Breaking Our Hearts Open
There are times in our lives when the pain and the suffering are too much to bear; when the heart ache wants to eat us whole and all we want to do is go with it. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, or an argument with a friend, the sadness and feelings in our heart can overwhelm us and at points, convince us it might be too hard to carry on.
In the intense feelings, we want to run, we want to hide, we want to escape from the pain that slices us internally. This is the human experience. This is the full human experience. Buddhists call this Dukkha, human suffering. Clinging to what is or what isn’t, is dukkha. Sickness, death, things or situations not wanted, or separation from what we love is dukkha.
In realizing that you are not alone and forms of heart break exist everywhere and always, space in our suffering opens up. Even if we are still filled with despair, anguish, heart break, or anger, we must turn towards what’s real and present. In acknowledging the presence of all of our feelings, we allow our hearts to break open. We allow ourselves to heal and move forward.
Carl Jung, psychiatrist and influential thinker, says “what we resist, persists”. If we deny and push away our feelings, they will just reappear in some other way or grow larger as we push against them.
Facing our feelings; our broken hearts, our fits of rage, immeasurable sadness, or immense disappointments, is the way we can move through and come out on the other side. What we finally embrace, dissolves.
One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Tara Brach, guides a meditation on saying yes to your feelings and befriending the difficult ones.
She quotes Kofka,
“You can hold back from the suffering, you have free permission to do so, and it’s in accordance with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could have avoided.”
Check out this great meditation by Tara Brach on saying yes to the now: