You may not even know it, but your heart is not all the way open and you don’t know what you’re missing. This article shows you how to open your heart wider and explains why you should want to.
Let’s get started with a variety of exercises, and you can continue practicing until you get comfortable with your new & improved state. Note which exercises you find most difficult and practice them with any images you find throughout your day until they get easier and come naturally.
To open your heart, begin by opening your eyes and seeing all the good that exists. Let positive emotions follow and allow them to soften the walls that dampened your ability to feel.
|Look at this father and son and imagine how they feel about each other, one at a time.For example, the boy may feel secure and happy, playful, trusting, etc.The father may feel proud, caring, patient, the joy of loving, etc.|
Note that whatever feelings you project onto these models are actually experienced by yourself. Also note that experiencing such positive thoughts and emotions builds and strengthens them inside your own brain and heart.
Experience them long enough, even vicariously, and they will become yours. They will become your new norm. Allow them to replace older, harder, more cynical thoughts and feelings.
|Observe this attractive couple enjoying themselves and dancing and note your reaction. Are you happy for them? Would you like to join them? Are you ambivalent? Envious? Do their youthfulness and happiness remind you of what you lack?|
Whatever your reaction, now turn it love. Look at each individual and imagine what their life might be like – it’s struggles and successes, their confidence and doubts, hopes and fears. Whatever you imagine, feel empathy for them and wish them all the best.
Following this pattern, begin to notice your reactions to people all around you and in the media, and each time you note a negative reaction, consciously choose to change it to love.
|How do you react to conflict? One at a time, imagine you’re each of these people, obviously having a disagreement. Each appears to believe their position to be correct and their partner to be unreasonable and wrong.|
Once you’ve imagined what they may be feeling, open your heart and try to experience feelings of love for yourself (or, rather, for the person you’re imagining). How does this affect your willingness to communicate and cooperate better with your other half?
Also practice loving the partner – see the good in them, desire their happiness and growth – and observe how that affects the imaginary interaction.
|How easy is it to love this attractive couple who appears to have everything – youth, money, health, and attractive bodies?|
Remember that while it may be nice to feel attracted to such things, that attraction is only the first step on the way to true love.
Don’t let yourself stop at admiring only their outward physical traits; practice seeing them as people with similar thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, and other experiences as the rest of us.
|If you think these imaginary scenarios don’t “work,” note that your brain doesn’t distinguish well between reality and imagination.|
Look first at the adorable little girl and generate a feeling of love for her, then switch to the cartoon boy and note that you can harbor similar feelings for each.
Your imagination provides a safe practice area to try on new feelings and exercise and expand the best ones.
Whichever thoughts and feelings you choose to focus on will grow stronger and manifest themselves in your actual, real, tangible, non-imaginary life…so choose wisely!
|Note also that your experience of love and open heartedness is not limited to yourself and other people.|
Try opening your heart to beauty, nature, and any other commendable thing and enjoy the happiness that your perspective draws into your life.
If you can’t bring yourself to love spiders yet…don’t worry, perfection takes time.
|How easy is it to love people who you don’t find attractive and who have nothing to offer you?|
Older people in our culture often get forgotten because on the surface, they may appear to have nothing of value to share – as if love were more like an economic exchange rather than a skill whose practice brings its own rewards.
If you sometimes feel this way, practice opening your heart to this image of an old man until you experience the infinite value of any human connection and perhaps perceive various values like wisdom, interest in his life experience, etc.
|Here’s a guy wearing shades, looking cool, and possibly protecting his vulnerable heart with a tough facade.|
Open your heart and love him anyway, see if you can break through his protective shell.
If this image doesn’t work, imagine people you know who wear masks, who don’t feel good enough, who overcompensate for their insecurity with arrogance and false bravado.
|Now imagine people who feel superior to you, who are intentionally cruel to you, who leave you out of the popular “in” crowd – or who you imagine would exclude, despise you, fear you, or shut you out of their hearts for any reason.|
Open your heart and love them and note how that places you in a position of power, and how you no longer need to react to their perceptions but become free to be your best self at all times.
| ||Do you find this expensive sports car attractive? If so, that’s perfectly fine, but note the difference between loving a car and loving people.When you love a car, it’s primarily selfish, based on the desire for enjoyment or prestige.|
When you love a person, it’s primarily selfless, based on your desire for their well being and progress.
If you “love” people primarily based on your desire to consume and use them selfishly, then boy, are you missing the boat! The best part of love comes from what you give, not what you get.
As you practice opening your heart, you’ll learn that love and happiness truly aren’t about the other person, they depend on YOU and your ability to be a loving, happy person.
Where do you fall on the “Open Up Your Heart” love slider?
|1: The only value I get from anyone or anything else comes from how it satisfies my appetites.||3: I’m too scared or hurt to open my heart. I’ll open it when someone loves me enough that it heals all my wounds and proves that it’s safe to come out.||5: I love myself, my family, and my friends. Everyone else is competition for scarce resources, including happiness and love.||7: I’m trying to love everyone, but it’s not always easy!||10: The world is so filled with beauty and joy that I want to share it with everyone I see!|
11. Going to extremes: if you’re new to opening your heart to everyone, BE CAREFUL! You’ll discover that it’s much easier than you thought to love everyone, and you may often experience feelings that you once reserved only for intimate romantic relationships. JUST BECAUSE YOU LOVE SOMEONE DOES NOT MEAN YOU BELONG IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP.
Which heart-opening exercises do you find more difficult? Why?
How much would you LIKE to open your heart? What are the biggest barriers to doing so?
Practice opening your heart to people and beauty wherever you go. You don’t need to do anything about it – at first – just observe. Eventually, courage, vision, and actions will follow.