I took this photo last year in early spring - these sweet wild blossoms grow near the beach, and they are tiny. I had to get in really close to appreciate the delicacy and beauty of the little flower. There is something about this image that reminds me of an open, vulnerable heart - of how my heart has been feeling lately. I'm not sad; life is good. I'm contented. I'm just open; I feel newly awake. I have invested a lot of time, energy, and desire in peeling away the layers to expose this sensitive place, this new, soft self. I have yearned for this change! But now it feels a little scary. I am tentatively, gradually learning to live life from a less defended, less armoured place, and also learning that there is true strength and greater resiliency in this more open approach. I'm definitely beyond my comfort zone, and I know that is the place where we grow! So today I celebrate the wild and open heart. Here are some simple but powerful tools I have used to cultivate open heartedness:
- Read the books of Pema Chodron. This American Buddhist nun is a gifted teacher whose writings urge mindfulness, gentleness and radical self acceptance.
- When you are angry, count to 90 before acting or speaking (I count backwards because it occupies my mind more!) 90 seconds is just how long it takes for the most intense of the brain chemicals inspired by anger to flush out of our system. Just 90 seconds. Try it.
- Practice Yin Yoga. This discipline takes you to your edge of discomfort - just a small safe distance beyond your comfort zone - and lets you hold that space for long enough to observe yourself and build courage and acceptance.
- Take a gentle but honest look - just a look - at your "shadow comforts;" the distractions you habitually turn to when your inner life becomes uncomfortable.
- Most of all, be kind to yourself. My aunt, a truly loving person, has a code word for this, which she'll use to remind you to be loving towards yourself: toy cups: Take Care Of Your Precious Self.