10 Salves for a Broken Heart.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 6, 2012
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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. http://instagr.am/p/N5emLYR9_Q/

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.

I recently had my heart broken, a little.

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.

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.


Bonus: the Buddhist view of Loneliness as a good thing.

The four stages of loneliness:


Bonus Round

The Kickstarter is successfully funded, but the video’s sweet:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & 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, is now available.


46 Responses to “10 Salves for a Broken Heart.”

  1. Lauren says:

    This post speaks to my own, broken, bent, sloppy heart…having fallen in love with my best friend after he finally gave up on winning me over, I realized I was in love with him on the same day he decided to move his old flame in with him…*sigh* It's been 2 months, you're so right, all of these things work…but #8, yeah that's the hard one, I work on that every day.

    When it's right…it will happen. I'll just keep telling myself that.


  2. Abby says:

    I know this is shameless self-promotion and totally gauche but I thought the article I wrote on “Letting Go” might help too…?


    From one survivor of a broken heart to another. Peace my brother.


  3. mindy says:

    One week of heartache for me today…thank you…sometimes, for me…I need someone I don't know to put it in front of me. Much happiness and peace!

  4. elephantjournal says:

    And, if it doesn't…or if it does: maitri!

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Reading now. With thanks, sister!

  6. faye says:

    perfect. this serves as a reminder for me b/c, after all, it is all about practice…breaking old old patterns and no push and pull…
    i recently met someone who moves me and i observe my old patterns creeping in. being aware of them, i must practice #3 and #9. and without a doubt will being and feeling, #1 & #2, and truly obeying these serve as my discipline to maintain this perspective. thrilling actually, isn't it?

  7. So real and lovely in the way that beauty is broken things, spacious things, things with edges and asymmetry. Thanks for posting. I know my broken hearts have kept my heart open so others can enter and life can plant more seeds.

  8. sara says:

    This is so helpful and timely. thanks so much!

  9. Austeja says:

    thank you…as selfish as it sounds, made me feel better I am not alone…

  10. Tracy Schumacher says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me that I am not the only one experiencing this and I am not alone. And thank you for reminding me/us about Tonglen; I already feel less isolation and lonliness knowing other people feel this. I feel closer to all you at this very moment.

    EJ has helped me get through my pain from a breakup with someone I was committed to for 7 years and I don't know what I would have done without EJ ( which is part of #1's what not to do), my family, friends, and the Boulder foothills for nature walks.

  11. Boogie says:

    Howdy Waylon – I do believe your introductory quote attributed to Rumi is actually attributable to Leonard Cohen, from a poem/song called Anthem, though Cohen is sort of a Rumi for Westerners. Perhaps it was Rumi inspired. Perhaps you were taking liberty with the interwebs and being a funny guy in the spirit of "Damn girl you so fine." – Aristotle

    As far as you and the ladies, chin up good sir. Good post. Cheers, Brian

  12. emilyalp says:

    Thank you, as always, for your humanity. It takes courage to love and courage to share, courage to trust that this will result in healing waves that ripple to so many.

    I wrote a piece from a similar (recovering from a smashed to bits) place a few days ago, and also emphasized media as an elixir. Because really, sometimes, you can find yourself more present with feelings with the help of songs, movies and books … if they are not gratuitous escape routes, you can allow them to help you boldly face and purge feelings that when cleared away provide a sense of clarity around reality and the possibility of surviving over the course of the emotional seasons, seasons that all of these musicians/songwriters/artists went through, that everybody goes through … how much we are together in this loneliness.

    Cathartic/reflective breakup playlist (homemade from years of practice), just in case one or two strikes your fancy!

    With all due respect, I must interject something about talking to people … I don't think people need to be so cordoned off about this … part of recovering is trusting your feelings, not just who THINK you can talk to. I mean, I was on a flight right after my (holy shit storm) breakup, and I was really in 'don't talk to me' mode. The (complete stranger) girl sitting next to me was very insistant on starting a conversation however. She practically interviewed me! (I'm a science writer, I'm the one who interviews, not other people!) Suddenly I a little floodgate opened and i told her the story. She looked at me with these incredibly amber-colored eyes (I swear it was like she wasn't human for a second) and recommended a book. It is a book that is absolutely critical for my growth at this stage in my life–every page resonates and reminds me of my self worth and how to move forward, practically, in the realm of dating based on that sense of self worth, self love and renewed self trust. So I think at these times, rather than only focus on 5 percent of friends, we just need to be careful about what we allow to come through our filters when the people we share with share back. We can trust our antennae, and potentially talk to anyone who creates the right zone, it's a bit more magical that way, seeing how these kind souls just take on angel wings out of nowhere, for no immediate gain of their own! … it is up to us to follow up on what is resonating. So many interventions waiting to happen.

