From the clouds of sugary pink in the shop windows I have noticed that it’s Valentines season again.
It’s a time we are encouraged to open our hearts to the ones we love but that is not always a straight-forward proposition.
Few of us except the emotional super- heroes can open our hearts on demand without some ambivalence. Past heartbreaks from childhood, romantic alliances and the graft of day to day negotiations in long term relationships can all make us cautious (sometimes impossible) to open our hearts fully, on demand.
Hearts, like hips or shoulders require flexibility to be healthy. To open wide with your valentine perhaps, but also to close shut when walking home in the city at night or just open a little as you get to know someone or flutter with ambivalent feelings. Hearts, like the rest our bodies, require exercise to maintain flexibility.
Eastern medicine traditions have a meridian responsible for protecting and regulating the heart. The Heart protector meridian runs from the heart to the palms of the hands, running through the shoulders and down the arms. It operates like a venetian blind, opening and closing according to need. I find this particularly useful as involving the arms in this system includes the possibility of reaching out for love, for giving from the heart.
When I work with issues of the heart in Biodynamic massage treatments, I not only invite the tissue of the shoulders and arms to open to allow reaching out, but also inviting the energy to flow though . This often has the effect of softening the chest and allowing feelings and memories to be more present.
Here’s a little exercise for you, a meditation to maintain flexibility and bring your attention to your heart.
- Find a place without distractions
- Sit or lie comfortably
- Bring your attention to your breath
- Slow your breathing by increasing the length of your exhalation
- As you breath in, imagine you are breathing in through your heart.
- As you exhale, imagine the breath traveling down your arms to your palms.
- Keep breathing in through your heart and out through your arms.
The trick is to just notice how your heart is and be with it. No need to change or judge or be other than how you are, just notice the flow of energy, if your heart feels open or closed, stiff or well oiled.
Another way of maintaining flexibility in your heart is to do something joyful. Any thing that gladdens your heart will do; dancing, being in the country, music, ping pong …. Once you are able to open your heart protector in one situation, you will be better able to be open hearted with other people and allow the flow of heart energy to move you.
Whatever your romantic situation this week, I hope you can meet the world with an open, and when necessary, protected heart.