Monday, May 18, 2009

MPOW #17 - Open Heart Meditation

"Most of us may feel like we are not up to the task of living with our hearts open, and we might begin to close down, little by little, so that we can get through our days without having to feel too much. One thing that can help us turn this situation around is an awareness of the power of empathy. To open our hearts to another person’s suffering is a revolutionary act that has energetic implications." - From Daily Om's Heart Meditation

The heart is powerful on at least three channels of our experience: data/functional, emotional, and symbolic. In this Mindfulness Practice of the Week, explore all of the channels of the fourth major chakra.

At the data/functional channel, the heart is one of our body's marathon runners, a muscle that when healthy pumps 1900 gallons (or 7200 L) of blood throughout our body, supplying every cell with oxygen and nutrients. It has messengers that reach every part of our body over and over again. Imagine how much your heart must know. Marvel how much your heart does.

Along the emotional channel, your heart beat reflects your feelings. When you are scared and excited, it beats faster; when you are calm, it beats more slowly. Your heart becomes an outward physical sign of your inner state. Contemplate how amazing it is to find so much about yourself reflected outwardly.

The symbolic channel is an especially potent one. Countless songs across many cultures link passion, compassion, kindness, resolve, bravery, etc. to the heart. It is a symbol of many virtues and love. Ponder your heart's symbolism.

The heart inspires in many ways. This week, follow a practice that I have adapted from reiki.

The mindfulness practice of the week

Sit or lie in a comfortable position, holding your hands four to six inches apart (or imagine something similar). See if you can feel the space between your hands. Concentrate on this with a loose focus. Play with it. Pull your hands a little apart. Push them a little together. See if you can notice a connection between them even when they're not touching. When you really tune into the feeling, you may feel an elasticity between your hands. Put your intention fully between them and imagine a ball of energy growing between your palms, warming and glowing. Draw this energy from the earth, the sky, and the living world around you. You may need to move your hands to let it expand and feel potent. When you are ready, bring your hands closer together to tighten the ball into a marble of light. Then, fold your hands over your heart, inserting the ball of energy into the center of your being.

Feel the warmth of that energy in your heart. Imagine it filling you with an invincible, purifying light. In time, allow the light to radiate out from your heart. Leaving your hands softly over your heart, use your intention to gather things into your heart. Gather your loved ones there. Gather your loving feelings. Feel how they shine and strengthen. Also, and very deliberately, invite the objects of your struggles. Maybe your hamstrings are sore, invite them in, thanking them for working so hard for you. Maybe a colleague irritates you, maybe there's a family tiff, maybe you are ill, maybe there's political strife. Whatever it is, welcome that object of struggling into your heart. Let it know that you can still love it, too. More importantly, let yourself know that you can love it. Let your heart fill it with warmth and compassion, so that it can flow and turn into light itself.

Give yourself permission to linger here. Invite in the positive, the neutral, and the negative, showing it all equal love. Let the power of your heart bring wise virtue to everything. It is a powerful experience to bring the intention of your heart to all that you encounter outside of you. It nourishes and enriches you from the inside.

"And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!"
-Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This post is dedicated to my loving mother. Mom has the hugest heart I have every known.

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