Last winter I was down in Venice CA taking class with the beautiful Hala Khouri, and I’ll never forget what she said at the end of class as we lay in rest at the end of class with one hand on our heart…
She asked us to feel for where our heart beats, she said, ‘in this room right now some of our hearts, they’re breaking, some of our hearts are falling in love, some hearts full, some empty, some broken, some healing’ — she reminded us gently that this is always how it is, that at any moment you can look around at the people around you and know this much is true:
Beating. Your beating heart. And it’s what we are, and it’s what we’ve always been, and will be, it’s our rhythm, it’s our soul, and it’s going to be as loud as you let it. Say this:
my heart is beating. I am breathing
Say it LOUD.
My heart is beating. I am breathing. My heart is beating. I am breathing.
We are afraid of our broken hearts, and we are afraid for the broken hearts of others. We are afraid of our full hearts, and the full hearts of others. We don’t know that our hearts are beating most moments, until there’s a compromise, until we hear the news:
‘I don’t know what happened…her heart just stopped beating’
In those slow motion moments we often times take a hand to our own heart, we remember, and then we move quickly, back into the day, the check of the checklist, we stop on red and go on green, the things that make sense. The things we can control.
In matters of the heart, there is no control. As I fall deeper in love with my partner, it’s like a landslide, and it’s beautiful and terrifying all at once. When I look at him I feel my heart beat, when my heart beats faster and loud, when we’re close, when it slows down in the soft comfort of laying side by side…when it hurts, when it breaks, when it’s full, when it’s empty…all of it, and it’s hard to look him in the eyes when it feels like it’s breaking, and I wonder when my hearts full, is his? Are we okay. Am I okay. Are you okay. Does he know I’m terrified. Does he know I’m a hypocrite asking others to feel their heart beat while hiding from my own. If he were to know how truly broken I felt some days would he move on.
In class yesterday I dropped to my knees in child’s pose and my body began to shake and tremble. In a soft way, the beautiful teacher asked us ‘what do you need to ask for’ ‘what do you need to call in’ and again and again the word forgiveness moved through my whole body. Forgiveness felt like one million earthquakes, and instead of being ashamed…I let myself shake and tremble, I asked for forgiveness again and again, the word repeating itself through my body, and I felt release.
I asked for forgiveness in the places I feel I have come up short lately, connections that I felt far from, people I had let down, the fact that I haven’t talked to my parents in over 2-months, not strong enough to hold the phone up and be with whatever I heard. Forgiveness for the shame I felt in remembering all the times I that I hadn’t done enough, that I was not enough, that I’d never be enough. Forgiveness for all the reasons why I could not be close, why I had to go, why I couldn’t stay…to heal so I can truly be open to what my heart beats for in the first place, our hearts, it’s love.
And it moved through me and I began to stop shaking. I felt my hands on the ground, and I felt my heart beat. I extended grace to myself that it was all okay. That I was in every way, exactly where I am supposed to be.
And it moved through me. And it was not me. And it was all of me. And all we can do is ask for the grace to begin again.
So that’s what I did.
Everyday I draw a stronger commitment to listening to my heart. When I do, I know joy in it’s purest form. When I do, I know pain in it’s darkest hours. When I don’t…I’m gone from you, I’m not even here.
Broken. Full. Empty. Joyful. Open. Closed. Falling. Loving. Beating heart.
Put your hand on your heart. Say this. My heart is beating. I am breathing.
Now what, dear friend, are you going to do about that?
You will find your way…but you gotta be brave. And when you need help, ask for it.