I recently attended a discussion where I talked about how, when difficulty arose, I practiced keeping an Open Heart. Another man there asked what happened when I was through and my heart shut down, and I replied, "why would I shut my heart back down?"
What does it mean to fully open your heart? To allow whatever arises to come at you fully whether it is love, joy, or distress and pain? Sometimes even love can come to you in the form of distress. Even love can test our ability to hold an Open Heart. Ha! It is especially love that will test us!
As men, we are trained to shut things off, be strong, to be unfeeling and uncaring. Man up. How's that working for you?
It's not easy to hold an Open Heart. When it feels like you're being attacked it's the easiest thing in the world to shut down, close yourself off, thinking you're protecting yourself, when, in actuality, it's one of the worst thing we can do to ourselves. An Open Heart is the purest of love, and it can be learned. It's really quite simple.
It just takes practice. Here's way you might be able to do that.
Imagine someone in your life that you dearly love. It might be a lover, a parent, a child, a friend, whatever. Now feel into how your heart feels when you embrace them, and your heart opens to them.
Now choose an object that you can see. It might be a book, a desk, a chair, it doesn't matter. Now focus on that object, call forth the feeling of love and openness you felt for your loved one, and say to yourself, "I see this as being sacred and open my heart to it." Now, really feel into it, opening and allowing yourself to really connect with this object, concentrating on opening your heart. Practice until you can really feel yourself opening. Continue doing this with other objects throughout your day.
Next, start looking at other people the same way. At first, you'll forget, and fall back into your regular patterns, but eventually, and with enough practice, it will start to feel automatic with you. You can then apply this same learned technique, this practiced embodiment, and apply it to every situation in your life. This is the work of the Sacred Warrior.
This is particularly difficult when you're scared, or frightened that you might screw up, or that you might not be up to the task.....and there's no better time to practice. When it's happening to me, I have to be conscious of keeping my heart open, and reminding myself to always act for the highest good.
And when you master it, or when you just practice it, you'll be touching enlightenment and the very face of Spirit by whatever name you call it.
Digital image by Gary Stamper