I left my yoga mat last night feeling renewed, open, hopeful and ready for whatever the next 24 hours might bring. I love that post-yoga feeling– it’s like hitting a refresh button for the body.
It got me thinking– what if we could hit a refresh button for our hearts? Yoga for the heart. Instead of hip-openers, heart-openers. (No mat–or Lululemon–required.)
Why is this not yet a real thing?
We’ve ALL experienced the Black Heart, as I tend to call it. When your Open Heart drains of all emotion, adrenaline, energy, beating, wanting. It includes feeling closed, alone, stuck, unworthy, perhaps even cynical or hopeless. It makes you particularly unwilling to take a risk. It makes you focus on things that don’t matter. It makes you blame arbitrary experiences, relationships or circumstances. It makes you put up walls miles high.
I don’t think Black Heart is all bad. It’s your heart entering survival mode, to protect you and keep you safe while you make sense of–and heal–from the past. And most importantly, the lows of Black Heart are what make us appreciate the highs of Open Heart.
I think the goal is not to avoid Black Heart altogether, but to swiftly move out the state while learning and growing from it as much as possible.
Here are some ideas below to beat the Black Heart and open your heart back up again.
Yoga for the Heart // Heart-openers:
Tell someone how you feel.
There’s nothing like the feeling of being honest. Carrying around feelings we don’t express can make the heart feel heavy and congested. Express them. Call, meet, write, sing a dang song. Be specific. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Your heart will release a great weight when you tell someone how you truly feel.
Let go of whatever you’ve been holding onto for too long.
We all have a story we tell ourselves. “I’m bad at relationships.” “He broke my heart.” “My parents fucked me up.” What if you re-wrote your story? What if you released this belief you have about yourself and created a new one? I’m a firm believer in recognizing issues, understanding them backward and forwards, and working through them until you feel “cured”. But bigger issues linger, they pop up in new & unexpected ways. Our issues will always want to drive us. It’s your decision if you want to keep taking a back seat, or finally, take control of the wheel.
We stand in our own way. We waste (A LOT) of our own time. We need to pick a day, wake up, and decide to let that shit go.
Release an expectation you have.
Expectations are the mother of all evil. When you stop expecting, you lighten your heart’s load and live more in the now. You will become overall less disappointed by the things you don’t expect from friends, lovers, work and life. Less disappointment means greater happiness. It’s daunting to consider having absolutely zero expectations, but start focusing on one area, or one relationship and removing as many expectations you might have. It will create space for more joy and surprise.
Spend quality time with someone who knows you well.
Being around people who know you is the absolute best medicine. They are your roots. They are your core. They will remind you of who you are. Being around someone who grounds you in this way can help put everything into perspective and remind you of what really matters. They can help you make sense of your life’s larger journey and help remind you of what it is you want in your life.
Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried–but you’ve actually been planted. It’s time now to practice self-love to allow yourself to break through the soil and bloom. Take extra great care of your sleeping, eating and exercising habits. Treat yourself as kindly as possible with massages, meditation, acupuncture, baths, relaxation, hydration, fresh air, sunshine and good nutrition. Self-care is not only these aforementioned things–it can be deciding to not have lunch with a toxic co-worker who drains all your energy. It can be skipping a party in order to make yourself a really healthy meal and watching a movie. Self-care doesn’t have to cost anything–it simply means consistently putting your needs first.
Review your gratitude.
Watch the sunset. Go for a run. Sit in the grass with your dog. Whatever you choose, create a peaceful zone, and set a timer for 10 minutes. Next, allow yourself to think of all the small and large things you are grateful for in your life–and say them out loud. Allow your gratitude to flow out of your mouth until your timer goes off. This helps shift your mindset to what IS, not what is lacking.
Get a pet.
Nothing opens your heart like caring for and loving an animal. Your heart will never be the same. Ever. Enough said.
Follow your heart.
Your heart will tell you everything you need to know. Practice listening to it, talking to it, nurturing it, connecting with it. Heart opening is not an overnight process. But the more you work at it, the more open it will be…and stay. Your heart will be full again, your heart will be whole again, your heart will believe again.