A friend of mine was admitted to the hospital recently after experiencing a rapidly beating heart. This happened around the anniversary of her husband’s death (she was married over 50 years). She had all sorts of medical tests and was told it was an electrical problem with her heart. While I believe it is important to reach out for medical support, I also believe it is important to see that her heart is just overwhelmed and scared. It has had a lot to deal with in the past year. I like to call her rapid heartbeat the fluttering of a grieving heart. Her heart is trying to tell her that “Life is becoming a little too much for me lately and I need some kindness.” I invited her to put her hand over her heart and tell it she sees how scared it is. As she was able to do this, her heart calmed down a bit and she was able to send love and kindness to herself.
We all carry a ball of grief that we have stashed deep inside of ourselves and it desperately wants to be touched by your heart. It is so important to realize that the big challenges in life, like losing a longtime partner or being diagnosed with cancer, can be the greatest healers because they bring your grief close enough to the surface that you can finally enfold it in your heart.
Grief doesn’t always initially show up as grief. You may at first experience it as anger, fear, or shame. All of these feelings lie on top of the deep grief we all carry – the grief of so many losses, of how confusing life can be, of how what we really want seems so elusive. But know that grief tightens you, and, until you can be with it, it cuts you off from being fully alive. Don’t try to find your grief. It will reveal itself at the appropriate time. In the meantime, rather than reacting, I invite you to respond to your tightness by simply saying, “I see you.” This may not seem very powerful at first, but it is. It is a moment when you are relating to what you are experiencing rather than from it. Know that whatever is tightening inside of you is asking for your interested attention.
When you are experiencing anxiety, stress or challenges in your life, I invite you to drop down into your heart whenever you can, as your heart is your home. Whereas your mind reacts, your heart knows how to be with what you are experiencing as if it was your only child. When you go to bed at night or when you first wake up in the morning (and throughout the day when you can), spend a few minutes breathing in and out through your heart. Your breath wakes up this amazing healer that lives right inside of your chest and its healing energy can transform the deepest of griefs, the scariest of fears and the most horrible of shames back into the free-flowing aliveness they came from.
Image – Glorious by Artist Amy Hillenbrand www.amyhillenbrand.com