February 13, 2014

How an Empty Heart Can Lead to Peacefulness: One Simple Practice. ~ Marika Singer


This is the Chinese as well as the Japanese character, for “heart.”

Also translated as mind, soul, core but not to be mixed up with “shen ( 神 )” which is the spirit that houses in the heart. (I know too many details about Chinese medicine (for those who are not as into it as I am) but it’s so interesting!).

I’ve just started my master’s degree at Tri State College of Acupuncture in New York City.

We were once again going through the basic theory of Chinese medicine and one thing the lecturer said was completely new to me. He wrote this Chinese character on the white board and pointed out how this curved long line is open at the top.

He said, “The Heart should remain empty.”

I remember I was yearning for my heart to be filled with love and happiness. So I started with my daily practice of The Loving Kindness Meditation  two to three years ago, when I was severely heartbroken from an intimate relationship.

Here are the words that touched my heart at that time and made me start this meditation:

 “When your heart is broken, you can feel everything: your own sorrow, everyone else’s sorrow, but also their joy. Everything that happens touches you directly. When your heart is broken, the only thing that matters is love. You also know when love is present or absent: in someone’s eyes or voice, in every interaction. Looked at one way, a broken heart is a sign that you’re in terrible pain. But looked at another way, these qualities are the hallmarks of compassion. And so the Buddhist practices are about not closing your heart once it’s broken, but stabilizing it in the state of openness so you can maintain these deep qualities of wisdom—but without crying all the time.

My suggestions run counter to the conventional wisdom about heartbreak. If you look at the self-help shelves, there are a lot of books about how to get over it. No one wants to wallow in sorrow, so all of these books are about how to get away from it. That’s great, but it’s not going to help.

What I suggest instead is that you make room for these feelings exactly as they are without trying to manipulate them or abstract some kind of rational essence. Don’t distract yourself. Try to cut down on all your obligations; do only what is necessary. Make room for your heartbreak; develop a meditation practice or reinvest in a meditation practice if you already have one. Spend time with your feelings as they are. Also, I recommend the traditional Buddhist practice of loving kindness meditation. It’s 2,500 years old and yet modern at the same time. This is the practice of stabilizing your heart in the open state and of beginning to make this shift from ‘I want love in my life; I need someone to love me’ to ‘I want love in my life; I am going to give love in every opportunity.”

~ Susan Piver 

So, in traditional Chinese medicine the Heart is considered to be a full, solid, Yin organ that is seen as a pump that distributes blood and Qi throughout the body. Even western medicine agrees in terms of pumping the blood. But the statement of my lecturer was about emotions (which inevitably effect your Soma as well).

Now, my interpretation is to see the Heart filled full to the brim with emotions (most of them things we should have let go ages ago, right?) that are obstructing the free flow of Blood and Qi, needed for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

So, let’s clean up from inside out, nothing more rewarding than this.

Keep your Heart empty and open to the heavens like the openness illustrated in the Chinese character for it to lead you to peacefulness within us.

Start a Loving Kindness Meditation today. (There are a lot of beautiful instructions online to fit our needs, for a more acoustic or visual type )

Believe me it will make your life so much easier.

It did with mine.


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Assistant Editor: Laura Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: courtesy of author




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Marika Singer