What do I mean by an "open heart"? It is what I like to consider the spiritual strength core of our natural being, the place from which we sometimes relate to the world around us when our life is most effective, most joyful and most grounded. It is the place from which we have the most to offer the world.
The real power of an "open heart", I believe, is that a "closed heart" cannot stay closed in its presence. In the company of a person with a truly "open heart" a person whose heart has closed will either open their heart or they will go away until they are ready to soften and open their heart.
What do I mean by "backbone"? It is the willingness and the ability to stand up for oneself in a way that is not insensitive or uncaring of others. It is never pushy and it never attacks. It functions out of love rather than out of fear. Backbone has spriritual strength but it is not rigid. It can act decisively or have great patience and flexibility. It is real integrity. The main point I want to make here is that an "open heart" is not weak. Rather it is incredibly strong, even powerful. But it is not power over others. It is a centeredness, a groundedness, a sense of balance and clarity of purpose.
An "open heart" is more fully present in moments of now. It tends not to get caught up fretting, worrying or being anxious or depressed about moments past or about those yet to come. An "open heart" is defenseless and yet is infinitely safe. It is only our ego that requires protecting or defending. It is only our ego that fears truth. An "open heart", has wisdom beyond its apparent years. It is also the source of our natural creativity, our spiritual strength as well as our gentleness. It is the root of our compassion and our ability and inclination to forgive as well as our ability to set appropriate and necessary limits. One valuable outcome of paying attention to "open heart" and "backbone" is that something quite wonderful happens in those moments when we recognize that each and every one of us has access to a place deep inside us. It is there in that place deep inside that we connect with a greater love, a greater wisdom; a love and a wisdom much greater than ourselves.
One might say that the trick to living well is to recognize the difference in the quality of our life when we are living it from an "open heartedness" as compared to when we are not. We need to recognize when we are off center, out of balance and when our heart has closed. We then need to discover what works for each of us to get back to the place where once again we have "open heart" and "backbone".
I find it very helpful to have lots of patience and compassion for myself when I notice I'm off center, once again. This is about turning up our awareness of what works and what gets in the way and then doing the best we can. Remember, there is nothing wrong with who you are at the core of your being. It is just that the more you are able to live your life with an "open heart" and "backbone" the better your life will work.
For now and always, Open your heart and "let go".
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by Frank Robinson
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