What it means to Listen to your Heart
My heart has spoken to me my entire life, as my guide, my cheerleader, and my anchor. I'm good at following my intuition and leading with my heart when it suits me, but if the situation or feeling is painful, I do my best to shut my heart down. I quiet its screaming pain - every. single. time.
My heart breaks and I reason with it. I make up excuses, add logic, and embark on a clever search for a solution. In the meantime, my heart and my feelings have no time to be heard or acknowledged. The feelings of hurt, betrayal, regret, abandonment, all get pushed aside, and as a result, these uncomfortable feelings are never really dealt with, just buried and left to resurface the next time a familiar trigger arrives.
I spent 2 days in complete silence while at my yoga teacher training. The challenge was an introvert's dream, and I was really looking forward to it. But the experience didn't turn out the way I expected.
The first obvious benefit of being silent was that I had much more time on my hands. I locked up my phone so I had no access to texts or social media. In the evening I found myself a little bored and slightly anxious. I sat in a comfortable chair and tried to read a book, but my heart raced frantically. Something was wrong...
It was as if my heart had been waiting for this moment for me to really get quiet. I love my quiet and alone time, and I do it often. But I keep myself busy, with work, shopping, yoga or writing. This time was different. This time I had nowhere to run.
The opening of silence made space for every emotion I had ever shoved down to come rising up.
I took out my journal and wrote. There was no one to call and no other distraction. I wrote about past pain and experiences, everything from childhood bullying to boyfriends to my marriage and ex husband. I wrote pages of anger and resentment and fear. The anxiousness turned into a panic as I realized how much I hadn't dealt with, how many difficult emotions I hadn't honored. What if I can't do this? What if I shouldn't be thinking about these things?
My writing turned to insight. I wrote to a scared little girl who needed to be held. I wrote to a confused wife who needed to be validated.
After the 2 days I was happy to come out of silence. I was still shaken by the experience and all that surfaced. I knew the process wasn't over, but it was a start. At least some layers had been pulled off and I could breathe. I felt lighter.
My heart has been waiting a lifetime for me to notice it. And I've spent a lifetime trying to get acknowledgement from others. In doing so, I completely abandoned myself.
Maybe that's where my fear of abandonment comes from. Maybe it's not fear of a man leaving me, but fear of me never returning to myself.
I vow to never disown an emotion again, no matter how painful or scary. I made it through the 2 days in silence, and I didn't die. I made it through the month of training, and I rode the waves of emotion. Like always, the waves subsided, and landed lovingly at shore. I healed myself because I stayed with my heart. For the first time, I didn't try to reason my way out, I just existed in that moment. Listening to my heart felt so overdue and bittersweet. I think my heart was saying to me, "Yes, I've been waiting for you."
The ultimate self care and self acknowledgement can be listening to your own heart. You don't need to follow every whim or instinct. Just sit and listen, and be there for yourself. The same way we don't dismiss our children or our friends when they need something, we shouldn't shove ourself aside. And sitting in silence with someone in pain, holding space, is often the greatest gift we can offer.