Keeping Your Heart Open in Hell
Do you know how to keep your heart open in hell? It doesn’t matter whether it’s the hell of: holidays alone; facing death or illness of loved ones or yourself; losing your livelihood; fleeing political, racial, ethnic, gender persecution; catastrophic loss of homes/businesses to fire or flood; the pain is horrendous. Whatever your situation, be sure not to minimize your hurting with judgments that others have it worse. Your pain is real and deserves to be honored.
Like many facing agony, you may try to protect yourself from overwhelm by shutting out feeling. The problem is while numbness submerges pain, it’s not sustainable. You end up with a tight, heavy heart and worse—closed off from yourself and others.
Here’s the tip. First, put pride aside and ask for support…friends, family, neighbors, clergy, therapist…someone tender! You need a friendly face, a soft shoulder, a hug. Once you feel safer and more connected, check inside to see how much pain you’re ready to feel. Start small. Even one tear heals. Breathe. Slow down and get very specific about what sensations, energy, emotions, movement are present in your body in this moment.
If/when big tears and/or anger arrives, welcome them. Emotions are safe to flow when you stay out of your story. Watch carefully to see when your body is done. Rest in the softness that follows emotional release. Stay fiercely focused in the simple peace of the present moment. Look for small joys. Observe how strength and resourcefulness gently seep back into your experience. This is your heart opening to love you back to life and yourself. Repeat as necessary.