Opening Up The Heart
"We all cycle through the wall, the crisis, the opening of our heart, and the discovery of our kinship. No one has ever been you, but compassion lets us wash into each other like watercolors." ~ Mark Nepo
These past several weeks I have been in various situations where my compassion has been needed. And I have struggled to give it, awashed instead in my judgments, opinions, anger, and frustrations. It took me several moments to understand that something essential was missing as I flailed about with my heart burning.
It is easy to talk a good game about love and grace, kindness and compassion. It suddenly struck me in the gut just how much these are practices to be lived—especially when it’s difficult —not simply read about, talked about, journaled about, or even meditated upon. I realized I’d been reading and thinking about these when what had been brought before me were opportunities to do the work of practicing them.
Our interactions with others form the practice room. Like master teachers, these relationships provide us with the opportunity to fully live into our values and who and how we say we long to be. Who we’re being guided into becoming if we pay close attention. And how our hearts can reveal the beauty of our essential selves, pulsing underneath the hard shell of our egos, fear, and anxiety. This is how we become; how we are transformed.
And this is not to say that we deny the agitation that needs our care and attention. But it is possible with intention to access energies within ourselves to meet our internal or external agitation — no matter the source of it —with strength and clarity. We must make time to do this, not as in a “To Do” list, but being still long enough to explore the wall(s) that we sense constricts our heart, shutting it down. Perhaps connecting with the wisdom of others who help us to see the fallacy of what we feel so certain of.
For me in this instance it has meant confronting and shaking loose the rigidity I stand in with my opinions and judgments, and instead committing to brave space, doing no harm to myself or others, and living out love. Seeing what living out compassion truly means, so that these are not merely intellectual or even spiritual concepts. But are alive in a pulse of energy pumping and coursing through me and to those in need of what I might offer.
These past few weeks have not always revealed who I imagine myself to be, but what I must confront and work through to open up my heart. So that my open heart is itself not an idea, but a lived reality.