by Jonathan Robinson
Everyone wants to live with an open heart, but few people talk about exactly how to do that amidst the hustle and bustle of modern-day life. It seems like we are continuously being bombarded with people and information that would make us want to close down our hearts. However, living with a closed heart feels deadening and empty. So, in my opinion, the trick is to find simple and quick ways to open our hearts when it is safe to do so.
If, like turning a light switch, you could open your heart fully in just a few seconds, it would make your days more fulfilling and your relationships more loving. Alas, I have studied how I and others have managed to do this. In my interviews with everyone from the late Mother Teresa, Wayne Dyer, and Ram Dass, to Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama, I have asked 100 teachers how they keep their hearts open. In my book, The Enlightenment Project, I describe in detail many of their answers.
In order for you to further your heart opening “project,” in the following article I have compiled a brief list of 10 of my favorite effective and fast ways to open my own heart. Feel free to try them out and see which ones work well for you. Or, if you prefer, experiment on yourself and create your own tailor-made heart opening practices.
1. Think of Special Moments with Loved Ones We’ve all had special moments where we felt deeply connected with another person, pet, or young child. Remembering such moments and the feelings of care you had at such times is an easy way to tap into the love in your heart. To turbo charge such memories, you might imagine hugging or holding the being you love in a way that helps you to feel even more connected.
2. Put Heart Opening Pictures on Your Phone If you’re not very good at visualizing those you have loved, put some memorable pictures and moments right on your smartphone. On my phone, I have a photo album of various people and pets I have loved over the years. Typically, I spend about 10 seconds on 5 different pictures--silently remembering what I love about them. By doing this, in under a minute I can dive into a deeply loving feeling.
3. Pray or Invoke an Open Heart Prayer has been around for thousands of years for a simple reason: for many people, it really works. Praying to God or a spiritual avatar for an open heart can quickly lead to magical results for many people. Even if you don’t believe that another being or energy can help you to open your heart, just making the clear intention that an open heart is your goal can be very powerful.
4. Visualize Love Radiating from Your Heart In many Middle-ages paintings, Mother Mary or Jesus are pictured with what looks like beams of light radiating from the center of their chests. This gave me the idea to try a similar visualization on myself. Indeed, when I have pictured beams of energy radiating from my heart, I often tap into an exquisite feeling of love and expansion. Try if for yourself and see if you can tune into a similar result.
5. Imagine Sinking Into a Warm Bath of Love I love taking baths. The initial feeling of sinking into a warm bath is a great pleasure. What can make such a memory even more enticing is imagining that you can relax into a warm bath filled with loving, soothing energy. In a certain way, we ARE surrounded by air, water, and a host of unseen energies that support our being alive and well. Therefore, imagining you are in a bathtub filled with love is really just opening to what is true (but usually unrecognized) in this moment.
6. Sing a Heart Opening Song to Yourself Do you have songs that, when you hear them, always put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart? If so, use such treasures to stimulate your heart on a daily basis. I use a variety of songs. Being that I’m a Baby Boomer, I will sometimes sing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles, or “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find three to five songs that quickly uplift your heart. Just listening to or even humming one of your chosen songs during your busy day can make a big difference.
7. Smile with your Eyes, Mouth, and Heart In the practice known as Qi Gong, people are often taught to do what is called, “The Inner Smile” meditation. This consists of imagining “smiling energy” moving from your mouth down to your heart. I have found it even more helpful to imagine smiling within my closed eyes, then having the energy move down to my mouth, and finally ending up with a smiling heart. A smiling heart feels light and buoyant, and with practice, can be tuned into at any time.
8. Imagine Breathing Love In and Out of Your Heart As a form of meditation, many people focus on their breath. While this can be a good way to quiet the mind, adding the element of imagining breathing love in and out of the heart area can add a new element to breath meditation. Many people report that focusing on breathing in and out of the heart helps them to feel more centered, kind, and compassionate. Try it for yourself and see if this works for you.
9. Pretend You’re a Saint Bestowing Love on Others Many years ago, I dressed up and pretended to be Saint Francis at a Halloween party. To my surprise, as the evening wore on, I started to actually feel incredibly loving. Since then, on occasion I have secretly pretended to be Saint Francis while interacting with friends. The results have often been quite ecstatic. Of course, you can choose to pretend to be any person—living or dead—that you greatly admire. As you act as if you were that person, you may be surprised to find you start to feel and behave as you imagine they would feel and behave. It can be a lot of fun and quite transformational.
10. Look to Serve Anyone with an Act of Kindness According to studies, the quickest way to boost your own level of happiness is to do an act of kindness for a stranger or a friend. By serving others, you get a boost of compassion and love in your own heart. It’s a win-win, and available as easy as saying a nice complement to whoever you interact with.
By trying out each of these ten quick heart openers, you may find a couple that work surprisingly well for you. Once you have an easy and quick way to consistently open to love, you have a true inner friend that is with you wherever you go.