There are many reasons to guard your heart. After all, we all know what it feels like to be hurt by people we cared for or have our hearts broken. When you are in the middle of a break up, you might even feel a pain in your heart, perhaps that is where the term “broken heart” actually comes from.
Over the years I have had the opposite of a guarded heart. My problem is that my heart is too open. I want to give and I want to help and I want to share a piece of my heart with everyone I meet. Maybe this is a good thing but it also allows just anyone in and it only leaves me feeling heart broken in the end.
But perhaps the key lies in learning to open your heart at the right times and then learning to guard it when necessary. Maybe on our journey we must learn to trust and let people in, but also learn when and where to turn people out.
Since my forté is opening the heart, I have created this list as a way to help people learn to connect with their hearts. I do add a warning to not open your heart for the wrong people (trust your instinct), or keep your heart unguarded and ready for attacks. As you learn to open your heart, remember that it is always safe to keep it a little guarded: build a picket fence not a wall.
1. Watch Your Body Language
Crossed arms are the easiest way to show the world that you are guarding your heart. Body language experts call cross arms and legs the classic sign of “defensiveness and resistance.”
The best way to begin the process of opening your heart is to watch your body language. What non-verbal cues are you giving people. Open your heart by leading with your heart. Walk with your shoulders up and your chest open and relaxed. Sit with your arms to your side or with your palms together (and up) on your lap. In social situations, notice the way your body language might drive people away. People that look defensive are not easy to approach.
2. Invite In the Green
The heart chakra, known as the “Anahata chakra,” is part of the Hindu metaphysical belief system of the seven chakras. Each chakra represents different energy points in your body and the heart is really the core. In yoga (and in any exercise) you learn that in order to support the rest of your body, you have to build a strong core. Therefore the heart and keeping a strong heart is vital to keeping a long and healthy life.
The anahata chakra is represented by the color green, so to stimulate the heart chakra it is suggested that you invite green into your life. Wear more green, eat more green fruits and vegetables, and take long and vigorous walks in nature.
3. Imagine Your Cup is Full
Sometimes when we are left broken hearted, we find it hard to learn to give love and accept love again. It is important to give love and accept love equally. If you give too much love, then you are running on fumes, your cup is empty. If you are taking too much love, then your cup is overflowing, you are probably hurting others in the process. A wise person once said to me, “If you are giving 110% then what is he giving?” Relationships should be a road of 50-50, you should give as much love as you receive and anything less is unacceptable.
As you learn to give love, so will you learn to receive. Do simple things like donating your time to charity, open your heart by talking to strangers or doing something kind (for no reward). Learn to accept love more by accepting compliments, taking care of your appearance, and feeling good in your own skin. You have to imagine your cup as already full. It is not depleted, you are not desperate for a drink, but at the same time the cup is not overflowing, you have the perfect amount.
3. Cry, Yell, Scream, Then Get Over It
I don’t know why there seems to be so much shame about crying. Not only are you allowed to cry, you are allowed to scream, and yell, and have a little fit if you want to. You are allowed to release any negative emotion that you have pent up inside of you. Why? Because you are a human being. That’s what human beings do. If something is bothering you, by all means let it out. The absolute WORSE thing to do is hold it inside yourself and go around acting like everything is okay when it is not.
Once you have cried and screamed and expressed yourself, begin the process of healing. Accept the faults of others but also accept your own faults. What did you contribute to the situation? Forgive others but also forgive yourself. It’s ok to mess up, it’s ok to not be perfect. No one is. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward and close a chapter in your life. You must forgive the person who hurt you but you must also forgive yourself.
4. Love is All Around You
You do not need to seek love, love is seeking you. People will spend so much time actively seeking a romantic partner and the minute they give up the search, that special person walks right into their lives. I know it sounds cheesy, but you have to surround yourself with the idea of love. Let go of the bitter, let go of the anger, let go of the fear. Instead, start reading about love, take a poetry class, watch a romantic movie, remember and hold close to you the idea of being in love.
Just like our childhood movies used to say, “I know you I walked with you once upon a dream.” Maybe you do know that significant person. Maybe you always knew him or her and you only forgot. Instead of trying desperately to find that person, and instead of caving yourself away never to find anyone, how about practice the moderate path of believing they are out there and then leaving it up to fate?