Having an open-heart is a highly valued quality these days-- especially if you are a person who identifies with being open-minded, progressive, conscious, inclusive, or any other adjective that implies you are an optimistic person, hip with the times! An open heart is a beautiful thing... and I do believe it is an important quality to cultivate in oneself. To me, an open heart is a welcoming one; it is warm, compassionate, accepting, ready to connect with others, and available for self inquiry and evolution!
I see the open-heart, as a spectrum, that varies depending on the situation and people involved. The spectrum spans a far distance, and at some point... that openness can be extremely raw and vulnerable. I have been cultivating a practice of open-heartedness that requires full surrender. And what this sometimes feels like, is that my heart is alive and throbbing, placed on a cutting board with a huge kitchen knife resting by it. It can be pretty scary... because at any moment someone may walk by and use that knife to chop it up into a bunch of stir-fry sized pieces! For me, the practice is to trust that it will not be butchered to smithereens. And to know that if it does get sliced into by a curious sous chef or falls on the floor and nibbled on by a kitty, it will recover! This helps me to cultivate trust in Spirit, God, or whatever you choose to call The Great Mystery. It helps me to live my life authentically, being fully present -- fully "in" whatever I am doing. Sometimes that vulnerable place is exuberant; full of joy, soaking in all the bliss and sunshine around. Sometimes that place is very tender and delicate; sad, hurt, angry, and pained.
The good news, is that this process is a figment of my imagination! I can always take my heart off the table and set it safely back inside my chest, where it can feel protected and at ease. However, I like it on that board! I love the lessons and insights that come when I am so deeply raw and vulnerable. When I allow myself to really feel everything, without trying to stop it or hold back... so much grace flows into my life. Even the hard times, eventually bring fruitful lessons that I am grateful for.
I see my life as a mystical experiment, and I am the scientist who gets to set it all up, observe it, debrief it, and write the articles! There is so much to understand about the inner-workings of the human mind, heart, body, and spirit. So much wisdom can be received from slowing down, opening our hearts, feeling deeply, and allowing appropriate time and space for integration of those experiences. I have definitely been feeling it these days... that roller coaster ride of existence! Thank Godess for a body that feels and the ability to experience and contemplate life. For my open, raw, vulnerable heart... I am forever grateful.
And as an aside: I want to emphasize that this is a "practice." Like all spiritual practices, it is not for everyone, and it is also for everyone, in varying degrees and levels. Anyone who wants to cultivate this practice more, feel free to reach out for support or create your own experiment. I recommend starting with something small... a small experiment, something really simple to track and observe. Increase from there, at your own speed.