“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” —Antonio Porchia, Argentine poet
Have you asked yourself recently if there are things you’d like to welcome into your life? Do you want to improve your career, finances, or relationships? Perhaps better health or deepening your spirituality is on your list. Or, maybe you seek a greater sense of meaning or purpose in your life, or more peace, joy, or love.
Just as you need to create space in your home, at work, and on your computer’s hard drive to function well, you also need a clear mind to be open to possibilities. These all have a finite amount of space. But the space in your heart is unlimited. This heart space, however, must be uncluttered and cultivated in order to experience the things you desire.
The physical organ the heart holds our deepest truths. The simple placement of your hand on your heart can be a powerful way to tune in to these truths—unless your heart is closed or cluttered inside. Dark feelings such as fear, shame, guilt, and inadequacy can take up a lot of space. Avoidance or even acceptance of these feelings keeps them alive. Thus, your deepest desires may become obscured, resulting in a stifled life force.
The poet Rumi encourages us to: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” “Your task, writes Rumi, “is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” The love that fuels our lives already resides at the heart of our being. But it can become buried beneath the rubble of dark feelings and emotions. Unconsciously, that rubble is a barrier expressed in our outer experience: we think and behave in ways that support what seems to be lacking in our lives. We then become stuck, which may be reflected in our inability to attract or maintain loving, supportive relationships; to find satisfying work; or to live a generally happy life.
Wanting versus allowing
Attempting to get rid of, deny, or just live with the barriers only lodges them in further, intensifying our suffering. A better way is to allow them to surface and then to fully feel them. We must bring them into the light and allow them to speak their truth. Rather than seeing them as enemies, allow yourself to befriend them. Ask what they want or need, or what actions you might take in the world to help them—and you. This befriending helps release the ego from being the gatekeeper of your heart, allowing the heart to know its truth.
Given this freedom, the heart is able to embrace our deepest longings. In the process, we learn that whatever the barrier, there is a desire for its complement or opposite. When we experience pain or frustration, we deeply desire relief or satisfaction. Food is more pleasurable when we are hungry. A tender touch or compassionate ear is most welcomed when we feel depleted or alone. Becoming conscious of what we don’t want in life paradoxically provides clarity about what we truly desire.
For many years I struggled to find a fulfilling life path. I engaged in a number of successful business ventures along the way, yet never felt satisfied. Things started to shift as I lovingly inquired into what was blocking me and listened to my heart’s deepest longings. Allowing this acknowledgement helped me learn from what wasn’t serving me at the time. I now understand that each endeavor helped me acquire skills that are serving me well today. I feel blessed with the ability to manage a not-for-profit business. I also help people heal from trauma, discover wholeness, and uncover purpose and fulfillment in their lives. Living harmoniously and in sync with life—and helping others do so—has become my true mission.
What we desire desires us
At our very core, don’t we all desire love, peace, and happiness? How can we long for something unless we know what it feels like? Love is like a magnet that attracts positive things. Love is infinite and timeless and already present within our hearts. As we open our hearts and clear out the debris, space becomes available to welcome in profound peace and gratification.
To explore your own heart, ask questions like: What is my heart feeling at this moment? Is there a song that it wants to sing? Something it longs to express? What will bring my heart into harmony? When do I feel fully alive? Listen for an answer. Notice when thoughts like undeserving and other negative feelings surface. Make friends with each feeling. Learn what it wants to share. Shift from asking your ego’s point of view to allowing your heart to express its deepest longing.
Room for everything
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” —Mary Oliver
Over time you will find yourself living more and more from your heart. You’ll discover there is more space there than you ever could have imagined. There’s abundant room for forgiveness—especially self-forgiveness. There’s also room for making mistakes and experiencing grief, which help us build resilience. And we must allow room for feelings of empathy for people with differing values as well as for ourselves. Remember, your heart’s capacity is limitless.
Make a vow
As you become more at home in your heart, it’s helpful to harness its capacity to engage your imagination. Ask: How do you want your life to be? A helpful concept that can be borrowed from yogic philosophy to keep you on target is sankalpa. This is a sacred vow that you make in support of your deepest desires. A sankalpa requires your mind and body to be in harmony. It is not focused on something outside of you, such as your desire for a new home, better health, a romantic relationship, or a job promotion. Your sankalpa should be a brief affirmative statement that helps you realize your best self. Examples are:
- I appreciate and accept myself.
- I am whole, healed, and healthy.
- I am deeply connected to myself, to others, and to life.
- I am a compassionate and kind person.
- My thoughts, words, and actions are aligned with one another.
The practice of tuning in to your sankalpa helps keep it alive, strengthens it, and brings more clarity to it. With this heartfelt intention as your foundation, your everyday and long-term goals will be more easily realized.
May you explore the intimacy of your heart tenderly and lovingly in the coming year and live from its limitless potential.