In my last Plaid to Prada column, I mentioned the significance of living through my heart and how that altered my life. Without a doubt, opening my heart exposed a gateway that enabled me to be elevated into a new level of emotional and spiritual maturity. I’ve been asked to expand on what it means to open your heart on this week’s Spirituality column.
Our heart center is the house for love — both spiritual and physical. This is the meeting place where both worlds connect. Think of your heart as a temple. A temple for you to honor. Since we know the Divine Source lives within us, we can conclude that His home is in our heart. Our temple.
Honoring your own temple allows you to honor other temples as well. This cultivates compassion, empathy, love, acceptance, and tolerance. Before I became acquainted with my heart space, I was stuck living in my mental field. By doing so, I was always in a place of fear and aggression. I was completely shut off from openness. This caused a disconnect between my heart and the other energetic fields (i.e. chakras). Ultimately, this was a spiritual warfare. Physically, I also began shutting down. As I’ve previously mentioned over the last few months, my spiritual journey was catapulted as a result of [past] severe medical scares.
By focusing on my heart and the feeling of love within, I left the mental chatter behind.
If you’re experiencing relentless physical ailments, stuck in a pattern of attracting unfulfilled or toxic relationships, have a yearning desire for companionship, or are feeling that your interpersonal relationships are not moving forward, then you’re experiencing the result of having a closed heart.
Many excuse the longing for love as discontentment. People with this outlook believe life is unfulfilling. A friend told me the other day, “I have everything in life. I’m married to a great guy, I have an awesome career, and I live in the most prestigious neighborhood on the West Coast. But I woke up today feeling so unfulfilled. I feel so lonely.” Her life is not satisfying her ethereally. Her longing stems from a disconnect to the Source. However, since she took the first step in being vulnerable with this recognition, she started her awakening.
The simple act of experiencing this longing is in itself purifying to the heart.
Following acknowledgement, celebrate your heart by accepting what you are feeling. For example, we have been conditioned to believe it is a sign of weakness to feel sad or angry after a breakup. When you stop yourself, by engaging negative talk or suppressing the emotion, for example, you are closing off your heart. A former colleague of mine is going through a divorce. One of our mutual friends advised her, “Move on. Don’t cry over him. He’s not worth your tears.” Understandably, these are words of a concerned friend. But unfortunately, her words were more damaging because she was essentially advocating to ignore the natural symptoms of the heart by trampling over them.
Her longing stems from a disconnect to the Source.
Let’s take a look at what happens to your body when you are in a place of heartache. For the sake of relevance, I’ll use my personal experience from the summer. The night of my breakup — because I was caught off guard — I inhaled and held my breath for a few seconds. Next, I mentally talked myself out of showing my emotions to him. My ego wanted me to save face. I also had a full face of makeup on and couldn’t possibly risk a mascara tear trail (just kidding!).
However, once I was alone in my home, I conjured up my emotions and released. But in those first few seconds, when I inhaled deeply, I pushed the emotional response down by swallowing the sorrow. I closed my heart off in that moment of impact. Consequently, hours up until days after the breakup, when I began to open my heart to heal, I felt extremely nauseous.
“There is a lump of flesh in the body – if it is set right and made good, the entire body becomes good and healthy; but if it becomes diseased, the entire body becomes diseased. Remember well – it is the Heart.” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
What do you do to enliven your heart? Start with aligning yourself with His path. There are several pathways, and generally, starting with meditation, prayer, and daily remembrance of His Divine attributes surely act as cleansing agents. Before you physically react to a situation, pause and connect to your heart and ask yourself how you can honor your inner self. Empty your mind from the preconditioned ego self to create the inner space you need to become aware of the Divine presence. Since He is always with us — in our heart and not in our mind — this allows Him to work through you. By doing this, you are allowing Him to reveal Himself.
Through a sincere practice of worship or other spiritual movement, the heart is restored. The more we open our hearts to the inner light, the more we can see our own negative weakness. Additionally, the more we will be able to strengthen our positive and spiritual proclivities.
It has been reported by the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“There is a polish for everything that takes away rust, and the polish for the heart is the invocation of God.”
Spiritual tip for those of the Islamic faith: Recite on the tasbih (prayer beads) each a minimum of 99 times; Astafighallah, Salawat (Allahuma salmi ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammadin wasalim), Allah, Alhamdulillah and Ya Rahman.
In love and light.