Keeping an open heart

I experience this thing I call the Jukebox in my head. Every so often I wake up with a song in my head, or I might be driving along and hear a song, no radio on. I always pay attention when this happens. I believe I’m receiving hints, or being guided in a small way.

The other morning I woke up to the song “Killing me Softly With His Song” playing in my head. (As sung by Roberta Flack.) I made my morning tea and Googled the song on my phone. As I listened I also remembered Roberta’s gorgeous voice singing another song, “The first time every I saw your face”. I listened to that next. The three verses are succinct and poignant. It’s all there is to say about love. I doubt anyone could listen to that song and not be moved.

As I listened to this beautiful expression of love, I sang along with it even though I’m a terrible singer with a scratchy alto voice. I could barely do the song justice. However something unexpected happened as I sang along. Voicing this love letter opened me in ways I had not foreseen. I experienced a bitter sweet feeling. The ache of an open heart. The feeling reminded me much of the day I decided to leave a long-term relationship. My heart cracked wide open, because I knew I would break my partner’s heart, even though it was clear our time together was at an end.

To have an open heart—born out of compassion—opens you to feel the entire All That Is. You can feel other people’s pain. You understand where they are coming from. But you do it from a place of relative safety and deep knowing. You have a new understanding that goes beyond the self. In experiencing a shattering so absolute, it feels like you will never have a whole heart again. I have discovered through my own experience that this is actually a preferred way to live.

Today I have a much repaired and different heart from the one I started out with. A heart that shows my battle scars but in a gentle, understanding, and loving way. I am now open to understand, to grok, what it is like to feel pain, and still be alive and vibrant. This is not being a martyr. That’s a totally different energy pattern. I’m talking about knowing what it is like to feel energy/vibrations/emotions coming through your heart that move you. You begin to organically understand what others have been through in a totally non-verbal way. This is where compassion is forged, right there in your open heart. Once experienced, there is no going back.

As I felt my heart staying open, but with the sting of passion, I thought to myself, who is it I have these remembered feelings for? I could not name one person, nor could I remember a specific situation I had felt this way. Yet I knew without a doubt I had felt this way many times in my life. So where was this feeling coming from and who was it associated with? The feeling persisted. Somewhere there is a kernel of truth in this, and it is an opportunity for growth. An opportunity I wouldn’t miss for the world.

After some reflection, I came to the realization that love resides in the self, not in the other. I had these feelings of love for every person I had ever been close to. Every pet, every friend, every emotional situation be it joy or sorrow. I stayed open to these feelings all day. It’s a feeling of total vulnerability. This is something most of us hide from. When I am feeling vulnerable and open, I like to take the advice of my favorite Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön. It’s the running away from emotions that makes us feel so uncomfortable. Staying with a feeling without taking action is a great gift to give yourself. I wanted to be fully present for this so I allowed myself the experience instead of shutting down or running away.

When your heart opens you allow yourself to fully feel, to fully live, to fully be. Don’t close down when this happens, let it all flow through you. Now you are a warrior of the heart. This makes you stronger than any force on earth (because it is from Spirit). The wounded warrior is a natural healer born of uncomfortable experiences and heartache. So do you see that even painful experiences are beneficial. They have their purpose.

I hope my open heart never closes, never fully heals. I do not want a perfect, whole heart. I want my experiences to live within me, in a positive way. In an organic way. Let your heart be touched. In this way you will be able to comfort, assist, or simply understand a fellow human being. Or you may simply understand them at a soul level. Keep looking through your heart’s sensitive energy, not just your eyes. You will see and feel much that would otherwise be closed to you. I wouldn’t trade my life’s journey—all the ups and downs—for anything. I love having an open heart. I believe it serves me well.