Opening the Heart

Photo & painting by Victoria Constantino

We hear a lot about opening our hearts, but what does it really mean and how do we do it? Opening the heart can be a very different experience for each one of us, but ultimately, opening the heart is about allowing ourselves to feel what we hold within. All of the emotions—the pain, the joy, the heartache, the loneliness, the happiness, the excitement, the thrill of being alive—all of it. If our hearts have been closed for a while, it can be challenging to know where to begin. When we allow ourselves to feel what is there, we may have a lot of unpleasant emotions to work through. Emotional release is an important part of the process. Usually, when we close our hearts, we are shuttering it against the pain and the things we don’t want to feel, look at, or deal with. We may have been so busy or focused on other aspects of our lives that we haven’t taken time for ourselves in…how long? That phrase we hear so often, “doing the work,” sounds hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some places to start:

  1. Write out your feelings. You can burn the paper as a symbol of release or write everything out in a journal.
  2. Go out into nature and let your heart have its say. Really listen.
  3. Spend time with animals.
  4. Connect with people who make you feel—whether they inspire you, bring you joy, or make you laugh.
  5. Laughter is the best medicine.
  6. Meditate. Don’t force, flow. Allow your mind to quiet and become a receiver. You may be surprised to hear, or feel, your heart speak when the mind is silent.
  7. Spend time in self-care. This can mean a lot of things, from physical routines to listening to music. When you focus on simply caring for your body and mind, it brings cleansing, purification, and renewal.
  8. Listen to music that moves you. If you play an instrument, play to your heart’s content. Lose yourself in the music. Really feel it.
  9. If you are artistically inclined, paint, sculpt, craft, draw. Do whatever it is you do and flow.
  10. Getting into the flow state is a powerful way of attuning to our core essence. Some achieve it through listening to music, others through physical activity like dance and running, and others from creating art. There are many ways to get into the flow state. However you access it, you will know when you get there. Hours go by that feel like minutes. You become so completely absorbed in something that you lose all sense of time and your physical location. You are simply one with your focus.

Many, if not all, of the above are not only ways of opening the heart, but also ways of healing. That isn’t so surprising. The heart is powerful. It’s where the soul resides. It’s the center of our being-ness and the throne of our core essence. It is a treasure trove, an endless cave of wonders just waiting to be explored. There may be shadows to face before we can enter the splendor of the cave, but they are paltry in comparison to the magnificence that awaits us. Those shadows are well worth confronting; they don’t like being looked at anyway, and dissipate when we face them. Once we gain safe passage to the beauty that lies within us, we have taken the first step to the most beautiful and rewarding journey we will ever take.

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