by Alan McAllister, CCHt PhD-phys
When we find someone with whom our heart space opens up and we are filled with the most wonderful energy, we are “in love” and everything is great. It works even better when they love us back. But if they don’t return the feeling, or go away again after a while then we are plunged into a dark space, our heart shuts down again in pain and perhaps anger. We have opened ourselves up to them and if they don’t respond, or if their response fades in time, we feel that we have been judged, that something is wrong or lacking.
Have you ever stopped to think that what we experience when we are “in love” is something that we can experience by ourselves? The energy that we feel in our hearts is really a part of ourselves, a part of our spirit or soul, that we access when we are “in love”. The best aspects of love are the result of the opening of your own heart, not what someone else gives you (though that is nice too). In principle we have no real need of anyone else to open the doors of our heart, we are able to do it for ourselves at any time. And yet, we are generally programmed that we need someone else to give us permission, to open that heart space for us.
This heart space is also opened up when we experience the beauty of nature, or perhaps coming home to an old familiar place. On a more intense level it is the love of angelic beings, or Christ, Mary, Krishna, or the Buddha. It is a place inside, associated with the heart, or heart chakra (energy center), that opens up to our own full spiritual being, which is pure energy, love, non-judgement etc. It is a wonderful space.
It has been said that the spiritual path is not about experiencing spirit, as in finding something outside of us, or something that we are not, but in remembering what we already are, beautiful souls, fundamentally spiritual beings. As we learn to be consciously aware of our spiritual nature we learn to simply be “in love”, not with anyone or anything specifically (though that may be a great place to start), but with ourselves, life, God, to be in unity with all that is. Once we fully realize this, nothing can keep it from us, because it is our own essence.
If this is true, then why does it often seem so far away from us in daily life? Examining the process by which a spiritual being is born into a human body and learns to live in the manifest world we find a general answer that affects most of us, though in widely varying degrees.
Look into the eyes of an infant; they are still directly connected to spirit. When they are not distracted by various bodily matters they are naturally in that space of love. They have such an affect on us because for a little while we can match that love, remember that space. In spirit we are connected to ourselves and to everything/everyone else. As we grow older we begin to discover that in the manifest world there is separation, that people can not always be in that loving space, that there is invalidation and judgement. Even our parents at their best are not likely to be able to give us unconditional love all the time.
When others do not see us for who we are, cannot validate us, or throw their own anger, frustration, judgement, or control energy at us, we begin to feel we need to defend ourselves. Each of us has had our own unique process, the intensity of it varies widely, and much of it may now be lost in the mists of early memory, but most of us have had experiences of being blamed, made fun of, yelled at, controlled, etc. As small people who are just developing a sense of self we take that sort of thing personally, and we are pained by the emotions behind it, even if we “know” that its unjustified.
In order to protect that special place in our hearts we begin to build walls of some sort, perhaps using the same negative energy that we are trying to keep out. At first they may be just screens to deflect any incoming invalidation, but over time we add in the bricks and mortar. When we judge ourselves, accepting others pronouncements, we creat self-doubt, self-judgment and perhaps even decide that we are not really lovable after all, even to ourselves. Add in all of our self-judged “failures”, the death of a pet, the times when we unintentionally hurt someone, or failed to cheer them up, the project that comes out less than our imagination. This energy is the toughest, because it is ours. Now we are not inside the room protecting ourselves from things outside, but are also outside the heart space, facing a set of doors that have been shut and perhaps locked.
Now we may have trouble even loving ourselves, finding that space of peace and warmth that is who we are as souls. We look towards that space but we only see the pain, the hurt, the judgements, and we turn away. We may feel that we need someone else’s help, or we may be told that we do. If they will love us or validate us then we can find ourselves again. This is a change that most of us go through at some point. Metaphorically we give the keys to our heart space to someone else, to our parents, or even to God. If they will validate us or love us then we can open that space again and love ourselves.
We have in fact given away a great deal of our power, our seniority and certainty to the other person or persons, or even to an idea or ideal. The common link is that it is external. If something outside of us will only validate us, if we can “measure up” to the measure of our choosing, we will be deserving, successful, lovable. We have to earn back the keys which we have given away or handed over on demand. This is not the truth, even if it is the way most of us (to some extent) live our lives. The keys to your heart are yours and you can at any time, by exercising your seniority in your own space and being, reclaim them simply by doing so. No one can stop you if you are clear and firm.
Until you do this the terms of success are not yours, they are society’s, or your parent’s, or your partner’s. Often they may be fully, or practically, impossible for us to achieve, especially if they are not suited to who we are as souls. Then every step towards the external goal involves a denial of self, and feeds the picture that says we don’t count, we aren’t lovable. So we look for that exceptional person who can see something of who we are, who can validate us and lead us back to ourselves. A person who can open the doors of our heart, who we can trust with the keys. We fall in love, forget about “ourselves”, all of the judgements and pain of the ego-self, “lose ourselves” in the other, and find again love and peace.
This is wonderful, but we can also do this ourselves. It is the goal of many spiritual paths. If we lose “ourselves”, i.e. our limitations, our self doubt, our cares and responsibilities, we can open that heart space ourselves. In truth we do not need anyone else’s permission, if we have courage and certainty we can reclaim that space by simply remembering and being who we are as souls.
While finding ourselves is “simple”, it may not be easy. We start by realizing that “earning the right” to love ourselves, to be ourselves, is a very large lie. We can love ourselves any time, any place. God always does, why shouldn’t we? It is simply who we are. Of course if “you” have been covered up with many layers of ugly emotion or invalidation, it may be hard to find your true self…which is where healing and spiritual practices come in. We are also never “alone” in reaching out to spirit, to God. Grace and assistance is always there when we open to it, when we give up being “undeserving”.
It is possible to have “nothing”, be “nothing” and still have yourself and all the bliss and joy in the world. This is the experience of the realized masters. God does love us just as we are. But we don’t believe it. If my mother doesn’t love me, or my husband, etc., if I don’t love myself, then how could Creator? But it does. How could it not, for you are a part of it, and its nature is love.
So take back the keys to your heart space, to the connection to your own spiritual self. They are yours by divine right and no one, no thing can deny them to you. Open up your own heart, and bask in the love and joy that you find there, let it fill your being, flushing out all the invalidation, limitations, judgements, fear and pain that you have been holding onto. Then you can share that space with others and discover a whole new level of relationship, a new way of “being in love”.
Listen to it on the Recordings page.