Whether you’re single or romantically attached it’s hard to ignore that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Love, in any form, always leads me back to the Heart Chakra.
How’s your heart today?
Is there some grief mixed in with the love?
Love & Grief
Love makes us feel warm, wanted, and safe. It opens our hearts gently in the reassurance of a hug, the encouragement of a wise friend, or the passionate kiss of a lover. Conversely, grief breaks our hearts open sometimes suddenly and excruciatingly, sometimes like a heavy door quietly opening with anticipatory grief of what’s to come. When grief leaves us ragged ‘round the edges, love is the healing balm that helps us rediscover our wholeness so we can move forward into the rest of our lives.
But sometimes, our loved ones get impatient with us to “get back to normal” (kinda the way the whole world feels right now with COVID). And as much as we wish we could put a timeline on grief, or that it had 7 neat stages we could tick off one by one, the “normal” before our loss is no longer an option, no matter how much the people close to us want us to go back in time – we can only ever move forward or stay stuck.
I know it can be difficult to move forward when you’re not sure what the heck to do next. But if you’d like to take those first steps, let me show you how to begin your healing journey with your heart.
“Grieve so that you can be free to feel something else.”~ Nayyirah Waheed
THE HEART CHAKRA
The heart chakra is located in the centre of your chest. It’s the balance point between the 3 lower chakras (tangible) and 3 higher chakras (intangible). Collectively, it feels like the world is moving from the power centre of the 3rd chakra (power, will, determination, confidence) to the more loving and compassionate 4th chakra – the heart (healing, relationship, unity, balance).
So what better time to honour the grief of 2020 and bridge ourselves over to the heart than right now?
The heart chakra is a place where all emotions co-exist. In Sanskrit, it’s called “Anahata” which means “unstruck”. It speaks to the resiliency of the heart and its capacity to always return to a state of wholeness.
A healthy heart chakra allows you to love and accept yourself and others more often than not. It allows you to forgive more easily (without sacrificing boundaries). A healthy heart chakra means you can say no (without feeling guilty) and trust yourself, others and GUS (God, Universe, Spirit/Soul/Source).
“Grief doesn’t define us, it deepens us.” – from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Life constantly asks us to risk our hearts, on a pet who we know will likely die before us, on a bright new romance that might fade, on friendships, careers, or the inner nudges that take us on wild and unpredictable journeys. The fact that we’re wounded by loss shows us how much we care.
Grief is an expression of love. Grief is passionate and dynamic, it’s a full-contact emotion, and the heart chakra is the perfect place to hold the intensity of grief (and all the conflicting and confusing emotions it brings) with the tenderness and compassion it needs to soften.
Grief is the shadow of the heart. It’s what we need to learn to heal so we can steer into even greater depths of love. Brené Brown talks about “soft front, strong back, wild heart” in Braving the Wilderness. It can be challenging to keep your wild heart open when you’re grieving and Brené discusses how when we’re feeling vulnerable we armour up with perfectionism (the 20-tonne shield), numbing and foreboding joy (if we can’t tolerate the vulnerability of joy then every time we feel it we imagine the joy can’t possibly last and start looking for the next disaster).
There are other ways we armour up too. My big ones are humour (especially sarcasm), keeping busy and over-giving so I don’t have to sit and deal with my own shit. Others default to isolating themselves or getting really quiet.
Do you know the ways you armour up?
All this armour and the grief it hides takes a tremendous toll. Our body only lives in the present moment. When we don’t deal with our grief (avoiding, numbing, keeping busy) it lives in our cells as if it’s happening right now. It’s a beautiful way that our bodies hold space for us until we’re brave enough to face our pain but as grief accumulates over time we end up with (dis)ease. After a year like 2020 layers of grief weigh us down getting heavier and heavier and we become more and more exhausted as we try to stuff it down or outrun it.
The good news is, the pain can shift and change if we allow ourselves to feel it.
Shifting the pain requires action, forgiveness, connecting to compassion and choosing to consciously move past the grief (and any of its shadowy friends like anger, shame, guilt, sorrow etc) so they don’t end up in the driver’s seat of our lives.
All the cracks from a broken heart are there to let more love in. 💔
The instinct to hold on
When we love someone our instinct is to hold on tight (a death grip you might say 😏) We’ve finally opened ourselves up to love, and it feels so damn good that we find we’re terrified to lose them, mess things up, or have them taken from us. However, my Nana’s death taught me the opposite – that when you love someone you have to love them enough to let them be free. Sometimes the greatest gift we can bestow on our loved ones is the permission they might be seeking to let their soul take the next stage of its journey. To love them enough to let them go and send our blessings with them. Whether that blessing is to travel to the other side of the world or to transition to ‘the other side’. Love is liberation.
The love you share with someone doesn’t leave you when the person dies.
When my Nana was dying I was overwhelmed with all the beautiful memories I had of her. How even in her golden years she was throwing back vodka sodas with her BFF, a living example of how to be a loyal friend to the end. How she taught me the importance of investing in quality products that made you feel good – especially gold jewelry. How to take exquisite care of your loved ones by vacuuming my pillow at 3 AM when she’d hear me roll over and need to spit my hair out of my mouth because chemo made it fall out in chunks.
As Maya Angelou said, we never forget the way people make us feel. I always felt so loved and important when my Nana greeted me with a radiant smile and an enthusiastic hug. She was unafraid to let everyone see her wildly loving spirit. The people we love keep showing up for us after death, just in a different way, it’s their lessons and memories and love that live on (I’m smiling with a full heart just typing this.)
You see, love soothes the rawest spots and smoothes down the rough edges of grief. Love is waiting to fill the vacancy your pain leaves behind.
Balancing Love & Grief in your Heart Chakra
- Breath is the healer that is always with you. With each inhale open your heart space (try imagining a flower opening petal by petal in the centre of your chest) and invite the loving energy of GUS in. With each exhale, you can choose to surrender and relax into the love that surrounds and supports you.
- Cry. When we release grief, we leave our heart open to new love and new healing. This is one reason that I tell my clients to turn on that faucet and let the tears flow. Crying, sobbing, even wailing are all physical ways to move through grief and help your heart chakra open up.
- Express your love through rituals. Continuing rituals for your loved one who died helps keep the love alive and heals your heart. Cook their favourite meal, listen to their favourite song or watch their favourite movie. Buy a cupcake (or their favourite dessert), light a candle for their birthday, and connect with your favourite memories of your time together.
- Connect with others. Love doesn’t exist in a vacuum (celebrity crushes aside). It exists in relationship and strengthens the bonds between us. Give yourself permission to love and be loved in return. Reach out with a good ol’ fashioned phone call and feel the love through the lines.
- Write some love letters (let’s make Valentine’s a celebration of more than just romantic love). Write a love letter to people you love or have loved. To your family. To yourself! To someone who has died. No rules and no one needs to see them unless you want to show them. Bonus: if you want to pay the love forward to brighten a stranger’s day check out moreloveletters.com
All this to say…
Keep moving forward.
Keep taking action to help heal your heart.
Because as our hearts break with the accumulated grief of these last few years all those cracks become an opportunity to let in even more love (thanks for the reminder Leonard Cohen).
Continue your healing by downloading the Beginner’s Guide to Grief right here. It’s free.