It occurred to me this morning during my meditation that in order to close the heart it takes effort. An open heart is relaxed open, whereas anything less than an open heart requires some degree of conscious or unconscious effort.
Another way of saying this is that the effortless state of an open heart is the natural one. An open heart is the heart in its natural state.
This is not to condone any intent to push the heart open, which is a common, usually unconscious intention in many spiritual communities.
The heart can only be invited open with gentleness and patience. Otherwise, imagine shouting at a flower to open before it is ready–that will be quite counterproductive.
Don’t try to convince the heart to open with mental logic either. The heart has an intelligence of its own, which doesn’t respond well to logic.
What the heart needs in order to relax back open and return to its natural glowing, undefended state is presence and awareness and patience.
An open heart also doesn’t necessarily imply naivety, as some may presume.
My hypothesis is that an open heart somehow lays the foundation for the development of wisdom, as it is the hub of the 4th chakra, while the 5th chakra in the throat is the blue ray of wisdom. An open heart also confers protection in a way I do not yet understand. I read about this in The Ra Material.
I’ve also read in some places that the best protection is an open heart. This is a bit difficult for me to believe, however this idea does strike a cord in me, and I’d like to believe it is true.
The Amartya teach that when we have truly given up our attachments and are genuinely standing in the glow of an undefended heart, our love becomes the medium for our actions, which would then be a direct expression of the sacred Self.
I imagine that if I were to keep an open, undefended heart, that I would occasionally encounter intense pain, when people act in a hurtful way or maybe when they simply don’t offer me the presence, patience and understanding that I would like extended towards me, which inevitably is a part of life.
What I’m learning from this, and what I’m intending to practice is to keep an open heart anyway, knowing that it is effort to keep the heart closed and defended; trusting that in the process, my wisdom will grow in order to avoid increasingly more often situations which would be harmful and to create increasingly more often situations which would be helpful for my harmonious growth and evolution.
And when others fail to “be there” for me, when they do not offer me the presence, patience, understanding, skillfulness, or whatever it may be which I would like for them to offer me, I trust that I will be there for myself.
I choose to be present, patient, and understanding with myself, regardless of others’ actions, and to develop the skillfulness in myself which I may find necessary for my growth and evolution–for my growing senses of love, joy and peace.
When I’m Disappointed In Others Or In Myself
I know others will continue to let me down in various expected or unexpected ways, and I use these opportunities to compassionately learn about what I can or cannot rely on different people for. Not in a condemning way, but in a wise way, so that I can navigate and create my life more masterfully.
Despite doing my best, I may still encounter pain. It is helpful for me to remember that painful situations I encounter are opportunities for me to learn and grow. I choose to ask with humility, “What can I learn from this situation?”
I don’t see why any of this would require me to close my heart.
And when I fail myself, to be present or patient or understanding “enough” with myself, then I know that the sacred Self is there for me, and forgives me before I’ve forgiven myself, with infinite compassion, patience, presence and understanding.
I can relax back into that every time.
And simply do my best in the meantime.
My belief is that heaven and hell are experiences here on Earth, and we participate in the creation of these experiences based on our Divinely creative capacity, as children of the One Infinite Creator, the only thing that exists, which expresses Itself in infinite forms.
How effectively we create our hellish or heavenly experience has to do with our awareness of our creative capacities and our willingness and ability to align with Divine Law in our thoughts, words and actions. This is learned and cultivated through practice, which we can do as students of Life.
I would say that Divine Law is written in our hearts.
Not necessarily our guts or our heads, although the information in every part of our body is useful and important in its role. But Divine Law is in our hearts. And it’s a discovery: learning to attune to it because we have been so deeply conditioned and blinded to forget, and there are many distortions and inversions and half-truths being thrown at us from every angle. But it’s there in our hearts, we just need to keeping seeking it.
Without hell there would be no heaven, just as without darkness there would be no such thing as light. Hot/Cold, Masculine/Feminine, etc.
This polarity creates an opportunity to make a choice. We have the gift of free will.
We can continually make this archetypal choice about how we live our lives in our thoughts, words and actions, and how we will serve the One Infinite Creator.
How much will we choose to serve others, to forgive ourselves and others as well as life itself for being the way that it is? Would you forgive even the Devil himself? Will we choose to practice compassion? Or, on the other hand, will we choose to keep our hearts hard, to serve our own egos and to amass power and control?
This choice, especially in the long run, influences whether we experience heaven or hell here now.
This earth has been through many hellish millennia, but it is experiencing an awakening. Things are still quite rough, but the remembering is finally here. And as a globe in general, we are on an irreversible course to transform this earth into the Eden our hearts know is real. Some will join, others will not.
Heaven is a place on earth when we practice forgiveness, acceptance of life, and service toward others. Through this practice, we remember our Divine, inalienable perfection, and the life we experience is transformed.
The heart is pure
A couple notes that may make more sense to those from a strong Judeo-Christian background:
My belief is that those hardened places of hate and revenge and “desperate wickedness” Jeremiah wrote about (from the book of Jeremiah in the Bible) are not the true heart. Those are the things that harden the heart, but the actual heart, beneath the evil is pure and innocent and full of unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. The actual heart is not wicked at all. To the extent one forgives and allows fear to be dissolved in the light of indestructible truth, one realizes and experiences the purity of the heart. Love actually does conquer all.
