Keeping Your Heart Open

Life feels heavy these days and so does my heart. When I go through tougher times I tend to close off, to contract. It’s our natural reaction to pull away from what pains us; to retreat from what we imagine creates the heaviness in our lives and in our hearts.

But what if we didn’t? What if we learned to stay open even when it hurt? What if we learned to expand when we instinctively wanted to contract?

We would undoubtedly land someplace new.

We are in a time that calls for a new place to land.

I am practicing  being open and, to be honest,  frequently it’s a struggle. I want to shut down, turn off, tune out because it often feels like too much. And then, I am reminded that’s a privilege not everyone is afforded and so I power up, turn back on, and tune in.

But it’s not all arrows to the heart and sucker punches to the gut. It is seeing kindness where it is, making the time to take it in, and creating the time to offer it out. And with that I will tell you about how my cat, Bhakti, is a fantastic teacher.

All the feline friends I’ve had the pleasure of serving have taught me about life. If you pay attention, you’ll see that often their wisdom comes from their simplicity. If Bhakti feels like laying down, she does. Often right in the middle of the floor. If she’s hungry, she tells me right then and there. If she likes it when I rub her chin, she purrs and nudges me when I stop. Her heart is wide open so she can receive whatever she needs, whenever it is offered.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a young mom pushing a stroller up toward my office window. Before long she was talking to Bhakti and telling her how pretty she is. I said hello and offered to bring Bhakti outside for her to visit. She was so elated and soon I found out that her name is Mai  and she’s only been living in the US for 6 months. We chatted a bit and I told her to feel free to visit with Bhakti in the windows any time.

And she has, I see her several times a week and she’s always so happy to see me and Bhakti, although probably a little more the cat than me. Some days I see her roll down the sidewalk with the stroller and I think to myself that I am too busy to step away from my computer. I feel myself contract. And then I remember, we are learning to be open. Bhakti is always open. So I pick the cat up and go outside with her. And every time this young woman is always so happy to see the cat. And I think to myself: this costs me nothing. It’s a few minutes in my day and she’s so nice. Why wouldn’t I want to be open to this? If I was in a new country, wanting to make my way and find some friends I would hope someone would take a few minutes with me every now and then.

I am reminding myself that being more open really is an endless resource. It doesn’t mean every person gets unfettered access but it does mean I can likely afford to be more generous. When others are telling me of their pain I can offer up my listening and validation. I can be open to their pain even if it brings pain closer to me. Everything is lighter with help. We were never supposed to carry these things alone. We were always meant to carry them together.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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