Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Isn’t it wonderful when the heart is in balance, where feelings of love and appreciation, connectedness and compassion take center stage? But when this energetic balance is off-kilter, a darker side often emerges and we experience periods of depression, anger, jealousy, resentment or bitterness. Mainly, we just feel ornery towards ourselves and those around us.
If you would like to break this pattern of unpleasantness — or simply give your heart chakra a well-deserved tuneup — the following eight practices can help you cultivate a more joyful, openhearted approach to life.
Feeding the Heart
It goes without saying that if we consume a low quality diet of processed, toxic or sugar laden foods, our body will become seriously imbalanced — and this includes the energetic heart center. However, the opposite is also true — we can tailor our diet to specifically support our highest well-being. In the case of the heart chakra, the focus is on green foods for rejuvenation. Look to kiwis, avocados, leafy greens, sprouts, broccoli, wheat grass, moringa herb, blue green algae, pistachio and honeydew melon.
Similarly, we can immerse ourselves in the green of nature. There is nothing quite like a tree filled stroll to soothe the heart and spirt. A perfect example is shinrin yoku, the Japanese art of “forest bathing” — a practice that dramatically improves both mental and physical health. If you feel as though your heart could be a bit lighter or a tad more open and peaceful, give shinrin yoku a try. All you need is a patch of forest, a little time and verbal silence.
As wisely observed by Mother Theresa, “If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” By holding onto unresolved issues concerning life or relationship, our hearts can become burdened and closed down. One of the surest ways to liberate the heart is to forgive. We’re not talking about platitudes or sugarcoating harm that has been done to us. Instead, we’re open to the depth of our feelings involving the situation, person or event — and then, when we’re ready, we let it go.
An excellent tool for forgiving ourselves — and those who have hurt us — is Ho’oponopono, an ancient practice used by Hawaiian shamans. You can learn more about the technique here.
Often overlooked because of its simplicity, gratitude is a lovely way to feed our hearts. Not only will relationships and health benefit, but our happiness expands as well.
To get into the swing of things, a daily gratitude journal with 5-10 entries is helpful. Or challenge yourself to write a thank you note each day (and deliver it), as this fellow did. If you’re drawn to photography, using a camera to document one object of gratitude each day can literally change your life. Sticky notes are another fun way to express your appreciation at home, work or around town.
Don’t underestimate the power of essential oils to balance and heal the heart chakra. Ananda Apothecary gives the following advice. To comfort and open a grieving heart, rose otto and rose absolute are two exceptionally beneficial oils. When you feel as though your heart is constricted or in self-protection mode, melissa, neroli and ylang ylang help to gently nurture and reopen the heart center.
To use, combine three to four drops of each essential oil with 8 ounces of a carrier oil (almond, avocado or apricot kernel are good choices). Rub into the heart area several times each day or use as a full body massage oil.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
When we feel as though the weight of the world is on our shoulders, or that our heart is much too heavy, EFT is an exceptional tool for releasing stagnant emotions and fostering more lightheartedness. Based on specific acupuncture points, the technique involves an initial healing statement followed by gentle tapping on certain areas of the body.
The Heart Chakra Coach provides full instructions and visual chart for tapping into love and removing energetic blockages.
Whether you’re dealing with a broken heart or feel you could be more joyful, Anusara yoga can help with its focus on heart-opening poses. Practice asanas like Love Raid, Extended Side Angle Pose, Low Lunge, Twisting Low Lunge and Honey-in-the-Heart Pose.
Likewise, loving-kindness (metta) meditation is a powerful tool for unlocking the heart as well. If you would like to learn how to bring this form of meditation into your life, Sharon Salzberg offers guided instructions in the video below.
These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling for cultivating a more openhearted approach to life.
Most importantly, get creative, explore and have fun!
Guided Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation with Sharon Salzberg
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