Monday, December 10, 2007

Open Heart

Over the weekend, Mike (my partner) and I went to see Lars and the Real Girl. It's listed as a comedy, and it is. Yet, I cried buckets at this bittersweet tale.

I won't give anything away regarding the movie, but going in you already know (or will find out within the first 5 minutes) that the story is about this fellow Lars who orders a human sized doll to be his girlfriend. He's not trying to be funny. She is very real to him. That's all I'll say about the movie's plot, other than that it's definitely worth seeing.

As most original movies do, this story triggered some interesting conversation on the drive home. Mike wondered aloud, "How many folks are like Lars? How many people are that socially withdrawn?"

"I imagine there's a lot more than we might think." I responded. "Not necessarily to the degree that Lars is. I mean everyone doesn't run around ordering dolls to be their friend and think they're real. But on some level I think most of us can relate to Lars in some way."

As we talked further, I was reminded of Yoga Teacher Training with Todd Norian a couple of years ago. There were almost 40 strangers in that space. We came together for three 9 day periods to learn, experience, and share. We ate together, studied together, practiced together, chanted together, and even shared rooms. With Todd's loving guidance and the 9 days of being on top of a mountain with nowhere else to go--and minimal cell phone accessibility--we grew very close. Masks came off and hearts were opened. On the final day, there was not a dry eye in the place. I felt connected and in love with each and every one of these souls. It was an amazing experience.

Just yesterday I was reading in IAYT Yoga Therapy in Practice an article Lynnet Tirabassi called Yoga of the Heart. The piece was about her training with Nischala Joy Devi for using Yoga to help Cardiac and Cancer patients. Aside from being a great synopsis and inspiring me to seek out more about Devi's work, Lynnet talked about the closeness that grew between the 35 participants. On their final day of the workshop, they chanted, "All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you." She says that by the end "all heart lights were radiating."

Why is this so unusual? Why don't we connect like this on a daily basis with everyone we meet?

Is it human nature to protect ourselves--physically and emotionally? Is it that protective shield we carry that prevents us from knowing and sharing our heart, our spirit, and our soul?

Perhaps a soul mate is someone that helps you to put down that shield and allows you to experience that beauty that you already are.

Meditate on the heart for the next week and see if you feel, think, and act a little more compassionately and lovingly to yourself and those around you. Next week or next month (after really focusing on my heart center), I'll post or leave a comment regarding my experience, and would love to hear about your experiences as well!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!


Laura said...

Thank you for the lovely post! I have actually studied compassion for quite some time in myself because I was anything but compassionate with my daughter (who was 2 1/2 years) when my son was born four years ago. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Here I had two beautiful children and most of the time all I could get out was irritation! And yet, sometimes I was still capable of extraordinary bouts of compassion. People told me it was fatigue and moodiness was to be expected, but, frankly, that wasn't good enough for me. I wanted to see much more of my compassionate nature (which is what we naturally are deep down) even when I was exhausted. Maybe even especially when I was exhausted.

So, I began to study myself and I realized that I had a balance inside of me between positive and negative. When I was tipped to the positive, "good" came out of me. When I was tipped to the negative, "not so good" came out of me. I then realized that I could feed either the positive or the negative with what I filled myself with -- media, words I used, friends, even food affected which side of the scale I tipped to. The more good I consciously fed myself, the more good came out.

I then used what I learned to create a program for teaching others. If you are interested, check it out. It is called A Year of Living Compassionately ( and I am rerunning the program in its entirety beginning in January. It is an amazing experience of learning how to be more conscious in the world.

Thanks for the reminder!

Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

Laura, I commend your determination to not "settle" for irritation as part of the package of being a parent with young children. To set a goal of living compassionately even with exhausted is brave. I love what you say about what you put in is what came out. How very true! It would be interesting to hear more about how the food you eat impacted your "tipping of the scale."

Laura said...

I think the food was the most dramatic “ah-hah” for me in this process. (Or maybe it was the media...or the interactions with people...or certain words...or my own fears and unmet needs...okay, a lot of “ah-hahs” for this little yogini!) I already had a fairly limited diet. I am vegetarian by choice and was also not eating dairy or soy due to my nursing son’s food sensitivities. So, I was a bit surprised there was more for me in this category. (Interesting, isn't it, how often we feel we are "done" in a certain area only to find that there is more to learn!) I noticed that I easily “lost it” when I ate pasta (as did my daughter — not a good mix when both parent and child are not balanced!) I also noticed being dehydrated affected me quite strongly. I also knew that being hungry did, too, but my additional lesson was I actually had problems before I felt hungry in the morning. I needed to be sure I ate a protein rich snack mid-morning regardless of hunger. Really a fascinating study for me!