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Ready For Bold Self-Love? Try These 4 Tone Ups For The Heart Chakra

Erica Matluck, N.D., N.P.
Naturopathic Doctor & Nurse Practitioner By Erica Matluck, N.D., N.P.
Naturopathic Doctor & Nurse Practitioner
Erica Matluck, N.D., N.P. is an NYC-based naturopathic doctor, nurse practitioner, and holistic coach.
How to Tone-Up the Heart Chakra

Image by mbg Creative x David Yanutama / Unsplash

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There are over 700,000 heart attacks reported each year in the U.S., and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in this country. Rightfully so, conventional medicine puts a great deal of effort toward preventing heart disease. And yet, our nation continues to die of heartbreak—literally. Managing risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity can be very effective, yet I believe there is an additional dimension to the heart that requires an entirely different kind of support. 

When the great poet Rumi wrote "you have to keep breaking your heart until it opens," he was not talking about the physical organ. He was talking about an emotional experience that many of us are familiar with. Emotional heartbreak can cause great pain and suffering, but it can also lead to breakthrough. With each heartbreak, we learn how to give and receive love more fully. 

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, take a moment to think about your relationship with your first love and then reflect on a more current, loving relationship. Hasn't the way you love changed along the way?  

An open heart can give and receive love without any limitations.

After we experience heartbreak, it is common to respond with fear and trepidation about loving again. However, as the pain heals, the heart regains its strength and opens once again. This cycle of heartbreak and healing continues until the heart opens completely and fearlessly. An open heart can give and receive love without any limitations. This phenomenon is a process of the subtle, energetic body as opposed to the physical one. 


An introduction to the heart chakra.

In my practice, I use the chakra system as a guide to explore the spiritual aspects of health. The chakras are like the organs of the subtle body (the energetic part of ourselves that can be felt but not seen). These energy centers follow a developmental path, beginning with the root chakra, the foundation for safety and survival. They continue through the sacral chakra, the epicenter of emotional well-being and feelings, and the solar plexus, which houses the belief systems that contribute to our sense of self-worth. It is not until the foundation of the lower three chakras is solid that we can truly experience self-love, an essential ingredient to an open heart.

The heart chakra develops between ages 21 and 28, when most of us are exploring romantic relationships. It is a time when we are forced to face the painful wound of rejection, which occurs when we courageously reveal our romantic feelings toward another and find that those feelings are not reciprocated.

If you want to open your heart chakra, loving others is not enough—you need to cultivate bold self-love, too.

Though there is a tendency to associate the heart with romantic relationships, the work of the heart chakra extends far beyond romance. If you want to open your heart chakra, loving others is not enough—you need to cultivate bold self-love, too. We are not dying of heartbreak because we do not know how to love one another. We are dying of heartbreak because we do not love ourselves!

Many of us are cloaked in too much armor to fully receive love from others. Until self-love has been generated and sustained, unconditional love cannot be shared or received. This is the work of the heart chakra.

If you suspect your heart chakra is blocked, try adding the following practices to your daily routine:

Physical: Pay attention to your posture.

Most of us are walking around like hunchbacks, unconsciously closing our hearts. Begin to become aware of your posture while sitting, standing, and walking. Straighten the spine, engage the core, open the front of your chest, and drop your shoulders. Check in frequently to make sure you don't lose it, and notice if you feel somewhat vulnerable in certain scenarios. 

For those who are a bit more physically adventurous, add a camel pose to your routine. Stand on your knees with your toes curled under and your knees hip-width apart. Place your hands on the back of your pelvis for support. Engage your core to support the low back. Drop the head back and open the chest, gently backbending and using your hands for support. Push your thighs and hips forward, and do not rotate your neck as you backbend as far as you comfortably can. If you are experienced and warmed up, you can drop your hands to the heels and deepen the backbend. It is not uncommon for fear to come up in this pose. Opening the heart chakra can be scary! 


Mental: Write yourself a love letter.

Spend some time writing to yourself. Tell yourself all the things you love about yourself. Write as if you are writing to the love of your life. Eventually, that is who you will become. 

Emotional: Try a metta meditation.

Close your eyes and visualize yourself sitting in front of you. Wish yourself the following:

May I feel safe.

May I be healthy.

May I be joyful.

May I know love.

Next, visualize someone in your life whom you love or appreciate. Wish them the same phrases of loving-kindness:

May he/she feel safe.

May he/she be healthy.

May he/she be joyful.

May he/she know love.

Next, visualize someone in your life whom you have conflict with or someone whom you find challenging. Wish them the same:

May he/she feel safe.

May he/she be healthy.

May he/she be joyful.

May he/she know love.

Sit in meditation for five minutes, bathing in the feelings you have generated for yourself and others.


Spiritual: Participate in a service or volunteer activity. 

Being of service is an opportunity to give unconditionally. Choose an activity that allows you to interact with others who may be suffering in ways that you are not. Being of service is a way to generate compassion and experience how your own compassion for others affects your sense of well-being.  

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