August 7, 2012

10 Salves for a Broken Heart.


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Bonus, a Buddhist teacher on grace, faith, service and heart:

Rejected? It’s good for you (and me).

“I felt like this tonight: mistaken, alone, a failure. Genuine sadness better than fake happiness: it opens possibility of genuine joy.”

To Love is to Feel.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.” ~ C.S. Lewis.

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Years ago, in Hawaii, and many times since, and many times before, I had my heart broken, a little. This little writeup came about after that breakup, on Maui. 

I’ve always been a bit lonely, though I’ve always known many people, and had many dear friends, and a wonderful mama. Despite that, I’ve long lapsed into intense loneliness.

Luckily, I had the Buddhist teachings as a reference point, and they emphasize that loneliness isn’t a problem. In fact, as a gentleman from another tradition entirely says:

There’s a crack,

a crack in everything,

that’s how the light gets in

~ Leonard Cohen.

Loneliness, Pema Chodron reminds us, is in itself the feeling that is bodhicitta, or our fundamentally awake, good, aok human nature or “seed of awake.” The noble, peaceful warrior, Trungpa Rinpoche reminds us, is always broken hearted. Always. Ouch.

Well, that’s all talk. Last week I was in Hawaii, in paradise, on my first break…ever…I fell back in love with an old flame, and she with me…only to discover my needy longings being politely put off, then rejected entirely.

And then I was left alone:

“I’m not ready for intimacy right now, please respect that.”

I was left alone with my vulnerable heart.

I spent two days alone, mostly, just being with that. And then, unable to bear being around someone I had, if for a silly, foolish, open moment, looked with love to…I let go, tried to close down, and returned to my home.

It’s easy to solidify disappointment into, as she said of me, “a pity party.”

It’s also easy, as she said, to just “be happy”—to just grin and bear it and let go and move on and pay it forward and smile. Fake it ’til you make it—it can work.

But my training is just to be with the sadness, and heal, and open, and smile when it’s a genuine smile born of inner flowering.

In that spirit, here’s my personal tips (for what little they’re worth).

1. Be. Don’t entertain or distract yourself with movies or web surfing or texting or fun or drinking or anything. Just be. Feel it.

2. Feel it. Feel it fully. Focus on it. Allow it to breathe, relax, open of its own accord. If you don’t know what “it” is, you need to go out there, fall in love, and get your heart broken. Then, proceed to step number…

3. Meditate. Mix your mind, your neurosis, your love, your he said/she said internal arguments and longings…with space. With the present moment.

4. Nature. Get out in it. Breathe. Hike. Do yoga. Walk your dog. Walk a friend’s dog.

5. Talk with true friends, who will give you their truth. Keep company with real people, not the 95% of your acquaintances who don’t really, truly know you.

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6. Tonglen.

7. Call mom or dad. If not mom or dad, some powerfully personal mentor figure in your life.

8. Let’s get practical: don’t communicate with your unrequited loved one. Jealousy, longing, expectations, pain…it’s drama. Let it go. Hide his/her stream on Facebook (unfriending is too dramatic. Middle way). Don’t text. Don’t email. Wish them happiness, even love…a la step #7.

9. Exercise. Don’t eat too much, or do whatever it is you do when you’re sad. As Pema says, change your habitual pattern. Take care of yourself. Maitri.

10. Ask someone out. Ask two someones out. Get out there, when you’re ready. And if you get rejected, as you will, remember: when it’s right, and you have your shiite together, it’ll just happen naturally. No need to push or pull.

Jolly good luck, sweetheart.

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author: Waylon Lewis

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Cindy Chase Apr 8, 2019 2:38pm

Thank you Waylon as always. My heart broke over 8 months ago and I was feeling like I should be further along in this process. With your words, I will sit, call my Mom and Dad and just be. It will all be ok, as my mom always says, but thank you for reinforcing her words. It is ok to not be ok yet. I am finding that out.

bobi59 Mar 10, 2019 7:19am

Thank you..x

Cathy Portje Mar 8, 2019 7:57am

Thank you. As I sit with a broken heart fighting the anxiety and fear of pain underneath that you remind me that I can just be with it. And to be reminded that I have not been abandoned.the only one who has abandoned me is me.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.