    Love, Light and a wish for you to find that sweet, sweet spot of self love, the kind that overflows once again 🙂

  13. elephantjournal says:

    That's so funny—my bad. I've actually blogged up Cohen's quote before, but couldn't remember who'd said it, so googled it…and I guess the internet's decided Rumi gets credit for all sweet inspiring quotes, these days.

    Fixed, with thanks.

  14. Anne-li says:

    Been there, donne just that 🙂 Excellent advises, It sure worked for me!

  15. mandi says:

    What book?

  16. slsimms says:

    Makes me wanna cry…thanks Waylon. :0)

  17. emilyalp says:

    The book is called "It's Just a Date," by Greg and Amiira Behrendt. It's available on Kindle through Amazon UK but not US so I had to order the book … it's really a book about (a collective lack of) self esteem and about how nobody actually dates anymore (a formality and yet a way to see multiple people for a span of time to decide who you would like to be with instead of becoming 'sexclusive' so fast), finding partnership has become more about hanging out, hooking up and doing things that are 'easy' instead of inserting the structure at the beginning that is necessary to get to know someone … and yet if you don't do that, you run over your own self esteem because of a lack of enough to set a good thing up in the first place … they also address confusing deal breakers (superficial notions of what is a good fit) with standards and how that unnecessarily writes off people who deserve a chance and could be good fits if you just dated enough to find this out instead of hooking up or moving on to another hangout/hookup! it's a laugh-out-loud book and yet it's cutting in its wisdom. I am not being paid to endorse it; I just find it a fast-tracker to the next level of where I want to be. I literally hit a wall at age 37 where I knew without a doubt that my approach was flawed. This has been my answer. It just makes sense. Best Wishes. Emily

  18. tridentgirl says:

    And after many days, the seedling poked through the darkness and the dirt to discover the gentle, early morning light. Dewy tears had collected and then were gently wiped away by the sweet, sweet dawn. A new day, a new life, a new perspective was born.

  19. edieyoga says:

    Waylon: Great article, full of many truths. Thank you. Am posting to FB main page. Don't think anyone beat me to it…will double check.
    You know when I googled you I thought you were much older than you seem to be….Letting feelings move in us, not easy, always a process. I think it is a Native American saying that goes something like the more your heart breaks the stronger it grows. [I am not doing it justice.] Takes a certain courage. Every heart ache and break from romance to friends has taught me more and takes feeling deeper. I used to think things got easier with age. I think we get practice at hurting and healing. But honestly there's a deeper tenderness, so even though it may have happened several times each time is different. In AA they say you go through it till you grow through it. I believe everyone should have their heart ripped out at least once before entering into a committed relationship. Anything is possible…but not everything.
    And I love EJ and what opportunities this has given me.
    Om Shanti.

  20. edieyoga says:

    Darn. It's been posted.

  21. Aurora says:

    Me likey. Good advice. Just getting to #10 again.

  22. Jodee says:

    This resonates. Thank you…and following your advice with respect to #10. Do you wanna go out?

    By the way, here's what I recently wrote on this topic: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/07/so-what-im

  23. Esthersquest says:

    Bless! I got my heart broken the big way – about this time last year – and I followed all the same steps, and got through it. My heart is still broken, but in a good way.

  24. […] itself as an opportunity to be in relationship. In other words, it often seems that the only way to set my heart free is to deal with the pain and terror—real or perceived because my perception is my […]

  25. […] RON SOMBILON MEDIA, ART and PHOTOGRAPHY I am not afraid of being hurt though it is never ever easy. I cry to process emotion and write poems to understand myself from the inside […]

  26. […] the present moment. After a break-up we mostly get scared about the future, feeling hurt and keeping our wound open by replaying the stories in our minds. We have been looking at the pictures and feel like we […]

  27. […] to retreat to my room, turn off the light, get under my covers and forget the day. I would feel so incredibly empty inside, that it didn’t feel like there was anyone on the planet who could help me fill my void. I […]

  28. […] them. After all, these lists represent all 
that they desire. Yet I see drooping shoulders, sense broken hearts, 
and hear cracked, unsure voices as they voice these […]

  29. Karen says:

    Through circumstances of life (and funds!) I find myself living with the person who broke my heart – I have found it difficult to heal and move forward. I have discovered that meditation, yoga, and nature have been my most powerful healing helpers – the tears still come, but not as often, and sometimes I even feel better afterwards.

  30. Debbie says:

    I agree that EJ has helped me go through and recognize the myriad of emotions that a breakup will throw you through. And yup, 7 years here too. Sigh~

  31. LauraeMarie says:

    must be the season or the moon for beak-ups .. so much synchronicity. thanks so much for this post at the perfect time to reassure me i am on the (mostly) right path.

  32. DMS2 says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this. I only wish I had seen it when you first posted it, as I was going through almost exactly the same thing on that day. I have only recently started in earnest on this path, and the person who helped get me on the path is the one who decided, several months after going from a “teacher/student” relationship (opening up and working to heal wounds from past relationships, as well as other issues I spent years not dealing with) to an intimate relationship that we should now just be friends. I was at a point where I finally felt things making more sense and was learning to deal with old hurts, long-term unemployment, and general feelings of uselessness when I had my world turned upside down again.

