Did you know that having a broken heart can actually . . . well . . . break your heart?
There is a medically recognized condition called, “broken heart syndrome,” that can cause all of the symptoms of a heart attack and lead to hospitalization. Although it’s most commonly associated with middle aged women it can strike anyone and it’s brought on by intense grief such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or breaking up with a lover. One side of the heart actually enlarges for a period of time and fails to beat normally causing chest pains and shortness of breath.
The Three of Swords is a perfect illustration of that pain. Most of us have been there: being deeply, completely in love with someone who betrays our trust, or falls out of love with us, or, sometimes, dies. It literally feels as if we’ve been stabbed in the heart, wounded to our very core.
The question then becomes, how do we recover from that? Or do we? One strategy, of course, is to just swear off falling in love and vow that we’ll never be suckers like that again. Oh, sure, maybe we’ll have sex every once in a while – maybe a LOT – but we’ll never fall in love with or completely trust another human being again. Ever!
Probably not the best plan. In one of her always excellent podcasts called, “The Courage to Love,” Tara Brach asserts that moving away from love is actually moving away from the best and most authentic part of ourselves. Which is not hard to recognize when we stop and think about it. When do we feel best about ourselves? When we’re loving and kind. When do we feel best about the world? When we’re receiving love and kindness. It really IS hard wired into us: even a baby happily recognizes a smile and is frightened by a scowl.
As Brach points out, though, it can be difficult to remember that. We are right now JUST starting to evolve out of that fight, flight or freeze response that’s always lurking in our amygdalas. When someone shuts us down, when someone breaks our hearts, it feels like danger, like a terrible threat to our very being and we want to fight back against them, run away, or become emotionally frozen in place. (Never again! Ever!)
We do have a couple of assets that we’ve evolved into, though, that can help: consciousness and intentionality. We can consciously recognize our emotions and just sit with them. “Okay, I hurt like hell. I feel betrayed. I feel like I can’t trust anyone.” And that’s okay.
And we can intentionally move toward love. “Okay, I really hurt but I recognize that I’m a loving, caring person and I’m not going to let someone else remove love from my heart. I claim my autonomy and I choose love.”
We can also remember that the Heart Chakra just feels love and it doesn’t discriminate about where it’s coming from. It’s wonderful to receive love from another human being but it’s not the only source.
When we’re broken hearted we can bring in a lot of self-love. We can write out affirmations about what good, loving and deserving people we are. We can visualize ourselves bathed in love and compassion and we can be especially nourishing and kind to ourselves.
Divine love can be another source for many people. In Red Tara practice meditators will visualize Tara hovering before them, sending golden beams of love into their bodies and hearts. We can do the same practice and replace Tara with the deity, spirit guide, or angel of our choice.
And, of course, we can just love. Love generates love. The more we act with loving kindness and compassion toward our fellow travelers on the earth plane, the more the heart chakra opens and heals. The more it opens, the more love we attract and receive.
“Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.” – The Desiderata