When we feel pain around our heart center, we often want to get rid of it because it can feel excruciating and may prevent us from effectively continuing with various aspects of our life.
However, what we call “heartbreak” is simply a feeling that alerts us that something within our life has altered. It signifies transition, letting go, and the need to surrender, release, and move forward.
What actually causes pain is not purely the fact that someone has left, along with the memories of the past, but also our inability to accept that person’s physical presence will no longer be around us in the future.
When we subconsciously project our minds forward and believe we may not see a particular person again, tension and possibly trauma arise throughout the body and rests around the heart center.
If we are not aware that this energy, that can be a mixture of abandonment, fear, anger, frustration, rejection, and longing, has temporarily taken residence in our chest, it will become stagnant and cause aches and pains to manifest.
Becoming aware of this energy is often all it takes to start the energy flowing again, thus providing some relief from the discomfort that feels like heartache.
Although we consider heartache to be unpleasant, when we embrace it, we will discover that it holds beauty within it.
Heartache usually arises when we feel empty after we have said goodbye to something that was an important part of our lives. To turn the emotions around, we can express gratitude for what we have experienced rather than disappointment for what has passed.
It is not always easy to connect with gratitude and to embody it when we feel that something or someone we loved has been taken away from us.
However, when we perceive ourselves as fortunate to have connected with someone who enriched our lives in some way, and that we are thankful that we shared part of our journey together, fear lessens and the heart reopens, allowing for the opportunity to experience deeper levels of affection and love in the present and future.
Even if the relationship was one that was negative and destructive, we can still have gratitude for what we learned from it, and also that we are now free from that dynamic and are taking steps toward harmony and happiness.
Practicing forgiveness, both for ourselves and the other person, along with gratitude, allows us to surrender to our circumstances, to accept what has occurred, and to release the pain and resentment that arose either during the relationship or when it ended.
When we intentionally forgive someone, we release an immense amount of pent up emotion. If we hold on to grievances, we risk repeating similar situations in the future. When we are carrying negative emotions, we subconsciously attract external dynamics that match how we feel internally. This works both ways; so when we feel positive, hopeful, and filled with love and joy, we are far more likely to attract reflections of those essences too.
Being present with our pain does not mean that all of our emotions will diminish and we will gain immediate fulfillment and peace. Often the acknowledgement of our pain causes it to temporarily intensify before it dissipates, which is one of the reasons that so many people avoid looking at what has caused hurtful feelings.
The key to healing is to witness the experience without becoming overly obsessed with asking what if, when, why, and what’s next.
It can be tempting to search for all the answers to what went wrong and what we could have done different, but those answers will reveal themselves through time—and it is extremely difficult to see our situations with clarity when we are overwhelmed with emotion.
Our heartache results from a desperate desire to alter something that cannot be changed. Regardless of whether we resurrected the relationship or not, we cannot possibly recreate the exact experiences that we once had. Nothing remains the same.
Therefore, it is essential to remove the need to control every aspect of our own life or other people’s lives, if we want to live free from suffering. Nothing remains the same, and although this can be a difficult concept to accept at times, it is one that teaches us to let go of the attachments we place on people or the situations in our lives. When we let go of our grip on the past and put all of our motivation and effort into creating a peaceful present, we create for ourselves a more harmonious, peaceful future.
In the moment of heartbreak, the most healing thing we can do for ourselves is to hold space for our pain, and to allow it to surge through our bodies so that it does not become trapped and hidden beneath past layers of hurt and pain.
To hold a loving, safe space for heartache, we can practice a simple meditation, as often as we feel necessary, until we notice the friction and pain surrounding our heart has lifted.
Before we begin meditating, we can concentrate on creating waves of love, acceptance, and forgiveness, both for ourselves and other people.
When we radiate loving energy, we will start to feel a similar warm, loving energy rebounding back toward us. Rather than imagining our heart as being broken, we can visualize it as being open and able to receive powerful, loving, healing light.
Sit crossed-legged, or whichever way feels comfortable, preferably with a straight spine and head slightly lowered.
Place the hands in front of the chest, palms lightly together, and thumbs and little fingers touching one another. The middle finger will be in line with the third eye.
With deep breathing, the mind will calm and eventually slow down, therefore the reoccurring thoughts should also settle.
Inhale deeply through the nose, feeling the belly area expand, and then hold for approximately five seconds. On the inhale notice the chest expanding slightly. This allows the heart chakra to open up. While we are pausing, the energy stored in our lungs starts to rejuvenate and recharge our circulatory system.
We can then exhale slowly through the mouth before pausing for a few seconds and then repeating the breathing exercise.
Deep breathing allows the flow of energy (prana) to move around the body and helps relieve any tension surrounding the heart area.
While continuing to deeply inhale and exhale, allow all thoughts in the mind to continue floating around for a few moments. Then notice which thought is repeating continuously. Focus all the attention very briefly on this thought.
For just a few moments, acknowledge how the thought makes you feel and then envisage gently blowing it away. Continue this process with the other thoughts niggling away at the mind. Allow each of them a few moments, and then release them by taking focused attention away from them.
Visualize a scene that feels healing and serene. If being beside the sea brings peace, clarity, and calmness, visualize sitting and watching the waves come and go while repeating, “I feel blissful and at peace.” Or envisage a huge glowing heart radiating with love and repeat the words, “I radiate gratitude and forgiveness,” or, “I feel love.”
Meditation is about remaining as much in the present moment as possible. When we are fully present, there is very little suffering felt. Whenever we feel our minds casting back or projecting forward, it is important to gently bring them back to the here and now.
As we continue meditating, we will begin to release anxiety and the painful emotions that are accompanying our thoughts.
We can meditate for just a few minutes or longer depending on how we feel. The more regularly we meditate, the more effective the practice will be.
Once we have completed the meditation, we can transfer this new empowering thinking into our daily lives by remembering that our thoughts can become repetitive. The more we think something, the more natural it is for that thought to linger. It is not only the thought that lingers but the emotions that attach to those thoughts will also stay around.
When we think positive thoughts, we set off our emotions and we can feel good feelings. The opposite is also true. We have the decision to change how we feel simply by remaining aware of our thoughts.
Meditation can be a tool for working through the emotions that heartache conjures up. It won’t wipe out all current pain and past memories instantly, however, it encourages us to look at the pain, acknowledge it, feel it, and then process it.
It also encourages us to exist in the present moment rather than clinging to past memories, or projecting our thoughts into the future.
Our most powerful enemy when our heart aches is our thoughts. The mind not only plays tricks and holds up illusions, but it also easily falls into a routine of ruminating and obsessing over the same things that keep painful past experiences fresh and raw in our mind.
We have the ability to take control of our thoughts instead of being controlled by them.
We can heal our heart simply by letting go of the weight that we have been carrying around with us. We are then free to live the life that feels right for us today, rather than being tied to a past that is draining us.
“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Writing: Alex Myles
Image Unsplash Riccardo Mion