Expanding your heart

Have you ever had a broken heart? Is there any other answer to this question than Yes? If you are human and you are reading this, chances are your heart has been broken and probably more than once. I’ve been thinking about this all week since I heard a radio program on 774 with Clare Bowditch. She was discussing songs of our lives, those songs that have left their mark on you or that signify a moment or event in your life. When I started listening to the discussion, I could relate but not specifically, but as the conversation progressed, songs of my childhood, my teenage years and even my adult life kept surfacing from memory. As I drove on and listened I found myself particularly connecting to those songs of my teenage years that are intertwined with the memory of a break up, or the teenage angst you feel when you love a boy and your feelings aren’t returned. Visions of crying in my bedroom listening to some 80’s heartbreak song on my turntable just continued to resurface. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I did alright in the boyfriend department, but if I’m honest I shed a tear in the car as I recounted all those wasted tears over first loves, teenage crushes and even adult heartbreaks.


We’ve all been there, it’s part of our progression to understanding our true self and these heartbreaks teach us about love and loss, yearning and desire, but more importantly about who we are and what we will tolerate. Hopefully by this stage in life, or by the time you chose your current partner, we have learned from those heartbreaks and chosen what works for us. Assuming all the above is true, why do we still experience heart break or what we term as that in our adult life?


Perhaps our mistake is in the definition. That same night I was listening to that radio program I sat and watched the Notebook for the 80th time, when I should have been asleep, sobbing on the couch like some lovesick high school girl. What is all that about? I’m not heartbroken, I’m not looking or searching for love, so why does this movie get me in the same way every time? As Mark got up to go to bed, looking at me like “seriously, are you going to watch this again” I couldn’t quite understand why it hits me to the core every time and why I’m so drawn to this movie. Is it her angst at making the choice, (when really there is no choice – Ryan all the way) or is just the simple fact that it is a story of such a beautiful idealistic love that only Nicholas Sparks can write. Or maybe that the journey to love is not always smooth, requires great risk and getting in touch with who you really are and what you want. Or all the above. Or, maybe it’s just Ryan Gosling. But when she drives back to that white house with the blue shutters by the lake, gets out of the car with her suitcases in her hands and runs into his arms, I cry so hard I can barely breathe! I remember making my poor husband read that book when we first met. I handed him the novel with the very clear statement “this is how I want to be loved“…oh that poor guy! It’s fiction, and not great fiction at that, but nevertheless there is something to be said for it.


Watching this movie again makes me question the term “heartbroken” and instead makes me consider that it’s not heart break I’m experiencing but “heart expansion” and maybe each time this happens we allow the capacity for love and feeling in a little more. Maybe the heart breaks as it grows and expands, and the more this happens the more we feel, the greater we experience and the deeper we love. I know I am guilty of loving deeply and have been for most of my life. If you get my love as a friend or a partner you get it fully and in your face, and whilst that might be too much for some, I know it’s who I am and how I do it. But as my life has taught me if I love hard, then at times I must expect to hurt hard. Whether this is in a petty fight with Mark, or the loss of a friendship, if you are going to fully commit to love then I believe you must expect to hurt a little at times. It’s the yin and yang of life.


Perhaps it’s time to start watching Netflix murder and crime shows and a little less of the romantic stuff.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.


I love talking about love and the power of the heart.


It’s no surprise to me that I’m fascinated by the work of the Heartmath Institute in the USA and their research into scientifically investigating the heart and its connection to emotion and energy. Their studies conclude that the heart has a memory and even an energy field all its own, which at times is far superior to that of our brain. Have you ever found yourself saying “I’m going to go with my heart,” well there is more to this statement than it seems? Decisions and actions can be truly made from this place as so with the gut, but it takes practice to become attuned.


Just this morning I had a conversation with a close friend who is currently deciding on whether to leave her job. When she accepted the position, she knew and I knew that it was not the right role for her. On paper and in her analytical mind, it was a great opportunity. Yet in her gut and her heart she knew before she even started that it wasn’t the right role for her. But because the mind is so powerful and leads us often to make decisions that start with “I should” she took the role and gave it a go. Three months later her mind has now been convinced of what her heart already knew and she is going to resign. In many ways, the mind has now given the heart permission to make its decision. How powerful our minds are and how they lead us in directions we are not always aware. Sometimes to places that are not good for us or into relationships that aren’t the right fit, yet always with logic behind them. Even with my son I’ve noticed the power of the mind in the last few months as anxiety about the dark and what goes bump in the night has taken over his sleep and ability to relax at night. Only working on the thoughts that are created in the mind, have we been able to slowly slowly change this routine and manage some nights of settled sleep. You only have to ask a person living with depression about the power of the mind.


Then how do we make this connection to our heart stronger?

How do we continue to expand our heart and live from this place? Accepting that the more you love, the deeper you may feel?


One way to become more attuned to the wisdom of your heart is using heart-focused breathing. You may have a decision you wish to make and feel you are receiving messages from the head and the heart. If you are seeking to connect to a heart-based choice, practicing this technique can lead you down this path. It’s a simple technique but once you become more practiced you might find yourself in a place where you can really experience the wisdom of your heart.


At times, I have used this simple technique when I want to make an authentic decision that reflects my true self. Not what I think I “should” do or what someone wants me to do. By sitting in a quiet space, reflecting on my question I can use this technique below to cut through the babble in my head and listen to the choice of my soul. It’s a meditation of sorts if you wish to consider it this way and something we can easily teach our kids.


Like anything it comes down to a choice. My mind is important to me, I love how it works, how it weaves information and helps me analyse problems and create solutions. Yet I’m clear it doesn’t work alone, and when I can combine heart and mind then that’s when I know I’m on to something.

That’s where I find myself living authentically.


Love and light

Jo

x


Heart-focused breathing

(Taken from the Heartmath Institute https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-focused-breathing/)

  • Heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal. As you breathe in, imagine you are doing so through your heart, and, as you breathe out, imagine it is through your heart. (In the beginning, placing your hand over your heart as you breathe can help you in directing your focus to your heart.)

  • Typically, HeartMath recommends that you breathe in about 5 to 6 seconds and breathe out 5 to 6 seconds. Be sure your breathing is smooth, unforced and comfortable. Although this is not difficult to do, it may take a little time to become used to it, but eventually you will establish your own natural rhythm.

  • Heart-focused breathing won’t take a lot of time out of your day, but it can add lots of benefits to your life. Many people find that heart-focused breathing is an excellent way to start and finish their days, but there are times in between when it is especially beneficial. Try it during a break on the job, at school or while working around the house.

  • There is no more important time for a few minutes of heart-focused breathing than when you feel your stress buttons being pushed. These vary from one person to the next, but some you may be familiar with include a late bus, train or even plane commute to work; a presentation, important meeting or performance review in the workplace; a big test at school; or a dreaded encounter with someone you’d rather avoid.






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