With all the tragedies and devastation that have been unfolding in our world lately, I have been feeling waves of discomfort in my heart center like I haven’t felt in quite some time. Several years ago I had a series of losses in a very short period of time. I began to have sometimes serious chest pains that resulted in a visit to a cardiologist. The doctor confirmed my suspicions that the pain had nothing to do with the physical organ of my heart. “There is nothing wrong with your heart other than heartbreak.”
I guess that was supposed to be comforting.
Today as I type these words I feel a vague tightening in my chest and back. I am more than certain that there is nothing wrong with my physical heart. And from this perspective I also know that it is not heartbreak.
Our hearts in fact do not break.
Okay, hearts become diseased, go into arrest, and indeed eventually stop. But they do not emotionally break.
What breaks are the protective shells we have inadvertently encased our sensitive heart-centers with. The armor breaks. The defenses crack and the walls slowly begin to fall. The layers of protection we have built to keep us from the inevitable pain of being human at some point begin to shake and loosen. The effect of that process is indeed experienced as sensations of pain, indeed, waves of sometimes serious pain. Radiating pain that often feels like an internal quaking. It is scary. We try to stop it by running to doctors or taking medications or retreating into spinning mental stories. We will try anything to lessen the effects of what really amounts to a deep level of spiritual awakening.
So right now I feel the waves. Is it heartbreak?
It is heart opening. It is heart awakening. It is the deep wisdom of the heart recognizing its place in a world filled with pain, loss, and torment. The heart doesn’t look with pity on what is happening over there. It feels with empathy what is happening right in here. Spiritually there is no over there. I am connected and I am awakening to that connection. I am feeling what is happening around the globe and my heart is telling me it is time to participate in the pain. It is time to compassion and to transmute some of that pain by bringing down the barriers I have built to shield myself from it.
Now I am typing these words in an air conditioned office wearing dry clothing and with a full stomach. I have a chilled glass of clean drinking water beside my computer.
And yet my heart also feels the trauma for those who have none of that right now. And with my creature comforts in place my heart still aches. And I can authentically report that I am grateful. I have no desire to look the other way. I welcome the direct experience of my shared humanity. I welcome this pain as direct evidence that I am awakening to the reality of Oneness. Not a gold-gilded concept but a felt-reality of the broad spectrum of what can happen in a human experience.
So this is not heartbreak. It is my deepest heart feeling the hearts of hurting people around the world. I am grateful to no longer seek to deaden this discomfort. I am thankful to have moved beyond casting platitudes or only sending a check that assuages my guilt and stifles my caring. I send money for sure. But I do so staying connected to the massive quantities of loss and suffering that are pervasive on our shared planet at this time. I am not there, and yet I am. And I am choosing to stay with the pain and with the connection.
This pain in my heart tells me I am alive and I am awakening. I care. I can let myself care and I can let myself hurt. It is so worth the feeling of connection to my fellow beings in this horrid and wondrous human dilemma. It is so worth the waves of pain that tell me I am one.