Have you ever had a broken heart? It feels horrible, doesn’t it? It’s like an actual physical pain, right in the middle of your chest. Like someone punched a hole there. With anger. Because they really meant to leave a bruise. And you are left wondering what you did to deserve it…
I have been there. Not so long ago, someone I loved left me with a broken heart. What’s worse, after that I spiraled down a path of self-destruction, physically and emotionally.
Did your friends say it will be OK? That time heals everything? That eventually your heart would mend?
Didn’t you hate hearing that?
Sure, easy for them to say. They don’t have a hole inside their chest!
But I survived and am here to tell the story of how wisdom can not only mend our hearts, it can solve all our human problems.
Pain is the quickest way to learn.
Last week I was watching Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and he said something I have always known but somehow I was hearing for the first time. Pain is the quickest way to learn something. If you put your hand on an open fire you will learn quicker than your mom telling you not to do so. Sometimes, despite all the wisdom around us, we walk right into pain like a moth drawn by light flies into an open flame to meet his death. It is almost certain that if something is that attractive, pain (or death) follows.
So here I was all burnt up and the only thing I knew to do was stumble into a meditation class, hoping mainly to escape from myself. But I ended up discovering who I really am. I don’t think that would have happened without the pain. And the wisdom to rely on something bigger than myself.
Of course, meditation wasn’t always easy or helpful. Sometimes my mind would not settle down at all, jumping from one scene to another contemplating what I did wrong, what I shouldn’t have done, what I could have done differently to not feel the heartbreak I was feeling now. Other times I would find that I had an ocean of sadness in my heart and tears would just come streaming down leaving me feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t even meditate properly.
Until I learned about the true nature of my mind. And the truth about how things really are.
See, until then I thought that my thoughts and feelings were me because they made up my reality. My identity, my beliefs, my values, my many moods, my sense of humor, my neediness, my stubbornness, my pride, my sadness. My my my….
What I discovered through a simple breathing meditation was that the true nature of my mind was vast and peaceful like a clear, blue sky. The tears and the anguish, that was just dark clouds obstructing my mind temporarily. When focusing on the breath the clouds cleared out, I could finally see. I knew my mind was all the space around me and as far as my eyes could see. And I was as vast as the sky.
In that moment, I felt nothing but peace. Joy followed.
Do not try and bend the spoon
You can joke about The Matrix all you want. Despite the poor acting, it had some bad-ass advice, if you are wise to look for it. See, we protect our hearts by not getting close to people or by pushing them away. We serve our hearts by giving them what they please. We give our hearts to those we love. Yet, all along, we do not realize that there is no heart.
The reason we feel emotions deep in the level of where our physical heart is may have something to do with why conventionally we think of our heart as the holder of our emotions, our essence even. We are not entirely wrong but the physical heart sure has nothing to do with it.
The deepest level of our mind resides where our heart is. That’s where our suffering lives, past, present and future. That’s where our emotions live. Yet, it is not a physical place. It is just a mind, a continuum of sensations, vibrations, energy, thoughts, feelings that come and go like the clouds in the sky.
The deepest level of our mind is pure clarity and peace, unobstructed by conceptions and feelings. And it is the nature of peace and love. That’s who we really are if we allow the hurt feelings to come and go like clouds in the sky. We can rely on our peaceful mind alone no matter what else is appearing in our life.
If there is no heart, then how can it break?
When we examine our language closely we may find that many of the things we say and believe to be true are in reality nonsense. It is very common for us to say “my heart is broken” and believe it because we FEEL it. But feelings are not an accurate reflection of reality. For example, when we are sad our world looks sad. When we are angry, everyone is irritating and annoying us. Then when the anger subsides, we see reality and other people differently, in fact sometimes we can’t even remember why we were so bent out of shape about to begin with.
This proves that feelings aren’t facts.
Furthermore, feelings distort our view of reality like waves disturb the surface of the ocean. If we ride the wave of feelings or even better, swim underneath them, in the vast stillness of our mind, we can see everything more clearly.
Healing our heart with the breath
When your heart is hurting your mind is disturbed. That’s it. A broken heart is nothing but painful feelings storming into your mind. Nothing more. When you experience emotional pain, anger, frustration, hurt, try this simple meditation. It literally undisturbs your mind (is that even a phrase?) and makes all your problems dissolve into empty space.
Sit in a comfortable position with a straight back but not stiff. Close your eyes and breathe through your nostrils. Get comfy.
For a few moments just watch the rhythm of your breathing. Settle in. Begin where you are. No matter how unpleasant, where you are is the only place to begin from.
Now bring your mind to the sensation of your breath at the tip of your nose. Try to find the slight difference between the cooler air going in and warmer air leaving your nostril. When you find the sensation, place your whole mind there and imagine the mind has become one with the breath and the breath one with the mind.
When distracting thoughts arise simply notice them without judgment but do not follow. Just return to the sensation of your breath at the tip of your nose. Remain on it for as long as you can.
When you lose focus gently try to find the breath again. No forcing. Remember your mind is like an untrained puppy. You must be gentle and loving.
A few minutes of this practice and you will understand what I mean. Your thoughts will still be there but they will be more subtle. The critical inner voice more quiet. All the hurt feelings less intense, more subdued. And the true nature of your mind will reveal itself.
The vast space in your heart that holds no fear, nor hurt, just stillness and peace. It is always there waiting for you to just breathe.
There is no hurt. There is no healing.
And there is nothing to break. Because you were undone all along, in the best possible way. Unbound by conventions and conceptions, floating in a vast ocean of stillness, bathing in the peace and happiness of your own mind.
There is nothing else. Just this. So enjoy! Give yourself permission to feel better, more peaceful, more joyous. Stop identifying with that broken person whos heart hurts and start thinking of yourself as infinite, unlimited. Because what you think, you are.
Your turn. Share your healing story. You never know who you might help.