Dick grew up as an only child of an older couple. His parents were not bad people, but neither of them knew a thing about raising children. They both came from abusive families and never intended to have a child, both fearful about the possibility of repeating their own childhood. Once they found had a child, it seems that they attempted to protect him by distancing themselves as much as possible and leaving him to raise himself.
I met Dick as an adult. Not having experienced anything approaching a connected, loving family, he not only could not imagine having children, he couldn’t imagine marrying. But three years before I met him, he went on a camping trip and long-story-short, met a woman whose warmth and humor broke right through his shell. He was totally vulnerable to her and he began to understand love.
Six years later, she was diagnosed with a particularly unresponsive cancer. She was grace incarnate as she moved with strength and courage through surgery and chemotherapy. Her quirky humor remained strong and her love for Dick never wavered. When the doctors told her there was nothing else they could do, she did everything in her power to prepare Dick for her death. She set up friends who would be a support system to help him reconnect with life in her absence.
One year to the day after her memorial service, Dick died of a massive heart attack. When my husband called to tell me, I said, without thinking a second, “His heart finally broke.”
Hearts do break. Hearts can also heal. Hearts can turn to stone and hearts can melt. Hearts can close down and shut out, and hearts can also open as wide as the horizon. Hearts can warm and hearts can be cold as ice. Hearts can fall, but hearts can also rise and grow and stretch. It depends on how you respond to what happens to you and how clear you keep your fourth energy node.
The fourth energy node, the one in the center of the chakra column, is the Heart Chakra. It is the seat of love – love of self and love of others. It is the chakra that allows us both to receive and to give love. Heart Chakra fills the space from behind the breastbone all the way to the shoulder blades.
The flow of energy through our body as it unfolds through the metaphor or image of the chakras is not haphazard. The source of our energy rises and pools in the Root Chakra providing a well to nurture all the aspects of our full humanity. Root Chakra reminds us that we are deeply connected to and dependent on the earth. We may experience that as the Power of the Universe, G-d, Life Force, Spirit. Without that connection, we drift ‘rootless’ through existence, alienated from the vast tapestry of energy that empowers us.
From a strongly-connected Root Chakra, energy rises to the Belly Chakra, inspiring us to mimic the Sacred, the Whole and Holy, by being (ourselves) life-givers and life-creators. As the energy continues to flow upward (as the chakras imagine that ‘welling of life energy’), it enables us to know who we truly are and what we hold to be most important. When the energy flows unimpeded through the Solar Plexus Chakra, we embody our values with confidence, and we answer our unique call with enthusiasm. Until we have confidence in our Self, until we know who we are and what we believe, it is extremely difficult to love either ourselves or anyone else.
When the energy is able to continue its path through an open Heart Chakra, we are able to be vulnerable and generous. From a strong center and a sense of our own value, we are able to reach out beyond ourselves to the souls we meet, to care compassionately for others, who we recognize as valuable simply because they exist. When Heart Chakra is blocked, deep scars can form, holding back pains that we were unable or unwilling to experience. Opening the scars – usually with the help of a counselor or therapist or wise spiritual companion – releases the pain and enables life energy to move onward and outward.
If you know or suspect you have heart scars, I urge you to be very gentle with yourself and to find an experienced companion. So, use the following guided meditation with care. If you stumble on a place of pain, you may want to take a deep breath and step back until you can be with someone who can provide emotional and spiritual support.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing that. If you would prefer to keep your eyes open, you may want to find something green on which to focus (a growing plant, a piece of cloth, the tree outside your window). Allow your eyes to relax and go soft – receive the color gently, let the focus be gentle rather than intense or grasping.
Begin to breathe deeply, allowing your breath to slow as you sink into a quiet awareness of your body at rest in time and space.
When you feel centered, at rest, still, let your awareness drift into the fourth node behind your breastbone. You may want to lay your hand gently on that place and feel your chest rise and fall with your breath. As you inhale, let warmth flood into that space. Exhale. Inhale. Feel the warmth not only behind your breastbone, but beginning to infuse your whole body.
Let your mind drift to a time when you felt loved not for anything you did, but simply for who you are. This memory may include another person (a parent, sibling, grandparent, spouse, teacher, friend). If so, welcome that person into your heart-mind-spirit. Invite them to share these moments with you.
Allow that moment of being loved to be fully present. If you can, allow the scents, the sounds, the tastes, the textures of that memory enfold you fully.
When you experience yourself as lovable and loved, how do you ‘feel’ in your body? Is it a tingling, a warmth, a peace, a sense of release? a sense of balance? excitement? comfort? Let your consciousness drift through your body – where do you feel love (for instance, your torso, your arms, your belly, your heart node, the palms of your hands)?
Staying with your body awareness, remember a time when you embodied-expressed love for another. Where and how do you feel that love? When you are expressing or embodying love, are you more aware of Self? or less aware? or differently aware? Do you feel energized or quiet, afraid or totally confident? Does love feel safe to you? or dangerous?
Without judging yourself, notice whether the energy behind your breastbone feels smooth and flows unimpeded, or whether it feels blocked or erratic or depressed?
When you are ready, express gratitude for having been loved and gratitude for being able to give love.
Take three or four deep breaths and open your eyes slowly and gently, or refocus and be present here and now.
I invite you to spend this week gathering memories of love…as many kinds of love as you can remember. Think of the ways you love yourself (caring for yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually). Think of the ways you love others, ways you love ideas, values, the earth, other species. We use the word ‘love’ about material possessions, people we admire, people we live with, food, places. Consider how those loves are similar and how they are different…
Consider how real love enriches your life, allows you to take risks, to trust others and yourself.
I invite you to find more opportunities to love into risks, into trust, into abundance.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2016, Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: The first photo is from the Brough of Birsay (Orkney). The second is Heart Chakra from the set of chakra pieces I am making over these seven weeks. It will be going up in my Etsy shop shortly. If you are interested in owning it, let me know. The third is from my 21-Day Exploration-Journey.
NOTE 2: If you haven’t seen my Facebook page (Immram Chara), please check it out. I post there almost every day. If you are willing (and haven’t already), please Like the page…and pass it along to friends. Thank you.