Have you ever had a broken heart?
It’s a rhetorical question, really. Since, personally, I think it’s impossible to be a human being and not know heart-break.
Relationship break-down, the death of loved ones, illness, loss, abandonment, witnessing others suffering. There are endless ways our hearts can break. But if we are alive and feeling, we’ll have known it.
And if we’re committed to awakening or the path of love, perhaps even more so.
I’m reflecting on it this morning, as I listen to one of my “love” play-lists and Steven Walters comes on to sing of the connection between love and pain:
“You know love is a mystery, that’ll never be explained. But you know I’ve got this deep, deep feeling, this one truth will never change. If you really want to know what love is, you know you’ve got to feel the pain.”
I first heard this song on Retreat with Ananta Kranti in a room full of awakening beings. All of us devoted to truth. And all of us having known or knowing then heart-ache in some form or other.
I myself was in a phase of longing for a lover who’d recently withdrawn from me. My heart chakra and chest were smarting. It was uncomfortable, yet also entirely possible to hold this ache alongside laughter, dance and a deep stillness of being.
As I orient myself towards my Making Love Retreat in February, I’m pondering what love signifies for people and how there’s this paradox that to know it, as in to know ourselves as it, we must first experience what it’s not.
I remember my teacher, Shakti Malan, saying: "It is only in being willing to let go into love and let your heart be broken, that you will dive into the true divine majesty of your feminine sexual essence... every time your heart breaks, your heart actually grows and there is a deeper connection with the true essence of love that wants to radiate through you."
And this is a remembrance I have had to keep coming back to again and again, in the repeated experience since committing to my spiritual path, of falling in love, then being faced with abandonment, rejection or betrayal.
It seems quite distant now, but I remember the first time it happened, I wanted to do all I could to escape the feeling and blame everyone and everything outside myself.
Over time, I’ve sought to escape and blame less and less, knowing this wound of separation lives in my own heart and is the symptom of a projection of my own mind. And however painful – agonising even – it feels at the time, it will shift sooner or later, so long as I simply keep on meeting myself in that tender place.
I cannot rush this. I cannot force it. I cannot pretend I am happy clappy when I’m not. Meeting myself means I keep on breathing - as deeply as possible, I keep on feeling. I trust and wait. I meditate, move slowly. Show up with the ache in my heart and the pain in my eyes. Raw.
Sometimes I really, really want someone to take it away. I know they can’t and yet the words, touch or company of a trusted friend can soothe the ache and expand my frame of reference, so as to connect me back to the web of life.
Other times the ache puts me in touch with life’s beauty on a deeper level. For how can my open heart not be awed and moved by nature’s splendour or human vulnerability? Pain calls me present and, if I dare allow it:
“wound becomes portal. Brokenness surrenders to crystalline brilliance of Being.”
I recall reading that line from The Radiance Sutras at a time when my then relationship was a source of great pain. And I’d just had a tattoo inscribed on my back. At the back of my heart chakra to be exact. Paid for by that very lover.
There was the prick each time the needle pierced my skin. And there was also the growing sense of generalised discomfort as that needle kept on returning – again and again to the same small area.
I breathed and I meditated with it. I prayed that this pain would always be a reminder to me to never again put myself in such a situation; to find and return to divine love.
When that relationship was over, I re-committed myself to my daily meditation practice, a period of celibacy and ongoing prayers and practices for self-love and inner union. I resolved to hunker down in my aloneness, until, one day, the joy returned and, sure enough, my heart felt bigger and brighter.
I am certain that my repeated journeys through the spiral of the wounded heart have enhanced my capacity for compassion and empathy, as well as the intuitive healing that flows through me as a practitioner.
What I want to say to those who are feeling their hearts broken right now or who are perhaps holding on to a resentment or fear born out of past pain is this:
Experiencing heart-break does not make you a failure. It is a beautiful expression of your tender human-ness and a precious opportunity to grow in love. As love. Becoming love.
You’re not doing anything wrong. You’ve done the very best you could. We all have. And all that is, is perfect !
Allowing your heart to break you open, without trying to fix, hide or stop it, is the only way to become more whole.
Let yourself weep for all your sorrows. For the sorrows of the world. For your inner child. Your wounded parts. All that hurts. Feel your longing to be met by another, by God. Let your heart be touched. Allow it all. Be with it all. No story. No drama. And in this meeting and allowing, your energy will shift, your being will expand. And you’ll be one step closer to knowing what love really is. In fact, you could just find yourself making love. Inside.
If you want to live life, really live it, then you’re going to have to feel this. Soften. Open. It’s the way to more love, not less. Trust me. I’ve been there ! Any part of you that is contracted in fear, blame, shame or anger will keep it at bay. A visceral separation from love that – quite naturally - hurts !
And it’s the only way to that which we are all, ultimately, seeking: home, God, Source, union, LOVE, oneness. Whatever you want to call it. It’s already here. You’re it. Nobody else can give it to you, or ever take it away.
It’s important to know, that being in love or awakening spiritually does not inoculate us against heart-break. Open hearts feel. Most likely more. It’s part of the process. And romantic love is almost guaranteed to trigger it.
As another of my favourite teachers, B Prior, says, as you step into intimate relating “You will come upon heartbreak you didn’t even remember you had because you buried it so deep. It is good that you come upon heartbreak, so you can release the energy back to your heart.”
So no chasing love to stop the ache. That won’t do it. Unless the love you’re seeking is really, truly within.
In my Making Love Retreat over Valentine’s weekend 2020, I invite all lovers, lovers of life, seekers of love, broken hearts and open hearts to gather together in a field of love for the yoga of love: entering blissful spiritual intimacy through tantric practices of union, embodiment, stillness and movement that will gift you a taste of this knowing.
And if this blog touches you or opens up questions and you'd like to explore one-to-one love coaching and healing sessions with me, please be in touch via the contact button above.