Open Heart Surgery

A few weeks ago, I dreamt that angelic hands were moving around my heart space, opening me up to greater capacities of love. My dreaming mind told me they were doing “open heart surgery.” I woke up ready to live out that day from my heart space – and what a day it was!

Most of us know instinctively when we’re coming from the heart and when we’re coming from the head. Are our words infused with warmth and openness? Or is there a calculated feeling behind them? I call this being in “evaluation mode,” and it never feels good to me.

While our relationships certainly benefit from us being in “heart mode,” other areas of our lives can thrive as well. In memorable scenes from Like Water for Chocolate, Tita infuses her cooking first with heartache and then with love, causing food poisoning in the first scenario and near-combustible bliss in the second. Her cooking responded to her emotions, which transferred over to the consumers of her food.

Luckily, we don’t need magical realism to get similar results in our everyday lives. Here are some ideas for doing “open heart surgery” on ourselves regularly:

  1. Have a "go-to" memory that puts you in a feel-good place. When my nephew was a toddler, I used to sing him the “itsy-bitsy spider” song. For unknown reasons, every time I sang the line about the rain washing the spider out, he stood up and turned around in a complete circle. Then he would clap his hands until I sang it again. When I'm doing Reiki on clients, I replay this heartwarming scene over and over in my mind, ensuring that my healing work comes from the heart. What's your go-to memory?
  2. Love yourself. Most of us tend to focus on our flaws, which is why we sometimes feel surprised when friends spontaneously point out our good qualities. For a more balanced perspective on the loving person you actually are, try keeping a running list on your phone of all the positive things people say about you. Read it every morning, or whenever you need a heart booster.
  3. Practice forgiveness. Our hearts are blocked when we hold grudges. There's a powerful Hawaiian practice centered on forgiveness called Ho’Oponopono. Besides being a lot of fun to say, this meditation can help release the negative energy between you and another person, which paves the way for a transformed relationship with them in daily life. It consists of visualizing that person and uttering four phrases over and over: “I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” After a few minutes, you might visualize this person saying those phrases back to you.
  4. Do lovingkindness meditations as a family. This is a great one to do with kids, since research shows it promotes healthy personal growth. The practice involves sending happiness to ourselves, people we love, people we have difficulty with, and the whole world. Here's how to get started.
  5. Drink more tea. Holding a warm mug of tea and infusing your body with healthy herbs is an act of love in itself. Even better are these specific heart-healing herbs even Shakespeare knew about.


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