When I find myself most vulnerable, I allow myself to drop the armor protecting my heart so that I can feel what's underneath, which often is sorrow or pain or humiliation or shame, but right below that, love and joy and often even glee. But it’s not easy getting under there — to the place of the naked heart.
Like knights of old who dutifully wear their armor to protect themselves and their kings, we become so wedded to our protective layers that we often don’t even know they're there.
My friend Lauren taught a yoga class recently. She called it a Devotional class. She spoke beautiful words, like poetry, throughout the entire class. Because of the power of her words and the depth of her meaning, I allowed myself to slowly remove the bricks, the blocks, and the scabs surrounding my heart.
The class wasn't about the asana. I'm an asana junkie. I like my classes to be artfully designed. And this one wasn’t bad; it’s just that the sequencing wasn't the main focus. Yet I still got so much out of it.
She asked us to think of someone we knew loved us unconditionally. I struggled with this. I vacillated from my father to my husband to my son, pausing to ponder that they were all the men in my life, and then I realized I was avoiding the one creature who I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, even in her devastating absence, the female in my life once upon a time: my mom.
I knew it was she who loved me most certainly, no matter my behavior. I conjured her face into my consciousness. The tears sprang forth from my eyes. And after letting them drain for a moment, I felt my heart feel lighter.
And I felt myself take off a layer of protective armor around my heart.
My husband and I were sitting on the couch. The main male character of the movie we were watching was struggling with the pressures of being the breadwinner. My husband spoke up, “It’s so difficult being the man sometimes.” I froze. I wanted to explore this line of his thinking, but I didn’t want to pressure him. I recognized he was allowing himself to be truly seen, something I've so desperately longed for in my marriage. I wanted to jump up and party and say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” But I didn’t want to frighten him and ruin the moment.
Instead I sat still and held his hand, stroking it gently. In our counseling session shortly after, I brought this moment up. He had forgotten it and was surprised to learn of the impact it had on me.
The counselor asked, “Why was this so meaningful for you?”
“Because we (my family and I) are so grateful for everything he does,” I tried to say, but when the words were halfway out, so were the tears. I choked up and had to take a moment to breathe before I could share my sentiments of gratitude and appreciation. My husband, too, became emotional at the sight of my pure intentions, the sheer madness of how often we shield from one another becoming apparent. We all took a moment to let the beauty of the connection soak in.
Another layer of the onion peeled back.
When we allow our heart to be seen and felt, when we allow it to be naked, without shielding and protection, without sarcasm and jaded sensibilities, we are at once wildly delicate and insanely powerful. The membrane between our spiritual world and our physical world can be so subtle, if we so allow. I believe it's in this moment that we are truly at our essence, at one with the Universe and the life source that flows within us and through us when we are at our highest potential.
When I meditate, when I get on the mat, when I write, it's this sensibility I am hopeful of reaching. I call this a practice of undressing the pain and exposing the naked heart. Undressing the pain to access the layer of truth beneath so that we can be connected to our spirit and to our loved ones, so that we can set about our true purpose of manifesting the Divine. I offer this to you humbly.