When the ego’s heart breaks, then the heart closes and contracts. When the Unique Self’s heart breaks, the heart opens through the pain into greater love. For your ego, the interior face of the kosmos is at best a concept. For Unique Self, the interior face of the kosmos is the infinity of intimacy.
“Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”
~William Butler Yeats, “The Circus Animal’s Desertion”
In the first session of the Awakening Your Unique Self 10-week telecourse on Wednesday, April 24, heart and wisdom master Dr. Marc Gafni reminded listeners of two important things about the heart: “Every time your heart breaks, it opens more deeply.” And “Every time you break your heart, you become more whole. There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.”
It is in this place of broken-heartedness, this “rag and bone shop of the heart” in Yeats’ words, that we often first encounter the Beloved, who is inviting us to our growth.
Jean Houston writes of the “sacred wound” in her book The Search for the Beloved. She says:
“In times of suffering, when you feel abandoned, perhaps even annihilated, there is occurring—at levels deeper than your pain—the entry of the sacred, the possibility of redemption. Wounding opens the doors of our sensibility to a larger reality, which is blocked to our habituated and conditioned point of view. Consciousness that had been previously well-robotized and trained to the consensual perspective of our particular culture is excruciatingly sensitized and has a vastly extended sensorium. Pathos gives us eyes and ears to see and hear what our normal eyes and ears cannot.
“Disconnected from the myth, from the Larger Story, and from the sacred, we seek to ‘understand’ our pain, or find relief from it as quickly and comfortably as possible. Or we resort to blame and seek to avenge the wrongs done to us. Thus we turn our backs on the knocking at the door of our souls.
“Sacred psychology offers an alternative: not always a comfortable one, or even always a “safe” one, but a very powerful one. Sacred psychology invites you to allow your wounds to stay open; to take off the Band-Aids and cover-ups; to allow the engagement of the Great Story; to link the local self to universal patterns; and to sacrifice the old story to which you were bonded so that the new story may become manifest through you.
“This is not an invitation to self-pity, self-flagellation, victimization, or martyrdom. It is not an invitation to court disaster or to revel in inauthentic suffering. Nor is it an invitation to the realm of Pollyanna. Suffering is real and soul-rending in our time. Despair, hopelessness, burnout, and a radical experience of impotence strike many who are most committed to offering alternatives.” (Jean Houston, The Search for the Beloved, pages 106-107).
To access the spiritual heart, which is the key to this practice of opening through pain, try the following heart meditation with Sally Kempton, author of Meditation for the Love of It and the recently released Awakening Shakti:
Read through the instructions, and then close your eyes and practice!
Sit with your back comfortably erect. Begin by putting your attention into the heart region, in the center of your chest, into the region of the heart. This is not the physical heart, but the subtle heart center. To find it, place your fingertips in the center of the breastbone, about 8 fingerwidths down from the u-shaped bone at the neck. The heart center is just behind that part of the breastbone. Once you have located the space, you may place your hands in your lap, palms down on your knees.
Feel that the breath is gently flowing in and out through your heart.
As the breath flows in, let its gentle touch soften and expand your heart. As the breath flows out, let it carry away any thoughts that arise. Let each breath softly loosen and carry away any blocks or barriers.
Stay with the breath as it flows gently in and out of the heart. With each breath feel your heart softening, opening. Let yourself rest in the heart.
Try the meditation now for 15 minutes. After you finish and while resting in your heart space, think of a time when your heart contracted and closed in egoic pain. Then, remember a time when you were able to open through the pain into greater love. Do you notice the different taste between these two experiences? What is that difference like? Tell us about your experience by commenting either here or on the CWS Facebook page.
“Heart once again enters—
Enters hunger, enters sorrow,
Enters finally losing it all.
To know, if nothing else,
What it once owned.”
from ”The Kingdom,” Jane Hirshfield
Explore your Unique shadow and wound in the 10-week Awakening Your Unique Self telecourse going on now! It’s not too late to register. Do it today—for all the outrageous pain in the world, including yours, that needs your unique contribution and outrageous love to heal it!