Where does loneliness come from and what can you do when you feel lonely? Loneliness signals a loss of connection with that which is most essential – our hearts. What are the habits of your heart? Are you trusting? Open? Loving? Who are you really?
When I considered these questions, I sincerely believed I was an open, trusting person. Then I went to my first Ren Xue retreat. While there, the image of a small, tightly closed walnut drifted into my consciousness. I knew immediately it symbolized my heart and I was mortified! Our hearts have the capacity to be as big as the ocean – and mine was smaller than a golf ball! The disparity shocked me.
Later that day, as if to drive home the urgency of this realization, the song “Unchain My Heart” began running through my mind constantly. The message was unmistakable! On that remarkable day, I began to seriously cultivate my heart.
Mind vs Heart; Inside vs Outside
Our western culture favors the mind, the intellect, science, and distractions. There is little room for that which cannot be quantified or measured and little inclination to look inside for answers. This bias is encoded into the software that runs our lives via our phones, computers, and tablets. We may have many online friends but it’s the feeling of genuine love and connection we crave. No wonder we feel so alone!
Perhaps you’ve tried all those things typically recommended to the lonely. Maybe some were helpful, but they still didn’t address the connection that you yearn to have in your life. So, what’s next?
It’s unlikely you will find the answer in the external world, or in a single person, pet, or hobby, wonderful as they might be. In REN XUE (the study of life) we turn our focus inward to our hearts and to our authentic selves to answer such questions.
What does it mean to open your heart?
With time and attention, my heart has opened more and more, although it’s still not the size of an ocean. The change is evident in my interactions with others and in my more relaxed state of being. One day I met a friend for lunch. We were waiting for the hostess to seat us but she was looking down at the floor and not acknowledging us. I could feel my friend’s annoyance growing and could feel her preparing to create a scene when my heart, on its own, expanded and radiated love and appreciation to the hostess. A moment later she looked up at me slightly confused, then smiled and showed us to the best table. The heart’s ability to navigate these tricky situations is astonishing. As our connection to our true selves and our hearts improves, people are drawn to us and it’s easier to connect with people because our openness and sense of well-being are magnetic.
How to connect with your heart?
I invite you to try connecting to your heart. Put your attention there. To strengthen your focus put your hands over your heart. Ask for guidance. Be sincere and your heart will answer, maybe not in the moment, but be alert and you will know the answer when it appears. Your answer may come in a dream, an overheard conversation, or the whisper of your inner voice.
How can you begin to cultivate your heart? Throughout the day, I find that reconnecting with my heart makes an enormous difference in how my day unfolds. I often stop what I am doing, put my attention on my heart, and remember to connect with a moment in my life when my heart was filled with love, joy, or peace. Try it. You might also try using the heart prayer. It’s simple yet powerful.
Click on the video below to hear the heart prayer.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dA0iSczX7c[/embedyt]
Read the heart prayer or listen to it with sincerity a few times a day – or more. Printing a copy of the heart prayer or memorizing it is very helpful. Put your skepticism aside. It has no place in the realm of the heart. Let its compassion saturate your heart, your very being.
Perhaps you are ready to dive in further?
Try the Opening the Heart method through our At Home Learning program. It is a combination of meditation and contemplation that effectively cultivates the five essential qualities of the heart – trust openness, love, gratitude, and true respect.
I invite you to join me on this path with heart. Along the way to getting to know yourself better, you will meet many warm-hearted travelers. Join the REN XUE community!