This is a re-post of an article I wrote last year, but the message is still the same: nurturing and loving ourselves will keep our heart open, the energy flowing, and enable us to share that love with others.
The first time I started paying attention to my heart chakra was about a year ago when an energy healer told me that I had a hole in mine. Huh??? A hole in my heart chakra? What does that even mean? My response was to dive headlong into a year of studying energy medicine and the chakras.
For thousands of years ancient healing modalities like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have known about chakras and the role they play in our physical health. Chakra is a Sanskrit term for a spinning vortex that brings energy into our bodies and sends energy back out into the world. Because they are invisible to most people, it is a difficult concept to comprehend. But even Western medicine is slowly beginning to acknowlege the existence of chakras and how they impact our health. It is energy that is the driving force in our physical body and when that energy is depleted, blocked or closed off altogether, disease can set in.
The Heart Chakra, or Anahata, is the 4th of seven major chakras and it not only rules the heart but also the lungs, breasts, pericardium, thymus, upper back and ribs, arms and hands. This chakra, not surprisingly, is all about love and compassion. When we are able to openly give and receive love and show compassion for others (as well as ourselves) the energy flowing in and out of this area will help keep it healthy. But life throws a lot at us and often when it becomes too much for us to handle, we close down to protect ourselves (literally, that’s what happens to the chakra) and we learn to bury our emotions in order to survive the pain. In the beginning, this is the body’s defense mechanism, working to protect us when the pain is too much to bear. But if we don’t, in time, learn how to process out these emotions which actually exist at a cellular level, our bodies will suffer. Hence, the person who exercises, eats all the right foods and never smoked, yet has a heart attack, develops lung or breast cancer, or ends up with a compromised immune system. It is the stress, fear, anger or anxiety which has not been processed out of the body that is so harmful.
In my own case, right before I was told about the hole in my heart chakra (which she helped fill, by the way), I had just recovered from a 3 month bout of whooping cough. I learned during that illness that the lungs are the holding space in the body for grief, and that unprocessed grief can lead to illness or disease. Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel sad or grief-stricken on the outside – it was what was trapped inside that was harming me. I was a shy, anxious, very emotional child and I learned early on in my life how to block emotions that I couldn’t handle. I realize now how much I relied on this “skill” throughout my life to help me cope with some pretty major life challenges.
The good news is that there is a lot we can do to keep our heart chakra open, balanced and flowing with positive energy. Here are a few:
- Getting a pet, believe it or not, tops the list. Animals give us unconditional love and are the quickest way to help heal a broken heart. Many hospitals and nursing homes realize this and often bring in dogs to be with the patients. If you can’t get one of your own, spend time with a friend’s dog or cat.
- Journaling. Writing down your uncensored thoughts and feelings will help you process them out of your body and onto the paper.
- Write a valentine to yourself–list all the things you love about you and the things you love to do.
- Yoga, qigong, t’ai chi, massage and energy healing are all ways to help the healing process.
- Meditation – hands down, is one of the best ways to heal our body, mind and spirit. Find a good teacher, learn how to meditate and your life will never be the same.
- Talking – either with a therapist or a trusted friend or family member. We all know how much better we feel after a good chat, cry, or laugh. On that same note…
- Engage in activities that give you joy, make you laugh, or even cry. All of these things will help to release pent-up emotions and start the flow of positive energy back into your heart chakra. For me, there’s nothing quite like a Modern Family or a Seinfeld episode to chase the blues away.
So today on this day usually focused on lovers, remember to nurture your own heart and always be kind to yourself. The more you love yourself the easier it will be for you to open your heart to give and receive love with others.
Happy Valentine’s Day!