December Inspiration of the Month
Fourth Chakra – Anahata
English translation – unstuck, unhurt
Element – Air
Colour – Green
Purpose – Love, compassion
Location – Heart, Chest
Bij Mantra – YUM
Demon - Grief
Associated right: The Right To Love and Be Loved
"If I asked you; what are the things you love in your life?
How long would your list go for, before you mentioned yourself?" / unknown
Unconditional love – what does it really mean?
Everyone knows this expression, and we think we know all about it, apart from the fact if we have experienced it yet or not. Most of us would say it is a love without any conditions, a love where there is no need to receive anything back in return, you simply give love to someone right from your heart. But it is even more than that: “This Love includes open-heartedness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, sweetness, non-violence, and a strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others.” And this unconditional love is what a Buddhist teacher calls True love.
Anodea Judith goes a bit further in her explanation about the heart chakra. She says: “There is a great difference between being in love with a particular person or a particular place and Being Love as a spiritual state.
“Being in love” with someone may be a very exciting emotional condition but is often accompanied by attachment. Attachment gives us the feeling of: how can this relationship fulfill MY needs?”
This is a question that many of us ask when it comes to relationships but trying to find an answer seems a bit hopeless. We cannot expect someone else to be in charge of our own happiness. Happiness is something that we will find inside ourselves, if we only dig deep enough. And that is probably the scariest part. When removing shell after shell to find a true connection to our soul, removing all the layers that somehow landed on us, we will also stumble upon old wounds and memories we prefer to suppress and ignore, we would rather not look at because hurts too much.
But in order to find a happiness that is constant, pure and deeply rooted within us, even through life’s biggest storms, we need to dig deeper. We need to be willing to open our heart. We need to be willing to let light in through the cracks. Only then we can find a happiness that doesn’t depend on other beings, on circumstances or even on materialistic things.
This is clearly not an easy task, and one that requires continuous and constant practice.
So, how can we come closer to this unshakable happiness and unconditional love? What practices are there to help us healing our heart chakra?
Buddhism refers to the four Viharas and with them gives us tools (specific meditations) to cultivate them:
Metta or Maitreya – Loving Kindness: “The intention and capacity to bring joy and loving kindness to another.”
The “loving kindness meditation” is a special practice where we learn to give unconditional love and kindness not only to ourselves and our loved ones, but also to people who might have done us wrong or people with whom we have issues.
I was introduced tot his practice quite early in my Yoga practice and through the years I keep coming back to it, again and again. I find it extremely powerful and wanted to share this with you. Scroll down for instructions.
Karuna – Compassion: “The capacity to be present with pain. Compassion can transform or remove suffering from ourselves or another person. One practise is forgiveness.“
Mudita – Sympathetic joy: “The rejoicing in the happiness of others. Includes gratitude practices.”
Gratitude is a simple practice that we can easily introduce in our daily life. You can either start a gratitude journal, writing down at least three things that you are grateful for each day. After a while it becomes easier and easier and you will find yourself writing more than three things because you start to appreciate the small things more or actually start to recognize it more.
Upekka – Equanimity: “Unconditional love in the face of compelling desire or strong dislike.”
Upekka means remaining calm, softened, even during tension and provocation.
When strong emotions come up, try to label them as whatever they are; “frustration”, “violent thoughts”, “anger”, “grief”, “sadness”, “shame” – this way we don’t identify ourselves with these feelings. We understand that we are NOT these feelings, and that they will come and go.
We will come to realize that all these stressful and angry thoughts towards another being only disturb our own peace of mind and our own wellbeing. We only harm ourselves with that. And once we realize it, it is easier to choose more compassion, kindness, forgiveness and finally unconditional love.
When in balance: A sense of harmony, you will feel open towards others, receptive, safe and courageous.
Deficient heart chakra: lifeless, slow-moving, passive, numb, blocked, turned inwards; issues such as social anxiety, isolation, and self-critical thoughts may appear.
Excessive heart chakra:
lively, agitated, reactive, aggressive, manic.
Asana: back bends are the asanas that are most associated with the heart chakra and they open the front of the heart. However forward bends are also important as open the back of the heart, an area that for many of us is tight and stuck.
Working with the arms, as they represent the wings of our heart.
I am love
I am worthy of love
I am loving to myself and others
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu - May all beings be happy and free
There is a very inspirational quote that we should remember sometimes in order to open our hearts to others, showing love, compassion and kindness:
“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” – William Penn
Metta Bhavana – Loving Kindness Meditation
“In the end, just three things matter:
How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go”
― Jack Kornfield
Come to a comfortable seated position. This practice can also be done lying down.
Once you have made yourself comfortable take a few moments and breaths to settle and arrive into the present moment; physically, mentally and emotionally.
At first, focus on yourself. Try to bring your intention to your heart space and chest area. You may even take one hand to your heart. Feel within. Is there any physical or emotional blockage that you can sense? Any tension? Anything that makes you feel discomfort? Try to be with whatever you may sense. Try to be as non-judgmental and kind to yourself as you can be. You feel whatever you feel. You can try to imagine putting an anchor to your heart to really connect with yourself and open yourself up to self-love and care towards your own being.
Before we start giving love to others, we must make sure that we don’t do it because we expect love in return because we lack self-love ourselves. We have to love ourselves unconditionally first. Try to imagine the amount of love that you can find within your heart today that is reserved only for you and try to feel it, own it.
Step 2; A loved one
Bring into your mind and your heart someone you love dearly, with whom you have no issues at present moment, It can often be a child or a pet. Anyone that you feel great love towards.
Visualize them and Send this person or being all the love you have for him/her in his/her direction. You can repeat phrases like:
“May you be protected and safe.”
“May you be happy”
“May you be healthy”
“May you be loved”
“May you enjoy all the beauty that this world has to offer”
Stay here for 3-5 minutes repeating these sentences and blessings, visualize the being you have chosen, and become aware of the feelings you might be experiencing as you go deeper into the practice.
Step 3; A neutral person
Bring into your mind and your heart someone neutral. Someone who is not necessarily a friend, but with whom you don’t have any issues. It can be the person from the groceries shop, a bus driver, someone you might see often but perhaps don’t even know their name.
Visualize them and Send this person all the same blessings you wished your loved one.
Stay here for 3-5 minutes repeating these sentences and blessings, visualize the person you have chosen, and become aware of the feelings you might be experiencing as you go deeper into the practice.
Step 4; someone difficult
The last part is the hardest one: Choose a person you struggle with because of some unresolved issues or whatever it might be. Someone that perhaps brought you to dark places.
Try and send this person the same wished you wished the being you love and the neutral being.
Observe what comes up. What is the story? What are the feelings?
We do this so we can let go and become free. As long as we hold on to anger and blame, we are not free. And we only hurt ourselves. Not the person we resent or blame.
The only way out is through….
Allow whatever emotions arise to come through you, while you keep the practice.
If you find It difficult to express kindness towards this person and sending your love without being attached to anger or other negative feelings that still arise, you can try saying “To the best of my ability I wish him/her to be safe and protected…”.
There are a lot of very good guided loving kindness meditations to find online which will lead you through this process. Might be easier to begin with.
Step 5: Yourself
To end the practice bring yourself into your mind and heart, and for 3-5 minutes wish yourself the same wishes and blessings you wished all others.