June 13, 2017

8 Ways to Open & Soften our Hearts.

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” ~ Charles Dickens


Bring your awareness to your heart.

Take a pause in your busy day for one precious moment. Breathe in love, breathe out gratitude.

It is a miracle simply to be alive and conscious. Take a look around. Appreciate the beauty and perfect imperfection of this moment, right here and now.

Anahata chakra, the heart center, is the fourth energy point, located at the center of the seven main chakras in yogic philosophy. It unites the three lower chakras with the three upper points.

Anahata means “unstruck” in Sanskrit. Its color is green, its element is air, and its sense is touch. The core issues at this point are related to love, friendship, kindness, generosity, gratitude, and compassion. The challenges here include ill will, envy, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and pity. Grief is the experience of love lost, the inevitable shadow side of the heart.

At present, pretty much every single one of us on the planet could benefit from opening and healing our heart chakra. May these suggestions be of benefit.

Eight ways to connect with the heart chakra.

1. Love your parents.

The Buddha’s teachings are quite clear on this point:

“Even if one should carry about one’s mother on one shoulder and one’s father on the other, and so doing should live a hundred years…Moreover, if one should set them up as supreme rulers, having absolute rule over the wide earth abounding in the seven treasures—not even by this could one repay one’s parents. And why! Bhikkhus, parents do a lot for their children: they bring them up, provide them with food, introduce them to the world. ~ Anguttara Nikaya

For some, love for our parents comes naturally. We can easily send them metta (loving-kindness), wishing that they may be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful, and free. If you do not feel this immense love for your mother and father, work with forgiveness. Being able to truly love and care for these special beings is a foundation of healing for our wounded hearts.

2. Cherish the temple of your body.

Self-care is quite the buzz word of late. In the rush of life, caring about others, about work, about politics, about attainment of possessions and status can overshadow the essential importance of authentically loving ourselves. Loving the self means being mindful of what we are putting into our bodies and minds. It also means loving our shape and size in this moment and knowing our skin and our faces are beautiful, unique, and worthy of our love.

3. Do what you love; love what you do.

It’s a cliche for a reason—when we act from the heart and do the work that our heart feels most passionate about, we are happiest and most productive. Of course, what we love naturally changes and fluctuates over time.

A personal example: During my 10-year career as a schoolteacher, I felt great love for my students and loved sharing my knowledge of the world, language, and literature with them. Over the years, that love faded away and was replaced by anger at the oppressive system of traditional classrooms. I no longer loved what I did, so I found something else to do—something that feeds my love for writing, yoga, and helping others. The evolution is ever in process. Check in with your heart each day, do what you love, and let your inner light shine forth!

4. Practice chest and shoulder openers.

The heart chakra reigns over not only the chest; its territory also extends to the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. All backbends are heart openers, from gentle spinal flexion to the full wheel. Do shoulder circles, arm balances like plank, wrist circles, and finger stretches. Appreciate your hands and all they do for you each day. Give yourself a hug. Gift yourself a massage. Rub your loved one’s shoulders. Breathe and imagine loving energy moving from your heart center outward to your fingertips and beyond.

5. Use aromatherapy and healing stones.

The essential oils that activate anahata energy include orange blossom, rose, jasmine, lavender, and rosemary. We can burn nag champa, orris root, and meadowsweet incense. Wearing gems and stones like rose quartz, malachite, green tourmaline, opal, and ruby assist in healing and aligning heart energy. It’s also useful to place these gems and stones on our meditation altars.

6. Eat food for the heart that is made with love.

We can nourish our hearts by intentionally eating greens that reconnect us with the air element. These include fresh basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, and leafy greens from kale to spinach to arugula to good old lettuce. Intend to eat more meals that have been prepared with loving-kindness by yourself or someone you know. Sit and eat slowly, enjoying each bite and taking a break from work and business matters.

7. Go for green color therapy.

The color of the heart chakra is green. The green of the leaves blowing in the breeze; the green of the natural spring into which you wade; the green of the stems of the splendid fields of wildflowers; the green of the light that says “go.” Surround yourself with green, wear green clothing, paint a green scene, and last but not least, embody green—meaning be an eco-conscious warrior of sustainability and love.

8. Love the everyday unfolding of life.

Life is such a long, strange, gorgeous, magical trip. Suffering is a part of life, not to be avoided or resisted, but rather to be expected, welcomed, dealt with by feeling the feelings, and accepting and acknowledging whatever emotions or ideas are arising in each moment. The essential job of the heart center is to cultivate love for all experiences and all beings without exception.

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~ Maya Angelou

“Love loves to love love.” ~ James Joyce

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

“Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow.” ~ John Lennon



Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Image: Flickr/Jakobien van der WeijdenFlickr/Julie Gibbons
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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