“Keep breaking your heart until it opens.” - Rumi
The word “open” has always conjured, for me, scenes of expansive space, broad horizons, reception and exploration.
What I often forget is that, in such beautiful ways, the world works in contrasts, and they are often stark. Everything is cyclical, just like the tides and the phases of the moon, we go in and out of expansion and contraction.
So too, does the heart.
Openness is often provoked by an explosion, a sudden blast of heat, a disarming presence, or a situation that leaves you without much to say. In these times, we fear darkness. We forget about contrast. We beg for the light. In practice, we know that all things are temporary; we know that there is a symbiotic relationship between our perceived pain and our desired outcomes. There are always lessons in store.
The heart is a great teacher in this way. It leads us into depths we had no idea existed so far within us, it shows us the parts we pretend are not there, and waves them in our face.
The heart has its own intelligence, its own methods for exploration and teaching. It is at once its own entity, and an integrated leader with the other systems of the body and energy. Those who are tapped most fully into their ability to love (their heart energy), radiate this outward. It magnetizes. Other people can feel it, and even if not consciously, they are changed because of it.
We are impacting each other all of the time, in waves and great starts, in words and wordless interactions, in embraces and calculated mistreatments.
The choice remains to lead with the heart over the ego, when the aim is to have the most interesting life. The richest experience. The most irrefutable aliveness. The most comprehensive humanity.
There is an insistent bravery in living when you are broken open that is hard-pressed to be found elsewhere in many instances. Love is the fuel for so much of our experience, all of it, really, and we live and die to experience this ultimate alignment. We take passionate action and enraptured planning to an all time high in the quest for this vibration, this elevating form of pure source.
What is incorrigible information underneath it all is that we needn’t work so hard. We must simply surrender. Those of us on a spiritual or yogic path tend to resonate with this word on a variety of levels, but many of us who are drawn to exploring the outer limits of ourselves are born with a fierceness that can be quite unshakeable. We love challenge – of ourselves, of our beliefs, of our bodies, we love the opportunity to grow. What this can also mean is that we love to fight, we love to embody the warrior.
We think of the warrior as being emblematic of strength in compassionate warfare, but so often, being a warrior means laying down your arms.
In the greatest sense, to awaken the open heart, to invigorate your full potential, you must let the intensity and heat of leading with your heart burn off all of the other things that are getting in the way – like the desire to struggle.
Spiritual growth is so often like taking up residence in a furnace, in a cosmic bonfire imploding in on itself, the path is the undaunted ownership of one foot in front of the other, in the most stacked of flames.
When we answer the call to live fully, we accept that this means in great joy and in great sadness. When we welcome intensity, we trust that it means nothing is going to be subtle anymore. We learn to find stillness in this, on our mats, in our meditations, with our breath – yet, still, the experience of heightened awareness and sensation is there. It will always be there, as a reminder that we have bodies, yet we are not just bodies. We are interconnected and raw and vibrating and reaching out to each other without using our arms at all. We are walking force fields, little lightning bolts of everything imaginable, pared down and packaged into lovely vessels that can kiss and fuse.
If we choose the road less traveled, the one where we say “yes” to being wide open, we know that we are, in effect, choosing to be challenged. We are nodding our heads to being thrown and surprised as well as embraced and made warm. We are exclaiming with wide eyes and clapping our hands at the opportunity to face everything and rise.
Surrender is key. Persistence is necessary. Bravery is fuel. Courage is emblematic.
Awakening the open heart has very little to do with being undiscerning about where you throw your loving energy. It has much to do with being discerning about remaining open even when you feel like you have been grated clean and left in the rain. There is a lesson there, in that wetness. Each experience we have is simultaneously being had or has been had by everyone around us. It is impossible to feel alone in this, in the openness of being, in letting heart lead the way, in allowing it to be the guiding light and the conjurer of our everyday comings and goings, reachings and failings.
When we choose to rouse our open heart, to awaken her, to let her beat at the front lines – we are agreeing to an explosive, extraordinary life. We are agreeing to push past what we are often told is acceptable in terms of range of feeling.
We are consciously choosing to deviate from the mundane, the restricted, the oppressed, and the self-censored.
To be truly open hearted is to beat with the pulse of the divine, in light and dark, in challenge and ease, in acceptance and turmoil, and always in surrender to whatever may come.
The truly adventurous life leaves no stone unturned, and the path of the explorer begins with the commitment to grow wider between the ribs every day.