Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com
Our heart is a peculiar place. On the one hand, it’s THE major organ that pumps blood, energy and oxygen through our bodies allowing us to inhabit this human form. On the other hand, it is the proverbial seat of our emotional life. We tend to feel in the heart, even if our feelings are generated by our brain (which is of course also influenced by the neurons in our body, including in the heart and gut).
For the purposes of this article, I’m not talking about the 4-chamber blood pump but rather about the place inside your chest in which you can sense emotions such as sadness or love.
Our hearts can either be open, or they can be closed. There might be some stages in between as well, but it takes a lot of awareness to sense these small nuances. I’m not quite there yet.
An open heart allows us to look at the world, look at others in an open and joyful way. We are open to the input of others, open to meeting new people, open to sensing what goes on with others. An open heart feels wonderful. If we could choose, we would probably wish for our hearts to be open all the time.
However, there are situations in which our heart closes. When we get angry, or afraid, or when we feel sadness and don’t want to reach out to others. At these times we pull back into ourselves. This is not a ‘bad’ thing to do. We sometimes need to close our hearts (or our hearts close themselves) in order to protect ourselves. When someone’s throwing insults at you, it might be better to have some sort of emotional shield up rather than to take in all of that emotional garbage.
So it’s important to note that one isn’t necessarily better than the other. An open heart has its opportunities, and a closed heart does too. There’s a time and place for each of these.
It is, however, also important to feel which is which and to be aware of when and why your heart closes. Do you find it difficult to connect because you’re actually feeling overwhelmed? Or are you retreating back to yourself because your partner triggered an underlying trauma?
There are times when a closed heart can be damaging to a situation, even if the intent is to protect ourselves. We might perceive something as a threat that isn’t actually a threat at this stage of our lives. When someone points out a mistake we’ve made, we could respond defensively or with an open and understanding attitude. Which of those would lead to more healing?
Opening your heart while it’s closed can be tricky, but there’s a very good technique called ‘Heart Coherence’ which helps. There are many online videos that can help guide you through this simple technique, such as the one below. Once you become familiar with the process, however, it doesn’t take 15 minutes each time to drop into your heart center. You can practice it throughout your daily life at moments in which you feel the space around your heart tightening.
Practicing to keep an open heart can be a really transformational practice. It can encourage love, kindness, gratitude and healing in your relationships and your life.
Being aware of when your heart closes and why can be equally important to grow self-awareness and learn where your own boundaries lie.
Overall, knowing when my heart is open and when it is closed has become key information in my relationship. Noticing when my partner’s heart is open or closed has made me a better partner, as well. It was he who first shared the heart coherence technique with me, so it’s only fair he benefits as much as I do. 😉