Open or Closed Heart?

The other day I parked in front of this house and went to yoga. I stepped out of the car and felt a little nervous because the house had boards nailed across every window and three large dogs guarding a gate. My first thought was "What the heck is going on inside this house that they don't want anyone to see?"

I felt so uncomfortable that I almost moved my car to another spot, but I was running late so I abandoned my grand plan and skipped off to yoga. During class, as my mind searched for something to fixate on I remembered the house. In a moment of awareness, I heard myself turning my initial thoughts around to become "What don't they want to let in?" My heart softened, and I felt like I knew this house.

What don't we want to let in?

I'm guessing all of us grab hold to the belief that we are naturally loving, caring, nurturing, and giving. Well, gosh I have a whole laundry list of things I've done to prove this: taking care of people, volunteering my time, donating money, teaching, listening to others, etc. Most often we use our actions to prove our hearts are open.

Nevertheless, over the last year I have noticed that a physically, emotionally, and spiritually open heart is much more passive and subtle. It doesn't require that I do anything.

Lately, I've started an awareness practice where I periodically check in with my heart to see if it's open or closed. If it's closed, my heart feels like a clenched fist holding on tight for dear life. If it's open, my heart feels like an empty palm. I do this practice in the middle of conversations, driving my car on errands, standing in line at the grocery store, talking on the phone, etc.

I have to say that I was shocked how many times my heart feels a lot like this boarded up house. This new honesty was disappointing at first, but then I realized that it was just like practicing a yoga posture. Every time I encounter the closed fist heart, I imagine releasing each finger one by one into an open palm. Then I see my whole hand relaxing and sense that tender spot in the middle of my palm that is completely open and empty.

This practice isn't moving me towards a destination. It's ongoing. It's a promise to connect with my own heart wherever it's at and to accept it completely whether I'm ready to let something in or not.


  1. A nice post, Beth... btw, maybe that house is just not manicured? lol...or an elderly person lives there by themselves... then again what one thinks is closed up may not be to another....or its a sign that the owner wants someone to take notice..

  2. Beautiful post! I need to remember to have an open heart more often, to not judge so quickly, to step into their shoes first.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I just love this visual of the open palm heart. I had a sense during the reading of this post that my heart was closed. So I took a moment to breathe. And to open the fingers of my heart. Thank you for that, Miss Beth. You have inspired me today. Enjoy the day!

  4. Beth, thanks for the lovely post! I agree with you. I have been trying to do the same thing, but with less success than you! But I do feel that I have been more open lately, and it's because you have to open your heart and see what others are seeing, and going through!

  5. This was so great to read this morning... I love how you've been practicing this with your visualization... I too can relate, and this post has inspired me to keep trying, and to remain consistent with my heart works... I will try this visualization... It's ironic because I just hearted your charm with the heart in the hand, I think last night! what a beautiful story Beth, thanks...

  6. Excellent post! I know my heart has been more closed lately, and this a good reminder to work on opening it back up again. Thank you:-)

  7. beth, i have been thinking about this post all day... i didn't want to respond quickly... it's too deeply felt a post for that... i appreciate your sharing this - what a powerful moment when you made the connection between the house and yourself... i thank you sincerely for the visualization - and i look forward to integrating it into my existing practices...

  8. "What don't we want to let in?"....Great question to continue asking our hearts. Love the "open" or "closed" self examination too. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Chrissy, it's fun to see all the many different perceptions about something. I like how it leads to all sorts of new discoveries.

    Happy to share this with you, Alice! Glad it gave you something new to ponder.

    Glad this visual image of the palm inspired you Erin!

    Erica, wonderful to be in process alongside you!

    Mary Jane, I'm so glad you saw this one and felt what I was trying to say. Hope you enjoy this practice and see how it changes you :)

    Lynx of Silver, wonderful that this question was something that resonnated with you too!

    Too much Kismet, Lauren! What fun that you are enjoying this visualization process :)

    Sue, great to be on the journey with you! I too must challenge myself every day to look with equanimity.


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