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practice opening your heart

practice opening your heart

by Amy DeFilippi amy defilippi
Practice Yoga | Personal Story

resolution of love
Many of us resolve to take better care of ourselves and exercise more, practice more regularly, eat healthier, etc. What if we looked at taking care of our hearts as a resolution that all other resolutions can grow from? What if we had made our new year’s resolution to practice opening our hearts a little more every day?

Many of us live as if our love is a finite resource rather than a renewable energy. Sometimes life is so stressful that we are left to feel emotionally and spiritually drained. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about love and how we share and receive this resource with each other and with our loved ones. 
I have come to find that with dedicated practice we can all live in a more loving and receptive way. I once heard Krishna Das say something along the lines of “Open the dark rooms of your heart and there you will find more love". It takes courage to love without seeking anything in return. To be focused on the process of loving rather than the outcome of being loved.

Asana is an excellent place to begin this practice. If we practice with physical goals like touching the floor or our toes as the outcome, and neglect the mindful and diligent process we risk injury.  When we are curious about how our body opens and breathe with encouragement and love we find that our hands eventually reach the earth and beyond. When we give love for the sake of loving, with no thought of its return then we are creating this renewable energy ourselves.  When we have the courage to share love the dark rooms of our heart open and we let more light in. Resolve not to be afraid to show your love. Your love for yourself is the love from which all other love grows, so begin there.
Here are 5 ways to develop love

1. Notice how you talk to yourself. Is it filled with criticism and insult? Can you replace that voice with a more compassionate and encouraging one?

2. Meditate on gratitude. You will find that when you spend time actively conjuring thoughts of gratitude your heart begins to expand.

3. Smile more. Smiling has actually been proven to lift one’s mood and it is easier to give and receive love in a positive mood.

4. Send loving kindness to strangers. When you are walking down the street, in the subway or in a café, look at different people and make a wish for their happiness.

5. Practice mudita, or sympathetic joy. When something good happens to someone you know (or don’t know) practice being sincerely happy for them without reflecting on how their happiness affects you or doesn’t.

 May all of the above help you be safe, free from suffering, filled with happiness and loving kindness.

 “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” - Mother Teresa