You might think of courage and honesty as lofty ideals, almost impossible to attain. What happens if, instead, you regard them as everyday virtues that will help you keep your heart open? To keep your heart open, you must be honest about everything, even your simplest experiences. Then you see clearly how, where, when, and why you are tempted to close it.
Here is a technique that you might find useful for at least the rest of your life. Begin to notice how you dissociate from your experience. Are there certain patterns that trigger your desire to turn away? What are they? Before you turn away from the present moment, what kinds of feelings do you have? Fear, defensiveness, self-criticism, resentment, hurt, helplessness, doubt? When you feel like closing your heart, what do you tell yourself?
Situations That Cause You To Shut Down
Unfamiliar situations can be real trigger-points for seeing how you shut down. For example, as a child, one of John's favorite activities was playing the piano. But because his brother was far more talented, John stopped his piano lessons after only a few years. Now, 30 years later, he has begun to take lessons again. As he and his teacher Eleanor reviewed "Fur Elise" -- a song that John had been playing from memory for 30 years -- he realized that he couldn't hear Eleanor's comments, evaluation, or instruction.
What seemed to be blocking his hearing was a big "I know" in his head. The "I know" meant to John that whatever Eleanor was saying was not of importance to him, because he already knew it. This incident triggered John's curiosity. Since then, he's begun to notice that there are many times when that "I know" stands between him and what another person is saying. When he allows it, it keeps him from being present.
The Courage To Go Beyond Self-Deception
Courage is key in going beyond self-deception. You may think of courage as being without fear, but in fact, courage is the willingness to know fear inside and out. You may think of it as blustering and macho, but in fact, courage is gentle, almost tender.
From childhood on, we seek comfort in story lines, temporary identities, and other habitual ways of manipulating the world around us to suit our view. As we open our hearts, our awareness and presence begin to erode some of these old patterns.
Learning to dwell in openness may bring us face-to-face with energy that we cannot pretend to control or manipulate. Through awareness, we discover that reality is quite different from our habitual invention of it. Fear arises, and we're tempted to shut down.
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Seize the moment when you want to close your heart; this is a ripe opportunity to become intimate with all the ways you deceive yourself. It's an adventure in self-discovery.
The "success" of your adventure depends on telling yourself the truth about who you are, what you feel, what you want, and what you fear. If you lie to yourself about these things, a cloud of confusion will perpetually dim your light.
This article was excerpted by permission.
Copyright 2000, published by Hay House Inc.
Pathways to the Soul: 101 Ways to Open Your Heart
by Carlos Warter.
Pathways to the Soul contains 101 different exercises, visualizations, and meditations. Some are taken from various historical and classical traditions of the world’s cultures, and some are simple, current, and contemporary. All are designed to help you grow spiritually in many different ways, whether you are a beginner or an advanced student. If you want to experience your true beauty and the sacredness of your life, this book contains just about everything you need to know.
About The Author
Carlos Warter M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, transpersonal spiritual psychiatrist, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of consciousness raising and alternative healing. He is the author of Soul Remembers and Who Do You Think You Are? The Healing Power of Your Sacred Self. Born in Chile, Dr. Warter has been awarded the United Nations Peace Messenger and the Pax Mundi awards for his humanitarian efforts. He presents keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars both in the U.S. and throughout the world. His website is at www.doctorcarlos.com.