I’ve been noticing that there seems to be more reasons to cry these days. The state of the world, child abuse, poverty, the spiritual ignorance of people in power, fires, floods, tornadoes, and the global economy are reasons enough to shut down and turn off. But what I’m talking about here are the things that touch my heart and open it – although for some certainly the above would do that.
For me it is the little things, not the global issues that I can easily distance myself from, that touch me in a way that breaks my heart open. For instance, several months ago on the news they did a human interest story about blind people who were being taught how to march in a marching band while playing their instruments. Volunteers led blind people through marching routines, guiding them gently from behind with hands on shoulders or hips, to give them the feel of where their bodies needed to be while they were playing. It was heart warming enough to realize that these blind people were actually playing a musical instrument. But the fact that a group of volunteers would help them to have an experience of marching in a band just blew me away. Their blindness did not stop them from experiencing their expression of life. Wow. And it was facilitated by those willing to be available to them – to help them realize their possibilities. It opened my heart…
Then recently I went to the pet store to get cat food for our cat – Yodi Bhodi. While there I spotted the adoption area where there were cats who had been abandoned by their owners – for whatever reason – in cages. They were listless, blank eyed, like their spirits were gone. (I had given a cat to a shelter several years ago when we had to move out of state.) Some of the younger ones were meowing, wanting to be taken away – to be held and loved. My heart broke open. I wanted to take them all home. But rationality took over, as well as knowing that Yodi would not allow another cat in his territory after nearly 18 years of being an “only child.” I left the store nearly in tears. My heart ached open… I went home and hugged my cat a little closer as he patiently waited for the moment of affection to end, not wanting to ruin his reputation as ‘cat of the house.’
And then there’s kindness. Recently while grocery shopping, I was standing in the produce section, picking through the potatoes, trying to find ones that weren’t green and soft. There was another woman there at the bin, doing the same thing. In a soft English accent she said – “they don’t look too good do they?” There was such kindness in her voice, it took me by surprise. Suddenly I wanted to cry. My heart stirred open… I hadn’t expected a stranger to make a connection. The kindness of her connection touched my heart and opened it for a moment. I responded, and then quietly slipped away – as if shocked by the encounter. But the exchange touched my heart and left a lasting imprint.
I think some of us in pursuit of “spirituality” or “enlightenment” have often gotten the idea that we need to distance from our feelings, even run from them – or “spiritualize” them. I know I have - trying to stay neutral when a feeling arises, to be “spiritual”, to step back from the feeling inside and observe, almost as if it was someone else’s experience. Even the concept of being present to feelings is sometimes done to not actually feel them. And while I don’t want to collapse into my feelings, indulge in them – well sometimes - and allow them to overtake me, there is something authentic in allowing and expressing the feelings that arise in the moment that makes me more open to others, more vulnerable and less detached. Feelings, as I have discovered, open the heart. When seen with the eyes of the Heart, they give the opportunity to open to what is deeper, underneath the feeling.
The longing of the Heart is for connection and kindness, and so it responds to these expressions – with feelings. Can we be open enough to allow these feelings in, to touch us, to open us to be real with ourselves and others… It seems that it's not the big events necessarily, but the "everydayness" of life that offers these opportunities, that softly invites us to open.
My other Heart openers are: Violins - Genuine Philanthropy - People who follow their Passion – Deer - Bunny Rabbits in the yard, when they’re not eating my plants - Good Spiritual Teachers – Laughter - Grief: mine and others - Genuine Compassion – The Blog and Buddha Art at ZenDotStudio.
What are your Heart Openers? Let me know… seriously…
Heart Smiles – MeANderi
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