How To Come Home Through Opening Your Heart.
I woke up one day and realized that my heart was closed.
There were blocks and stops and places where I just couldn’t allow the love to flow out of me. As I looked into my lover’s eyes, instead of going deeper and swimming in him, I felt the shallow strokes in water barely worth wading.
How could this have happened? There had been times in my life when closing down my heart space was all that I really wanted — anything to just take away the pain and leave me feeling numb yet fine once again, instead of the broken open constant ache that I was experiencing.
But those times had long since passed. I spent years struggling to reclaim my emotions and my body, and my open heart was a hard-won beautiful result of those efforts.
No, I wasn’t back to square one, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be either.
It brought me sorrow to be so out of touch with myself, and so I embarked on a quest to bring myself home. I had thought that there was a destination and that I had already arrived after years of self-healing.
But I was wrong.
Opening one’s heart is a continuing journey through life and a path that must be walked daily.
Yoga was my jumping off point, and it was on the mat that I realized exactly how disconnected from my own body I had become.
Breath — the simple unconscious act that connects us most notably with the cycles of death and rebirth.
Breathe in — fill my body with life’s essence, then the single moment, a zenith of fulfillment.
Breathe out — let it all go and surrender to the darkness, then the single moment when all is empty and there is nothing. And then, we always breathe in again.
I could not breathe rhythmically. My breath was shallow and heavy. It stopped and would not fill and nourish the tiny corners within me. I needed more, and there was no way of getting it but to gasp again and again. The breathing out was easier.
I was so tired. The deep bone-weary tired that comes from months of not caring for one’s true needs. Taking in the nourishment, the love and life that is our birthright — not so easy. It hurt to feel how disconnected I was from my breath, and thus from my body. I cried that night. I’d lost something precious and had not known how precious it was until it was gone.
The first step in opening one’s heart is to reconnect with one’s body, and the first step in reconnecting with one’s body is through one’s breath. I began doing yoga regularly. Oh, how my body ached from years of abuse (3 1/2 years of roller derby in my case, which was empowering but definitely hard on the body).
My inhalations slowly became deeper and more filling. I was able to breathe more rhythmically with my movements; I was able to flow. There were still moments of panting and shaking, but there was more stillness and focus in-between.
My focus grew, and I could feel my body again. It had never left me. It was I who was coming home to it.
Life often seems to get in the way for me (or at least I allow it to), and so there is an ebb and flow with my practice. I’d like to think that this is okay and exactly where I need to be, as it is a reflection of the ebb and flow that is seen in all of life.
I am a cycle and a rhythm and in alignment with the world around me — a woman who flows like the moon and tides. This allows me to be a little bit nicer to myself, when I cannot fulfill the rigid expectations that I put upon myself in tackling this journey.
Self-love and compassion are important aspects of the journey. I am so very hard on myself. I have learned that if I let up on my awareness just a little bit, then I am right back there — in this hard place with crazy expectations that push me towards my own brand of self-sabotage.
So many times I have crashed and burned.
It’s not about the fall from grace but about each and every time that I will get back up and take a fresh step upon the path laid before me. It’s the self-love that takes my hand and pulls me back up.
I deserve this!
I deserve to be whole and happy and embodied. However, I have to give it to myself. This is the hard part, and it is a daily active effort to make it so. A daily effort to look myself in the mirror, look deep into my eyes, and tell myself that I am worth it. I deserve love, and I am worth it. I am giving it to myself.
Step One: Reconnect with my body and my breath, so that my sacred vessel is awakened to the beating heart within it that is capable of shining love and light throughout the universe. Give myself a place to land and to embody and allow my breath to take me there.
This is ongoing, so keep going! Yoga, movement, being outside in nature and breathing in Her essence, feeling my body and showering it with love — these are just a few of the ways that I am becoming embodied.
Step Two: Love myself. I must first soak in the love and light that I wish to pour over others. It must find itself within me before I can cast it out and spread it around. There are so many ways to do this, and I continue to grow in these methods.
Positive self-talk and consciously changing the messages when they are not so positive, self-nurturing through rest and seeking out inspiration, being kind to myself and giving myself gifts of wisdom and growth whenever possible. These are some of the ways that I am currently loving myself.
Now, you may have noticed the changes in tense in my writing, for these revelations came a few months ago, but I am not yet where I want to be. Bringing myself back to my full and open heart is still a work in progress.
I am in the midst of this beautiful journey, as I share with you. And so, this is an invitation to join me. If you are weary and blocked, begin again, as I am doing. If the weight of your life has closed you down and cut you off from the true essence of who you are and who you have always been, take the first steps down this path homeward.
I imagine that there are as many ways home as there are people making the journey. My way is simply my way. And I am willing to share it with you, so that you know that you are not alone.
We are both exactly where we need to be.
Mara Koch has worn many hats throughout her life — counselor, mother, shamanka, roller derby queen, labyrinth builder, ever a student of life, and most recently grand creatrix. She lives in a small Colorado mountain town with her soulmate, four daughters, and their various animal friends. Connect with her and join the journey at [email protected].