Unconditional love includes boundaries
And another critical aspect of all of this is that strong boundaries are necessary for the sustenance of an abundant life, and forgiveness and unconditional love does not mean lowering our boundaries. Love and compassion *from a distance* could be unconditional love plus wisdom. Unconditional love does not necessarily mean martyrdom or self-sacrifice. That’s only one potential manifestation of unconditional love, and not necessarily wise in all circumstances.
And another way to look at this, for example, just because God loves us unconditionally doesn’t mean It compromises Its boundaries because maybe we ask it to do so. Unconditional love includes boundaries.
Love (with boundaries 😉 )
Sometimes the cashier doesn’t make eye-contact and tells you to have a nice day in a tone of voice that sounds more like a thinly veiled “go to hell.”
Sometimes a customer or a coworker communicates in an off-putting way. Where I thought I deserved appreciation, I received reprimand.
The mail doesn’t come on time. The dishwasher stops working… You get the gist.
We all run into these mundane “obstacles” in our lives.
Yesterday I experienced a bit of pain with someone where I thought I deserved appreciation and instead I received reproach.
I see where I was not prepared for that situation, and I let it take me down momentarily.
Here are a few ways I’ve been turning this pain into power (and by “power” I mean “energy” or “the ability to respond” i.e., “responsibility”). Maybe by reading my experience you can find some insight to more efficiently alchemize adverse situations in your own life:
Practicing conscious forgiveness and compassion
Part of me wants to condemn this person. “They have no right to speak to me like that, etc.” When I remind myself that this person was doing the best they could in the moment, I can summon some degree of compassion. I don’t know what’s really going on in their life. I don’t know what difficult experiences they’ve been through that could have them communicating with me out of a place of trauma or unconsciousness.
I’ve been asking for help from my Qigong and other spiritual masters whom I often talk to. “Please help me forgive this person. Please help me to understand any lessons I can learn from this experience. Please help me to have compassion and not to condemn.”
I know that forgiveness and compassion are the keys to my healing and spiritual development. And I want to heal and develop spiritually. I also know that harboring anger and hatred is damaging to my health and I want to experience robust vitality. I don’t want to hurt myself by holding a grudge.
So I keep asking my spiritual masters for help until I feel clear.
Mundane adversity can trigger much larger pre-existing trauma
When a small affront or adversity triggers a disproportionately large emotional response, that is a flashing red light clue that there is a deeper trauma being pointed to, and this is actually an excellent opportunity for freedom.
It was important for me to admit to myself that I felt hurt by the experience, and even that it hurt much more than it “should” have. This is not condemning the person at the level of pain I’m experiencing, this is recognizing and admitting a personal level of pain that until I accept it, I will not be able to fully let it go, to fully heal.
This also allows me an opportunity to ask important, transformational questions:
Why did this seemingly trivial slight feel so extreme?
I can brainstorm for some old, unhelpful beliefs which may have been there the whole time before, influencing my life from behind the scenes, just out of reach of my awareness:
“No one cares about me.”
“I don’t get the appreciation I deserve.”
“I need love and I don’t get it.”
“I’m not enough.”
“I’m not respected enough.”
And the list can go on.
The value in identifying these unhelpful beliefs is that by becoming aware of them I have taken the first step toward eradicating them, and I can then plant the seeds of new beliefs which serve me much better:
“I care about me!”
“Many people DO care about me!”
“Many people appreciate me, and I always appreciate myself whether or not others appreciate me.”
“I am love and love is forever.”
“I am enough.”
“I respect myself regardless of the respect I perceive coming from others.”
In these types of situations, the Ho’Opono Pono can also be extraordinarly useful:
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” (Repeat multiple times.)
The goal is to forgive, to let go of anger, to relax our hearts and keep awareness in the heart-space. The Ho’Oponopono brings awareness straight back to the heart every time.
External vs internal validation
I can also begin to see the ways in which I might be relying on an external source for my sense of value, appreciation, respect and happiness.
The degree to which we rely on an external source for our sense of “enoughness” is the degree to which our sense of enoughness will rise and fall. E.g., when people love me or validate me, I’m elated. When people don’t love me or don’t treat me well, I’m devastated.
This is not to say that asking for and expecting respect, love and appreciation is not critical. Of course it is. I’m not suggesting anyone should tolerate abuse.
What I’m suggesting, in this examples, is that we recognize and remember that sometimes in life people are going to let us down when we expect them to treat us how we would like to be treated.
Unless I admit total responsibility for my own experience, I will remain a victim. To the extent that I blame an external source for my misery, I disempower myself. I pretend I’m not free. Pretending I’m not free (that is to say, responsible) is counterproductive to my freedom and wellbeing.
To quote the famous stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, from his treatise Meditations:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
Grist for the mill
As a result of processing our run-of-the-mill or “ordinary adversity,” as I’ve called it, we can come out the other side as more mature people, more capable of forgiveness and compassion, more deeply rooted in a sustainable, internally-sourced wellbeing, less reliant on the vagaries of external validation for our happiness.
In this way, we turn our pain into power. Adversity becomes fuel for our ever-growing aliveness.
P.S. If you’d like to experience turning your pain into power in an accelerated way, to step into more of your brilliance, to align more fully with your life’s purpose, or to gain more clarity and quicker results in your health, wealth or relationships, sign up for some 1-1 life coaching with me here. Also, please share this post with 1 person who might enjoy it!