we are in this physical world – our heart.
When I first began mediating, my hand would spontaneous go to my chest and pound in a steady manner, sometimes aggressively, as if to coax my heart into a rhythm. Tears flowed freely and I became aware that I was literally crying to break my heart. Within days, the raised arc of my breast bone, which had always protruded in a way that reminded me of a bird, flattened before my eyes. It occurred to me that what I had always assumed was part of my figure – an unalterable aspect of my genetics – was the result of storing my emotions. My breastbone was like a purse packed full with useless crap.
Mudder and other women in my extended family had the same shape to their breast bone. Like me, they’d spend years holding in their emotions; being strong for everyone, and not feeling entitled to their sadness, anger and rage. I wondered, had they felt as sensitive as I had as a child? When had they learned to turn off their emotions? What sort of legacy were we leaving to our descendants? And why, why did we feel the need to protect our hearts? From whom? For how long? Would we always rob ourselves of the peaceful, happy, joyful hearts that were our birthright.
While freeing my heart was an ongoing, slow process, it felt all-consuming. I’d never felt my emotions more intensely, especially when I would write song lyrics, raw and honest, to relieve some of the compression I felt. In my daily life, what I was feeling always seemed too big for the situation I was facing. Or, the emotion seemed to come out opposite to how I wanted it to. Life pushed in at me from all sides. And, I wondered if I was ever going to feel normal again. To me, it was like deep sea diving. I was afraid of being crushed by the weight of it. And I feared that I might bail on myself, head for the surface and cause myself permanent damage. Like with the bends, I might never regain my equilibrium.
When I received Reiki, Craniosacral, Heilkunst and Bowen treatments, over the years, it never ceased to amaze me how much more there is that I must release from my heart. Just when I think my heart is safe, free from the fear I’ve placed in it every day with my thoughts and beliefs, I have an upheaval that cracks open a new layer. A new depth of compassion for me, and by extension, for everyone and everything is revealed.
It took me a long time to understand that my soft heart, the one I had begun to constrict as a child, and only explore in my writing, was my greatest gift. And, going forward, I had to learn to protect it from hardened, embittered hearts. Equally as important, I had to commit to sharing it with people that cared. I knew that my job was not to change my heart. It was not lacking. But I needed to excavate it; uncover all of the toxic waste I had dumped on it.
Feeling sad is not the hallmark of a broken heart. Feeling nothing is. As long as you can feel, and let your emotions flow, there is movement and the opportunity to heal. But not all expressions that seem to come from the heart are of the heart. Anger and sadness are not true expressions of the heart. While it is healthy and necessary to release anger and sadness on our chest, it is helpful to know that those emotions are not coming from our heart. We are not damaged, broken, wrong or ungrateful. We are traumatized and have formed shells over our hearts in an attempt to protect ourselves. Our hearts do not truly know anger and sadness although those emotions weigh heavily on our chests. Our hearts are nothing but pure love.
Because we are human, of course we get angry, and it is next to impossible to live with a pure heart, it is nevertheless important to allow ourselves to aspire to revealing the Truth – the endless source of love that lies within our hearts. Energy therapies and meditations have helped me with that. I have found the impact profound. I had no idea I had anger stored in me like cans of beans for winter until I started heaving it out of me and felt lightness fill in the space. For someone a bottled up as I was, treatments were necessary. And I needed the gentle guidance and love that a healer could offer me. They were like beacons – soft hearts for me to believe in.
My whole life, I’d been drawn to people with hearts that were darkened by their lives, their circumstances, their minds. I was surrounded by hearts that hid away behind insecurity, anger, bitterness or mistrust. I exhausted myself trying to coax out the soft little hearts that occasionally peeked out from behind the armor. And I allowed their damage to impact me; causing me to cover up my heart.
That fruitless cycle of trying to mend another’s broken heart melted away once I began revealing and embracing my own. Not only did my tender heart need me to protect it but I knew that thawing a frozen heart can only be done with intention and care by the person that chose to isolate their heart in the first place.
Now I see soft hearts everywhere. When I sense an open, trusting, faith-filled, glowing heart, I think, Hi there, good for you. Be brave sweetheart. Be brave.
Because I never want to have a hardened heart again, I ask myself all the time, am I identifying with the layers of pain covering my heart? Is that doing me any favors? Each day I try to release a little more of the fear, anxiety, sadness, grief, anger that can start to build up. That way, it is not as overwhelming to work through it and I feel connected to my Shiny Soul.
What do you do to break your heart open, even when it hurts?