Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is what it means to have an open heart. This is no real surprise in February, the month full of reminders about love, and that I will be leading a workshop on just this topic next week. Heart shaped everything, flowers, red and pink galore filling the aisles and inboxes. There have been many years where I am unenthusiastic about Valentine's Day, chocking it up as a Hallmark created holiday that brings more pressure than relief to people in regards to their love life. This year is different. I am noticing the abundance of love all around me. This has come with a pretty simple shift: I have broadened my love definition. The advertising and decor has not changed. My perspective has. Expanding the idea of love from the romantic kind (that this month commonly brings into sharp focus) into the universal kind has opened my heart in new ways. With this shift in focus, I am really enjoying this month with all its splendor and taffeta. Stepping back from the idea that romantic love and partnership is the end all be all for happiness (yes, I am popping that fantasy bubble yet again), that anyone not in a relationship is excluded from having fun this month (false!), is a pastime. Acting on these beliefs will surely close the heart.
It is natural to close the heart, especially when there has been hurt. I know this as much as anyone. Who hasn't felt disappointment, loneliness, heartache, sadness, despair and frustration about love? There is a time for stepping away from the buzz of the world, going within, licking our wounds, shedding tears and nurturing the inner self. Closing the heart can be an act of protection and safety. It is when the heart stays closed, caring for the self turns into hiding from the world, and the mind shuts to new possibility that life lacks vitality and meaning. From here, a closed heart becomes a death sentence of sorts. We must reopen to life, dare to experience love again, and step out from the familiar realm of isolation. When it is closed, there is no space for healing to enter. When the heart is open, healing happens and joy can flow easily.
Making peace with where you are, single (or "an individual" as my dear friend Lura once proclaimed) or in a romantic relationship or satisfying partnership with another person, is a step in the direction of enjoying this day dedicated to love. Acknowledging the pressure this season can bring about how things "should be" and choosing to see from another angle can lead to a place of softening, a liberation, an open heart. I know it has for me. This relaxing into what is has put me in the perfect position to see the many ways love is present in my life. This shift in perspective has become a wonderful game of noticing the love and joy strewn throughout the world right now. The smiles on my nieces' faces, laughter with co-workers, the curiosity of my dog, growing gardens, bundled up walks on the beach, gorgeous sunsets, jumping in puddles during the rain, the door held open by a stranger, holding my Grammi's hand, the list goes on.
In asking the question, “What does it mean to have an open heart?" these are just some of the answers that come to mind. When I look at love from the lens of daily miracles, things that bring me a sense of comfort and connection are countless. There is more than enough, more proof of love and reasons to be than I can count. There is so much love, to give and to receive. With an open heart, I am taking notice of the beauty and joyous potential in current situations and circumstances, counting blessings and celebrating the experiences within life now. From this perspective, I have stepped into a kind of romance I didn't know possible. I am letting life love me and I am loving it. I am choosing to have an open heart. What about you?
Is your heart open to enjoy how love is present in your world today? What will it take to open your heart and let luscious love in a little bit more?
If you want to open your heart more today and need a boost, here are some of my go to's you might try:
- ask different questions
- look at familiar things with new eyes
- act as if you are what you want to be
- wear something fancy "just because"
- be with animals
- be with children
- just laugh
- order something new on the menu
- move that body: yoga, dance, etc.
Living with an open heart is a courageous act. There are risks of saying Adios to shutting life out. The satisfaction, bliss and joyful play that come when we open up make the potential risks worth taking. Don't you agree?
Love is all around,
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas