March 9, 2013

How To Open Your Heart. ~ Karen Nourizadeh

Photo: flatworldsedge

Opening your heart means that you make the effort to step into the shoes of another and see what they are seeing, thinking or feeling.

A yogi student of mine admitted to me that after all the years that she has been practicing yoga, she still doesn’t understand what it means when we say, “open your heart,” in yoga.

As much as I’d love to think that I’m the universal interpreter of what it means, I am not. But, I can tell you what it means to me, and in what ways I have opened my heart.

After you read some of my interpretations it may sound like it’s easy to do, or like a no-brainer. But sometimes dark moods crawl over your being and prevent you from knowing your heart, let alone opening it.

In times of dark we need to seek—with much courage and conviction—our inner light, which lies within our hearts.

Opening your heart does not mean that you “love” or are “in love” with another at all times, in all situations, no matter what. It means that you surrender to what is, rather than resisting and wishing for what is not.

It means setting aside your own ego and fears—the “little me”— to embrace compassion and empathy for another, without interpreting, judging or analyzing, and without condition or an underlying agenda.

It doesn’t mean losing your sense of Self, because you can never lose your true Self. Yet, we often get lost in our false selves—our egos.

Most people understand how to open their heart to those who are vulnerable or from whom we want or need something.

In reality, we all need each other, no matter our age, race, ethnicity or color. We all need more compassion and understanding.

Understanding that not everyone has the same upbringing, culture, values or needs, even if they happen to be raised in the same household (sometimes family challenges our heart opening the most), is one of the first steps you can take to open your heart to another.

With that level of understanding we can begin to embrace others’ differences, rather than chastising them for not being the same.

Our ego, our survival mechanism, might feel threatened by another, which prevents us from being compassionate, empathetic or understanding.

But just as the ego likes to find a solution to one problem, it loves to create problems in other areas, which often throws us into a cycle of pleasure/pain.

Opening your heart means that you make the effort to step into the shoes of another and see what they are seeing, thinking or feeling.

Even if you cannot imagine what this person has suffered in his/her lifetime, the effort of trying to understand is the very act of opening your heart.

Be mindful of fear, anxiety, guilt or shame, as these are all emotions which will slam your heart’s door shut. Be aware of your traumas, stories and drama; they will also catapult you away from your heart’s opening.

This morning I ordered a tea at a very busy coffee shop in mid-town, and the cashier treated me as if I were a piece of lint.

I knew if I said, “Thank you, have a nice day,” it wouldn’t have mattered. I’d seen others in line do it—she didn’t break out of her cool edginess; she remained robotic-like and seemingly drained.

Instead, I whipped out one of my homemade “Follow Your Heart” magnets. On it is a scripted piece of my poem inspiring others to follow their hearts.

As I handed it to her, I said, “This is for you. It’s a magnet to remind and inspire you to follow your heart’s voice.”

Her expression changed, and her eyes glowed as her smile grew. She thanked me and I could see her heart shining through the bleak of her morning.

In these small ways we can open our hearts to others. Doing so has a synergistic effect, bringing us to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a human living in a very frenetic and often ungracious world.

If you open your heart to others, you will find that your heart is open to allow others’ love, understanding and compassion as well. And what could be more of a win/win?

Is your heart open, or is it your ego? How can you get in touch with and open your heart?

Please share, I would love to hear!


Karen Nourizadeh, a “recovering attorney,” is now a yoga instructor with Pure Yoga and New York Sports Clubs as well as a writer and media contributor. Karen freed herself from law and the corporate world to help people heal themselves, mentally and physically, through yoga. Karen is completing her first work, a memoir, detailing her struggle to get out of law, find herself and fulfill her destiny. On a spiritual quest, Karen encounters a mysterious 10-year-old Indian boy, who introduced himself as “Goldie Hawn’s son.” The boy teaches Karen lessons of the heart through his pure, honest, uncalculated actions. He affirms to her what is already in her heart, and helps to free her from her worst enemy, her mind. Follow Karen on Facebook and Twitter.

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Assistant Ed: Stephanie V./Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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