We tend to protect our hearts, whether that manifests physically in the body with a tendency towards a slouching posture, or emotionally, by creating a protective energetic wall around us to ensure we won’t get hurt. Many of us are walking around with thick emotional barriers due to past traumas or deep-rooted societal beliefs and we end up pushing people away, keeping them safely on the other side of that wall. We’re afraid to let people inside in the event they might see our shortcomings.
Living with an open heart allows us to see the beauty in everything around us. It allows us to connect, to create, and to flow with life instead of fight against it. When human beings begin to communicate through love, instead of fear, we start to view our vulnerabilities as an opportunity to connect with others.
But how do we cautiously let our shields down in the hopes that others will let theirs down in return? How can we live with an open heart?
Vulnerability is a scary thing for most of us. If we put ourselves out in the world, we could get ridiculed, laughed at, criticized. We might even be shunned or excluded from our social groups, friends, and family, or at least, this is what we tell ourselves. But have you ever noticed that sometimes when you put yourself out there, the most magical and unexpected things can happen? Often, we’re reciprocated with love, kindness, and support; more than we ever imagined. Sometimes by opening our hearts, we open a door and cross a threshold into another realm we only dared to dream about.
Practicing vulnerability doesn’t have to mean sharing all your life regrets on your public social media profile. It can mean sharing an embarrassing memory with your spouse. Maybe in sharing, you create a connection with them you never had before. It can be as simple as reaching out to someone you admire to ask them for coffee. Maybe they wanted to meet you for coffee too but weren’t sure you’d be up for it. Perhaps you finally wear those shoes you’ve been thinking are too bold of a statement. Maybe you end up with a bunch of compliments and feel great because you’re expressing yourself. You don’t need to take the plunge into vulnerability, it can be baby steps.
Brené Brown, who has dedicated the past decade to researching vulnerability, authenticity, and shame, says that courage does not equal bravery. The word courage, from Latin “cor” meaning heart, and the original definition meant to tell the story of who you are. Does that not sound like a wonderful definition of living with an open heart? Telling the heart-felt story of who you are? It’s about having the courage to express your story through your thoughts, words, and actions. This isn’t about dumping your problems on other people, it’s about utilizing your experiences, your pain, your awareness of your conditioning so that you can become a source of wisdom. It’s about simply being in your own skin, with confidence, and with love.
Drop Your Defenses
Do you find that you’re always ready to go into battle when someone challenges your ideas? Maybe you are bringing up a timeline of events and you are quick to respond “no, that’s not how it happened!” or someone accuses you of something you didn’t do, and you react “I would never do that!” We all remember things differently. We all see from our own perspectives. We are quick to point fingers away from us. Even two people having the exact same experience will remember it differently based on their emotions, their perception of the world, their upbringing, etc. Why do you feel like you need to defend yourself anyways? What makes you so right? Instead of rushing into a debate, see if you can do your best not to judge others for their opinions, beliefs, or stances on the matter. If you want to have an informed debate, that’s fine, but there’s typically an underlying emotion that arises with being defensive. Be conscious of the lower-vibrating frequencies of defensiveness, and see if you can move into a frequency of understanding and openness.
Everyone is in living within their own version of Fight Club, those internal battles we are fighting. These battles can be ongoing with ourselves, with our ego, with the demons of our past, or they can be day-to-day challenges with a spouse, loved ones and finances. Do you remember what Rule Number One is? We do not talk about Fight Club. Society tells us not to talk about it unless we are in the confines of our psychiatrist’s office. So, when someone is reacting badly, it’s incredibly important to practice compassion. You never know what battle they might be fighting today. Instead of getting your defenses up and plummeting into their bad energy, see if you can be the one to uplift them. Sometimes a smile can melt the iciest of demeanors.
What are you grateful for? Maybe you can think of a few things off the top of your head. If you sit down to a regular gratitude practice you can eventually start to come up with a list of hundreds of things. Gratitude is powerful. You are energetically telling the universe that you have everything you need, and you’re thankful for it. Likely if you are reading this, you have a roof over your head, electricity and running water, clothing on your back. Be grateful for your health, family, and friends, or a support network, for living in a safe and stable environment. There’s so much to be grateful for, and in return for being grateful, you’ll start to see shifts in your life as the universe reciprocates.
Daily Practices For Opening Your Heart
Connect with the earth, spend time in nature, walk barefoot, allow the sunshine to soak into your skin
Join a yoga studio and connect with other health-conscious people in your community
Use heart-opening essential oils like this Heart Chakra Anointing Oil to invigorate and open your heart center
During your meditation practice, focus on your heart center. Breathe in and out through your heart, feel the expansiveness and your connection with the cosmos
Listen to singing bowls specifically attuned to open the heart chakra
Practice heart-opening yoga poses such as fish pose, camel pose, bridge/wheel or simply lay on your back with a bolster supporting your spine, arms open wide