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Rehabilitation of a Yogi: Heart Broken Open

What is it about the heart?  Why does it ache so intensely?  Why do we try so hard to protect the heart?  Why does it break when parting from the beloved?

According to the great modern yogi Sri Dharma Mittra (of the Dharma Yoga Center) there is a little piece of God inside each and every being.  This divine spark is located "just at the right side of the heart".  Love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, sadness, and tenderness all stream from the heart center.

The broken heart is a heart in pain, exposed, raw and vulnerable.  It may feel like a wounding but really it’s the amour we had welded around the heart for "protection" that’s cracked.  The heart is pure love, infinite, potent, - unbreakable as water.  The heart does not ask for anything, does not require anything.

The heart of a warrior is raw, exposed, gentle, tender, it is the genuine heart of sadness.

"You would like to spill you heart's blood, give you heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid... Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others." - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Longing, desire, hope, greed, lust – these are commonly misattributed to the heart.  For most of us it's where the challenge lies.  It can be tricky to discern what is real love and what is clinging / grasping / passion / attachment.  Often I find it's easy to tell in highsight, but confusing in the present moment when it really counts.

Radical self-acceptance means with each breath taking care not to push away the pain and sadness of loneliness.  Each of us is truly alone.  We may connect with words, with music, with vows, with our hands, lips and genitals, but we can never truly merge with another.  It’s both the good news and the bad news.  We can fantasize about what another person is thinking or feeling but we can never truly know.  The only truth which exists in the present is the personal truth, my honest reaction to internal and external stimuli.  How precious then is our unique human ability to communicate complex emotions, patterns and ideas!  How important it is to keep trying and how irrevocably futile.  Each person’s understanding of love is their own, framed by their life experiences.  And yet there is a beating heart inside each of us.  There is pain.  We've all had suffering.  There is pleasure.  We've all felt happiness.

The best advice I ever heard for a broken heart is to leave it broken, not try to fix it.  Leave your heart just as it is: broken open, pure, vulnerable, sad, tender, soft, touchable, alive and awake. There is pain in being open, but it’s an honest pain.  There’s pleasure, too – heartfelt, real, present, singing at the top of your lungs, dancing in the middle of the night, smiling a secret smile, because life is unpredictable and love is everywhere if you open your eyes and look.

Yoga Pose: Restorative Heart Opener

Roll up a blenket or zabuton (to create a long sturdy cushion).  Sit at the short edge of the blanket roll with your sits bones firmly rooted into the ground.  Have two blocks handy for leg variations.  Roll down onto the roll so lying on your back the support is along the spine, between the shoulder blades. You may like some extra lift for the skull (if using the blanket roll  fold up the top edge and rest your head down).  Legs can extend out.  O you may bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees release out to either side.  Place a block under each knee at whatever level is appropriate for you so the legs can relax outward without straining the inner groin.  Shoulder blades release toward the floor.  The arms spread out along the floor with the backs of the hands resting six inches away from the hips. 

Feel the breath in the body in this heart opening pose.  If you like you can visualize a green light at the center of the chest (like a candle flame flickering behind a vibrant leaf).  With each inhale the light glows brighter, with each exhale the glow spreads throughout the body.

Rest in the glow of your heart center for three to seven minutes.  To come out of the pose bring the knees up pressing the feet into the floor (use your hands to bring the knees together to avoid stressing the inner thighs).  Roll over to the right side coming off the cushion and rest in fetal position for a few cleansing breaths. 

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Rehabilitation of a Yogi is the story of one woman seeking to find contentment with reality and embrace self care.

Open Mind Yoga: Six Week Workshop at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York features a playful exploration of Yoga and Meditation. Drop in for the next four Wednesdays at 7pm!

Contact me with questions.  Thank you for your comments.

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