Last week at yoga, my instructor gave me a new routine with poses for opening my chest a bit more. Maybe because of this, I began to consider opening my heart a bit more.
I don’t generally lead with my heart. Most times, I approach situations with my guard up, even a little. Lately, I try to recognize the feeling of impending doom that makes me put that guard up, and instead, I work to shift my heart to open (as much as I can – I am still new at this!).
For example, the other day, I smoothly glided into a parking space at the grocery store, inadvertently cutting off the woman who was waiting for it. Only after I drove past her car and into the space did I see her angry expression.
She snagged another nearby space so I hoped that all was well, though I cringed inside as she got out of her car. I could feel her fury three cars away and I felt my defenses move into place. When it comes to interpersonal interactions, I generally feel like I can handle almost anything, so thankfully a new approach felt more experimental than scary. I shifted to open my heart and walked toward her.
I approached her, immediately and sincerely apologized, and even offered to trade spots. She was still angry when she spoke to me, but the whole interaction felt different than I expected, at least from my end. Retrospectively, this “open heart” approach seemed to allow her feelings flow through me, rather than bounce off my armor. This was even kind of fun.
Fast forward to chemo. I start by getting my port accessed. A nurse jabs the port (which is in my chest) with a needle that will stay there for three days. This needle, with a tube dangling from it, enables them draw out blood and pour in chemo and IV fluids as needed without finding new veins every other week.
As soon as they start prepping my skin for the jab, my inner self escapes to a better place while they do any invasive or uncomfortable procedures to my body.
This time around, I noticed the similarities between the feelings I have just before they access the port and the protective feelings I have in other situations. In that split second, I wondered, what would happen if I approached this with an open heart.
So I opened my heart to a situation involving smelly alcohol rubs, a needle, bandage and a nurse totally invading my happiness circle, all in the name of a larger healing. This time, the open heart exercise was decidedly not fun. But here is what came to mind: How the HELL did Jesus keep an open and loving heart through that entire crucifixion when I struggle to do it for this short process to access my port? And this didn’t even kill me (even if someone later thought that I was dead). I surely got a new appreciation for that scene.
One week later, Tiron and I went to a Wynton Marsalis Gospel concert and these lyrics jumped out at me, driving the point further home:
Our Lord gave with loving kindness
On Mount Calvary
Though I always appreciate these insights through pain, I truly appreciate that it is way more fun to practice having an open heart with you.
Love and blessings,