Sunday, February 15, 2009

Open Heart

I was talking to my friend about Life and she was talking about Ram Das and the idea of keeping your heart open in hell. If you're going to talk about Life, hell will come up and if you're talking with this friend, Heart will come up, so it made sense.

"If you have to write it down it doesn't mean anything." she said. It didn't matter, the phrase keep your heart open in hell was post-it-noted to my brain already.

And the days went on with Life and stuff, and I just kept thinking about the idea of keeping your heart open in hell. And how many hellish opportunities we have, really, how many things are jabbling at that pulpy beating thing, trying to get it to recoil, and permanently shut up. How many things ask the shoulders to curve over it, permanently, like a bone-umbrella, protecting its soft pitter-patters and even its loud ba-bums. How many things ask for a bullet-proof breast-plate, a book hugged to a chest, a quiet tongue, a dark eye. There are just too many opportunities for it to harden or close or darken, it can almost seem the natural course of things, it can almost seem part of being adult, to grow jaded.

And when I went to yoga I was in bound side-angle, noticing how my arms and legs wrapped and sweaty made a salty pretzel out of my limbs, but my heart still peeled open toward the ceiling. And in chair pose, as close to hell as my thighs got during those 90 minutes, I noticed my heart was still open and yearning, I practiced peeling open my shoulders and shining the heart out like highbeams even though I was uncomfortable, and I did not flinch. I was reminded again of the metaphor of yoga, and thankful for the space to physicaly, viserally practice keeping my heart open and receptive and non-reactive in moments of discomfort.

"Most of life is uncomfortable," said my friend. And I knew this wasn't pessimism, but optimism, at having so many opportunities to practice keeping open and receptive in the face of loss, pain, confusion, etc, etc.