This month as we reflect on the Hallmark holiday of Valentines and the pierce of love, I offer reflections and contemplations on expanding the capacity of our very own hearts.
One gift of practice on the mat is building a tangible and felt sense in our bodies of tolerance. This may show up in a lunge, noting the variations in sensation and movement from one side to the other. We may feel differences in our bodies from side to side, and the practice is to guide us into acceptance of what is. May we learn from our differences and begin to expand our capacity to welcome all that is.
As we practice this in our bodies, the links between our bodies, minds, and hearts are undeniable. The call of the practice is can we begin to live, be, move, and communicate with more awareness and more understanding for ourselves, and each other.
Can we lend our practice of welcoming tolerance and acceptance in our bodies to a community and world that is more receptive, understanding, and forgiving? Thich Nhat Hanh shares his reflections on the practice of cultivating a more expansive sense of acceptance and loving heart:
Heart like a River.
If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable.
But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink.
The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform.
When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer.
We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change.
But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore.
We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others.
We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.
So the big question is: how do we help our hearts grow?
– Thich Nhat Hanh
How do we help our hearts grow and welcome all that is? Perhaps we do so by continuing to practice staying available, calm, and present during heated disagreements. Maybe it is looking a loved one in the eyes and admitting that he/she/they too may be right and lending compassion for their point of view. Perhaps our hearts grow every time we forgive ourselves, accept ourselves, and share our shadows out loud. Perhaps our hearts grow when we can look at our neighbors and lend a helping hand, even amidst our own busy and full schedules. Maybe our hearts grow with just the simple realization that we are all dynamically connected to one another on this planet and we choose non-harm of all things. What we do to ourselves and others impacts everyone and everything.
I know one thing for sure, the more time I spend in conscious movement, breathing, and thinking, the more available I become to myself and others. This is one known way of cultivating a more open heart.
The opportunity to create more expansive hearts and deeper connections is available to each and everyone of us. Open your heart… share your love… embrace this amazing life and all that it is.
To you and your growing hearts,