“I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)” E.E. Cummings
I love these words from Cummings as Valentines Day can get lost in all the romantic commercialism. I look at Valentines as a time of getting out of our head, busy schedules, daily activities and focus on our heart. Here in the Anahata Chakra where we often guard and protect our feelings.
It is here in our heart that as humans, life is worth living, being. It is for love that we hope and although there are other emotions, we focus here.
I was recently asked tips about teaching yoga to a mixed group of parents and kids. I gave my suggestions and interesting enough in my fondest memories I remember watching a Mother take her child into her arms and just hold her, while others were in bridge posture. This Mother saw that her little girl was bored and the Mother stopped her practice and held her daughter tight. I remember watching this act of love and even felt I had experienced a small part of it just by watching it. Yoga doesn’t have to be a posture. Maybe it is holding a loved one tight and both of you breathing together.
I believe deeply in the power of touch and what it can do. Done appropriately, it has the power to heal and let out emotions. I recently watched the movie “Captain Phillips” and the end with Tom Hanks was amazing. It stars a real life rescue nurse and if you study the effects of human anatomy, as I do, you see what happens when she asks him to breathe, touches his chest (heart) and then lifts one arm up above his head. It is here that he opens up his emotions, starts to heal and come out of shock. Yet it doesn’t surprise me. We still have ways to go at understanding the power of breath and touch.
Additionally I have seen the power of love and touch when I take my dog, Sadie, to see my Mom in her assisted living center. So many therapy dogs bring smiles to the faces there. We walk down the hall with Sadie and so many faces light up and we just allow them a moment to pet her and I see how happy they are from that. After all many there in these homes probably receive medical nurses touching them but aren’t the ones reaching out to touch others; which is why therapy animals help so much.
Additionally to kind love, we carry those that have hurt us in our hearts too. We talk about being stabbed in the back but that is really the effect of descibing the heart. Often times we can go a long time, locking up our feelings and storing them, not even aware that we are carrying that baggage with us.
Love sometimes means having enough love for yourself to step away from those that are hurting you. This may mean those that society dictates you should always honor; family, mentors, teachers. It certainly won’t be easy following your own path, but you don’t have to delete them from your thoughts forever. You carry them in your heart. I think about those who hurt me and offer them my forgiveness for not knowing better, for not thinking that there was another way and I hope that they find peace. I learned so much from their lessons, although they hurt, that I thank them from afar for this development in who I am today.
Therefore instead of spending this day wishing you had a romantic love or telling people “Happy Valentines Day”, consider with honoring yourself. Take your hand to your own heart and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out. Start by witnessing the pauses between the inhale and exhale. After a few minutes slowly open your eyes. Now to the first person you see, ask them what they did today that made them feel appreciated. Love them by listening to their story; not offering a quick response, joke or comment. Just listen.