The Courage of the Open Heart

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some conversations with people that have provided openings. They have opened up the relationships to become deeper. They have opened up closed doors and let in light and air. They have opened up my understanding about the value of stepping into the scary parts of interpersonal relationships that we fear because they have become no-go zones, designed to protect feelings, but now are just closed doors that no one wants to open because the potential for hurt was established and being hurt is no fun.

We hear a lot about being fearless, about how living with courage is the only way to live, and we think, “Take that risk; buy that house, move to that new city, quit your job and start a business.” Those are acts of courage certainly, but they pale in comparison to the risk we feel we are taking when we bare our souls, our hearts, to the potential for hurt. Those are the true acts of fearlessness.scary door

Even if you decide to take that risk, to open those carefully closed doors, your instinct for self-preservation can still kick in. How often do we go into a conversation feeling like we’re preparing for battle? How often to we begin conversations from a place of guarded defensiveness? It’s the natural tendency to desire to protect yourself. It’s also not very effective in getting those doors open or in avoiding hurt feelings.

An open and fearless heart is the only way you can speak the truth about the things that are hard, that are hurtful, that scare the pants off of us. It is the truth that the only way to defeat fear is with courage. Courage is not being without fear, it is acting despite it. So where do you go to find the courage that you need to open doors, to build the bridges to this loving and gentle truth?

It is in the moment. In the now. It is in seeing and acknowledging the fear. It is in accepting that there is potential for hurt, but also that there is hurt in the fear. It is in knowing through experience that all things arise and then all things cease.

It is in the allowing for the gentle tenderness of your heart to feel for yourself and your pain, and to acknowledge the potential for pain in another, and choosing to act in a way that respects that without avoiding it.

When those things come into play in relationships, those land mines are defused, the locked doors are opened, and the air and light moves through, the depth of intimacy, of connection grow exponentially. The hearts of both people are softened and opened to each other. Each time it becomes easier, less frightening, more worth the risk.

Develop mindfulness, quiet and open the mind, and the heart will soften, the courage will grow, and love, trust, and understanding will blossom.

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