It’s easy to be loving and compassionate when life is breezy, but how the heck do we open our hearts when it all hits the fan? Grazie mille to all those who joined our free Zoom heart-opening workshop hosted by our J.J. Martin and our New York moderator and megababe Abby Raphel. Missed it or know of someone who might benefit from your community? Scroll down to watch the recap, which includes a guided visualisation and a love-receiving meditation led by J.J.  


Tell us about the heart, J.J.

J.J.: Your heart is so much more than “I’m so into that guy or job”. There is power in this energy and emotion of love. In my own spiritual practice what I have realised is the heart is this huge energetic portal that can open the doorway for you to reach other forms and dimensions of consciousness. It is important to remember that the heart is almost always in conflict with the ego and the thinking mind. We are so concerned with what we think we need, when really the wisdom of ourselves really resides in this heart chakra, in this heart energetic. 


OK, we’re listening. What’s the point of all this? 

J.J.: What we’re trying to do is to find the power and the knowledge of the heart. Oftentimes this is clouded over. A lot of us feel too many feelings, or some of us don’t feel enough feelings. This is about coming into balance and alignment of that. We sometimes think that love is something that happens to us. In reality, that feeling of love is something you can generate within yourself, actively, consciously and then use it to heal yourself and spread to others. We’ve all seen you can change someone’s life with that gesture, that hand on someone, that reassurance. You can change your own life with that, too.  Love is the weapon we have, and the protection we have. 


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Why is pain necessary? How does it help us to love and activate the heart?  

J.J.: In order to get full use of the heart you have to learn to see the truth about your suffering – what grieves you, what has hurt you, what has traumatised you – and really get that out. We need to stand up with our hearts open towards the pain and towards the fear. It’s easy to open your heart when you are having a great time and everything is going your way. It’s difficult to open your heart when nothing is going right, and that’s actually the moment you have to open it. 


So when you feel badly, just remember you are an intelligent being. You are not feeling bad randomly. You feel bad because something is off. It’s your job to figure out what in the heck needs to change in your life. All of us have a soul’s journey and yours is different to mine. I’m going to get a baggage of crap that is different from your baggage of crap. Each of us has a duty to open our bag, pull out the crap and start looking at it. Put it in the ground, let new gardens grow with it. It’s a huge opportunity for growth.  If you don’t see what the lesson is, ask. Before you go to bed at night close your eyes and say, “show me”. Open your heart to the hardship.


Can’t I just go for a run?

J.J.: There are two ways people deal with pain: aggression, and walking away. I was a huge numb-er. Some people run, other people sit on the couch all day or live in chaos. It’s numbing, because you are so distracted you don’t know how you are feeling. A numb-er should try a daily five minute check-in with the body. You can do it sitting on the toilet if you don’t have time. Breathe, and understand where in your body you are feeling tightness, stress, pain – by doing this you are bringing awareness to your body, and away from your brain. You can do breathing exercises, Yin yoga – anything that helps you get into that feeling state. 

“That feeling of love is something you can generate within yourself. We’ve all seen you can change someone’s life with that gesture, that hand on someone, that reassurance. You can change your own life with that, too.”

What about heart-break? How can you open your heart when you feel like it is breaking over and over?

J.J.: Break it, break it, break it. You know why? The more you break it, the bigger you can make it. And the more light you can ask for every time. Consciously. Have the faith that you can get through it and you will. And then you become a freaking guru. A lot of this is about you empowering you. It is exhausting. The reason it is exhausting is we are not accustomed to using that part of your body, we are trained to use our minds. The heart can get very overwhelming, but it’s a muscle, so you have to train it. 


What if we are burnt out looking after others? Who will love us? 

J.J.: Thank yourself for that, recognise you are doing it, even keep a list of the nice compliments people have given you to remind yourself of what a goddess you are. Don’t wait for someone to love you – you have the power to love yourself. Practice meditations where you receive love. Once you do that, you will have love bugs all over you. 


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OK, how do we bring this in on the everyday? 

J.J.: For me, a daily gratitude list is so key. Find wonder in the smallest things to retrain your mind: the tulips on your dining room table; human kindness. You also need your I-kicked-ass-today list. A lot of this you have to test it out. Do your five minute body check-in. Try a meditation where you close your eyes and recall a favorite memory, allowing the emotions of that memory to flood your body. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself, truthfully. Just remember this is a process and it’s not easy. That’s why it’s great to have a community about it and share it. It’s all about you understanding yourself more and developing the best, truest, most loving relationship with yourself. It sounds corny but it’s fundamental. 


A huge grazie mille to Abby Raphel for facilitating this event for us. To find out more about Abby’s own workshops and events, including her butt-kicking Blank Canvas workshop on personal growth, do have a look at her website here.