Have you ever heard about opening your heart? Or closing your heart when your open heart feels too much emotion? Mindfulness teachers, and Mindful Self Compassion teachers talk in these terms, but it’s a little vague and abstract until you notice an upwelling of some rush of feeling and need to tame it, cool it down, or calm it down.
A perfect example of this practice happened recently.
One morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on my bed, I clicked on a video that a friend had posted that hinted at some sort of happiness or joy. I lucked out, having such a huge smile on my face for 4 minutes that the back of my ears hurt. It was truly wonderful watching this couple of complete strangers dancing at their wedding. The crowd was hooting and cheering, and I felt like I was celebrating too!
A few minutes of scrolling later, after clicking the like button on dog and baby photos, I noticed another video posted by the same friend, with some heartwarming words in the caption. I clicked on it and with in 90 seconds I had sadness welling up from my belly to my eyes. I felt pressure in my neck and ears, which is what happens when I bottle up tears.
I thought about it for a second…do I want to cry now? Do I want my mood to shift from the joy of just a few minutes ago to heartbreaking sorrow?
Even though the video was sure to be hopeful and joyous in a deep way, did I want to be there right now? It took a split second for me to close my heart. I stopped the video and physically changed my environment by stepping into the shower. It was time for a shower anyway, as I was getting ready to go to the airport to start an adventure.
I put the second video out of my mind by thinking of the first video again – it was that easy to change the channel.
There was another consideration in all this too…that of how my mood would affect my husband. Did I want to show up to him as an emotional mess right now, at the start of a vacation?
The answer was absolutely not!
And there is some discernment here that I want to tease out of the situation. The videos that were raising and lowering my mood were not personal to me. They were not my life, they did not involve people known to me, I did not need to take it in. If a friend or loved one was suffering, it wouldn’t be so easy to change the channel.
There is a lesson here that bears illuminating:
Often, we have a choice as to what information we allow into our eyes, ears and hearts.
Protect your heart this month, and every other month of the year. Choose wisely.