Imagine that you had gone all your life without ever washing, and then one day you decide to take a shower. You start scrubbing away, but then watch in horror as the dirt begins to ooze out of the pores of your skin and stream down your body. Something must be wrong: You were supposed to be getting cleaner and all you can see is grime. You panic and fling yourself out of the shower, convinced that you should never have begun. But you only end up even more dirty than before. You have no way of knowing that the wisest thing to do is to be patient and to finish the shower. It may look for a while as if you are getting even dirtier, but if you keep on washing, you will emerge fresh and clean. It’s all a process, the process of purification.
– Sogyal Rinpoche (Glimpse of the Day)
I am on day 20 of a 40 day heart opening practice. My commitment is two-fold:
- Do a daily heart-based kriya or yoga sequence
- Deal honestly with what comes up
Why 40 days, and why make a commitment in the first place?
I have done 40 day practices before (40 days of yoga and 40 days of meditation) and I find that 40 days is long enough to break through the resistance and really have a practice settle deep within. Big changes can happen in 40 days, long lasting, life altering changes. I make a commitment to myself and I share that commitment to strengthen my resolve, because I know for sure that I will meet serious resistance along the way and want to give up. For all kinds of reasons. A commitment means that I can hear my mind telling me that it’s too hard, or too easy, that it’s not working or it’s working too fast or that I don’t need to do it anymore, that my work is done…and then I get up and do the practice anyway, because who the hell cares what my mind thinks?
What would it know, when it got me into this trouble in the first place?
Check out here what happened over the first 8 days. Warning: it ain’t pretty :)
Days 9 and 10: I still feel fragile after the tumultuous first week of my practice, but the insight I received on day 8 has slowly been settling deep within, the truth percolating and simmering. Most of my anger, rage, judgment and irritation have vanished, leaving me with the feeling of being in the aftermath of a storm: relief that the storm has blown over but looking at the wreckage and wondering where to start. Cyclone kriya. There is the matter of the Bear: not only has he copped some of my toxic overload, but he has had a terrible week in his own life and is not disposed to look kindly upon me:
Look, to be honest, I really needed you this week and you weren’t there for me. It’s going to take me a while to get over that.
Sigh. Later on, I tell him about my new insights into my anger and where it’s coming from. He nods and says:
“Guess who cops the anger that you can’t suppress and you can’t express?
An image comes to me of the Bear just taking all of my shit, absorbing body blow after body blow. I realise with a sinking heart how my unconscious behaviour has affected him and the pain of that realisation is almost too much to bear. I sit with the pain for a while.
Day 11: The next day, I take a moment alone with the Bear and acknowledge the truth of what he said. I tell him that while I can’t promise it will never happen again, I know it now, I’m aware and I’m working on it.
Things get better between us very fast after that :)
Day 12: I wake up feeling so blissed out, it’s like I’m stoned, but a million times better :) My heart feels so different. Normally I can visualise my heart centre as being a smallish circle in the middle of my chest – now it feels as wide as my collar bones, vast and deep. Today I have an appointment with an aura photographer of all things – a friend of mine is hosting an event at her house, and I made the appointment a couple of weeks ago. It’s kinda tricky to fit in, but everything falls into place and I arrive on time. The photo itself takes 10 seconds, and then Emma, the beautiful photographer, sits down with me to talk about what it all means.
She looks at me for a moment and asks me how I’m feeling. I tell her I’m feeling fine. I then tell her about the heart practice I’ve been doing, and she unwraps the photo from its packaging, saying “Well, that explains your photo then.”
The colour above my head tells me what I am experiencing right now. As you can see, it’s green, the colour of the heart chakra. The blue and purple to my right is is my outgoing energy and signifies an internal spiritual journey. The green on my left side is where I am moving to, signifying change and new growth. Emma’s prediction is that the spiritual work I am doing now will have a physical effect on my life, bringing in change and new growth. Can you see the orbs above my head? They are my spirit guides, and they’re heavily supporting the work I’m doing. And can you see the green over my heart? That’s my newly opened heart centre :) Emma can’t believe it – she has been taking aura photos for years, and has rarely seen such a clear, heart-centered photo before.
This is a great gift for me, and helps to validate the journey I’m on. Sometimes you know, spiritual work is invisible work. Not this time.
Even more interestingly, I go home and dig up the aura photo I had taken at the end of 2012:
Wow, how’s the difference? The first thing that struck me was how cloudy my aura is: I’m not even visible. This indicates I’ve got a lot of stuff that I’m not letting go of. And look at all that red, close into my body! Yes, all that red, magenta and gold are signs of a person who knows how to make things happen, but I see a lot of anger there, and I can’t let it go. Understanding myself and where I was back then, I was very frustrated and I felt locked into a situation with no escape. I was trying to make the best of it, but it was very difficult. Compare it to the top photo, where I’ve just let it all go. All of it. It’s just me and my heart :)
Days 13-16: Things are settling down, and peace is becoming the normal state for me. I am noticing differences within myself, like how open hearted I feel in my relationship with the Bear. I just want to hug him all day long, and press my heart against his. Finally, I feel like that soft woman he always wanted. It feels wonderful to be so receptive and open – I wonder how long it will last for? Will I allow the pain of the world to shut me down again? I hope not.
Days 17-20: I am paying more attention to the physical side of the heart sequence now that the emotional side has died down. I had started off doing each arm movement for 1 minute, increasing to 1 minute and 20 seconds in the 2nd week, and then upping it again to 1 minute 40 seconds in the third week. It’s challenging, but I’m pushing myself to see what I can do. On day 17, my arms and shoulders feel weak and achy – I decide to go a bit easier on myself and drop back to 1 minute. I don’t want to injure myself less than half way through the process.
Who knows what I could miss out on?
For those of you who are interested in embarking on your own adventure of the heart, you can pop over to the Yoga Lunchbox and download a copy of the heart kriya for only $4.99 (which also gets you a whole month’s membership!)