Open Your Heart (Chakra)

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Why can’t I reeeeaaaach?

For the last couple of years I’ve been working on opening up my Heart Chakra.

Yes, yes, I know most of you don’t really believe this ‘hokey’ Chakra stuff but for a second let’s pretend it’s just a metaphor.

My sister asked me the other day whether yoga has helped me control my emotions. I told her that yoga is not really about control – at least not for me. The kind of yoga I practice is about flow: letting things pass you by, float by you, without controlling or judging them. It’s mostly about making yourself vulnerable enough to let emotions in and let them out, without judgment, even at the risk of feeling hurt.

In other words, learning to recognize that pain is inevitable but suffering is always optional.

One of the tightest areas of my body is the front of my shoulders and my chest. The pose you laughably see me attempting in the picture on the left is called “Cow Face Pose.” The full posture has you clasping your hands together behind your back, right around where the straps on my tank top intersect.

After two years of practicing, using a strap to guide my hands even marginally closer, my Cow Face arms still look nothing like the full expression.

What keeps me from getting my hands close enough to clasp each other is that tightness in my front shoulder / chest. I’ve been told that comes from sitting hunched over a computer all day. I think it’s because my Heart Chakra is out of whack.

The Heart Chakra is the home of unconditional love. The Sanskrit for this Chakra means “unhurt, unstuck or unbeaten.” And that’s exactly what I want to be – unbeaten, even when I’ve been beat.

One of the biggest compliments you can ever pay me is to tell me I am brave. And in many respects I recognize that I AM brave, despite my many fears. But I’m not yet as brave as I aspire to be. My fear of being wrong still haunts me. It sets me back too much.

This Chakra is about being brave enough to love everyone and everything (despite any flaws or imperfections) with no attachment to outcome and no protective attitudes or behaviors. It’s the one that allows you to act courageously without any expectation of results.

It’s also the place that drives you to do things for other people without expecting anything in return, and without worrying about being taken advantage of. It allows you to take chances with your heart and with your feelings – it pushes you ask the question even when you’re certain you won’t like the answer.

I’m not quite there yet.

Anyway, so in my yoga practice I’m working on opening up my chest and the front of my shoulders. Lots of Wheel and Wild Thing and the like. Maybe physical changes will lead to psychological ones – who knows?

But I also make a concerted effort to put myself in situations where I feel vulnerable in front of other people. I introduce myself to strangers. I smile at people who aren’t smiling at me. I put myself in situations where I might get rejected. Fortunately as a Sales Manager those situations present themselves pretty often!

It’s not a big deal but a tiny bit of practice sometimes goes a long way. So check again with me this time next year. Maybe by then I can get the tips of my fingers to touch!

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