Last week, the five of us met in the Barn. All women, all relieved and thankful to be there, to be with one another, opening up our hearts, meditating together, laughing, shedding a few tears and sharing food. The interior of the Barn was flooded with golden sunshine, filtering through the grape vines festooning the balcony and glittering on the wet leaves of the apple trees and sodden grasses in the orchard beyond. We all value this group so much as a space in which – yes, to practise together, to explore ideas – but more than anything it’s about the strength of our connections to one another. Our heart connections. Forged through 5 years of coming together to meet every month. We spoke about how we hardly know who or what our real selves are. How when we look deeper into our hearts the spaciousness grows, a warm emptiness. But the one thing we agreed on is that these connections with the ones we love (and even the ones we hate) are the strongest, most vivid thing. That is real.
This morning, on my day off, I set aside one and a half hours to practise yoga. It was a heart-opening class (Eckhart Yoga) and it felt amazing to expand my chest through back-bends and other poses, as if I were setting my heart free.
It’s at times like these – whether meeting my dharma friends or practising yoga or loving kindness meditations – that it all can suddenly seem so simple. Just open the heart. Open up. As wide as you can. Be vulnerable, be sensitive and quivering – it’s all ok. I wish I could do that always. That’s what I’m working towards. But right now I’m tired, the wind’s blowing hard outside and I’m scared of what the future might bring.
Like mindfulness, opening the heart is a moment to moment practice, never over and done with once and for all. Like doing the laundry!