    I hope I now have the maturity and am able to use some new-found skills to deal with what feels like betrayal, but it definitely helps to know I’m not alone and that it happens to even the most enlightened of souls.

    Thank you again for sharing, it was a big boost to me and my still raw/tender emotions!

  33. Ashley says:

    being true in action and in expression, being true to yourself, take so much courage. Thanks for sharing, sorry to know you were hurting 🙂 namste

  34. carrie says:

    Thank you for this. I needed to read this today.

  35. m says:

    This comes my way as I sit and ponder how quickly I came unraveled today and my old pain and fear of rejection was exposed. I’ve been hoping and looking for nothing, and I am happy that way. It’s easier and more comfortable for me to be alone snd distant even in a relationship. Yet letting someone have a peek at my soul, I find myself in heartbreaking anguish over possible rejection. I could very quickly throw those lines, “I’m not ready”, I could very easily pull back and say it’s easy to be happily unattached, but that would not be exploring the fear and the vulnerability and sitting with it and calming the anxiety and growing, or relearning trust. My point, is that on the other end of you we sometimes use zen as an excuse to stay in comfort and that is not how we let the past go, or how we move with courage. Courage to be open to rejection, and to sit with it as you are, as I am, is the middle but harder road.

  36. Jill says:

    Sounds like the sorry of my life, about 5 years ago. They’re married now. On a good note, I’m now happy for him vs sad for me!

  37. Arista says:

    Sometimes, something just falls your way at the exact moment you need it. I think happening across this article is one of those times. Wonderful piece, Mr. Lewis. 🙂

  38. Robert says:

    It’s hard to think about, even after all this time as passed. She left and just destroyed my heart. Although it has been 4 years, I am still not ready to move on. Maybe this cut was too deep to recover from or maybe it’s just my heart hiding from love, not wanting to be broken again. I still wish her love and light. I just need to figure out how to let it go.

  39. Seif says:

    Hi Guys,

    My heart been broke couple times before. But each times it happned i always bounce back to find goodness in it. I’ll let karma be my teacher to my life. Is really hard in healing, but i manage somehow.

    But the time that i consume from a heart breaks normally took years. Until i’m ready to fall in love again. Recently i meet up a girl, who steal my heart at the 1st glance. I got to know her, put my heart at a risk again. But it seems i never learned anything, when i give my heart to her more than i kept it for myself. Now i broke my heart, maybe because i’m expecting too much. I don’t know. It just after years you live your life without that kind of love, made me expect things that not real.

    She said she loves me, evertime i want to walk away, she stops me. But when we are together. She made me feel like i’m nodbody. Sometime i felt like i just in her way. I want to get out from this. But i just too afraid being alone again. Next month i will be 27 years old. All of my best friends already in the next step of life. But i’m still stuck here. Waiting for someone who wants me sincerely.

    Just sharing, cause i don’t know who to talk to anymore.

    Hope you all happy in love. =)

  40. Robert says:

    I don’t have a 7. Sadly enough I’m 43 M and in the military. I really need a break.

  41. Jessalyn says:

    Oh Waylon. Your honesty and realness always resonates so deeply with me, even when the message is simple or familiar. It DOES seem that the way of peace and mindfulness is also a consistently broken-hearted way – if not for my own loneliness and desire to connect intimately, then always, ALWAYS for the suffering of the world around me. And it’s true…it can hurt to FEEL SO MUCH but it does keep me connected to the world, to my humanity AND my universality…Yes, I would rather be sad and heart-broken than false and heartless. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Jaime 3177 S says:

    I met someone who due to circumstances can’t be with me..we have a great connection and maybe abit more. .I still get butterflies when I see him. .we are colleagues so he’s a constant reminder of what could have been..need to work on step #8 and #10..thanks for this..a little less heart broken. .and abit more courage

  43. lia says:

    I want you to let go. It’s been a little over 4 months for me and someone recently told me I may never get over it. I cried even more thinking I woudn’t ever be the same again, and mad at myself for entering a realtionship that could cause so much pain. I deperately want to let go. To not think of him again, just like the boyfriends from my past that I have not thought of in years and are only a shimmer of memory. I want to be in the present and have hopes for the future. But my head is 80% wrapped up and I know he is living his life. I have not reached the “happy for him” stage.

    I want to know it is possible, so please tell me you can let go!

  44. Guy says:

    Wow ….. I thought I was the only one going through this

  45. Lindsay says:

    I loved this. As I face my own heartbreak, I see the space it deserves because of the feeling of loss. I love deeply and equally deeply I mourn. Yet I’m grateful to have had this beautiful thing in my life and the great lessons & blessings it has brought me. Being in this moment hurts so exquisitely. I tend to my wounds with love & compassion. Learning to love myself in the face of such a loss is probably one of the best lessons.