Opening your heart to love also opens your heart to hurt.
Love is openness. When you allow yourself to open, then love can flow unimpeded. When your heart is open, you can commune with your lover, or anyone else. You can open with them in oneness. Whether you are having sex or discussing politics, you can open and commune as one love expressing itself through two bodies.
When you are open and the other is not, you will feel it. When your lover lashes out at you with vicious criticism, your heart feels slashed and wounded.
Eventually, your heart closes in order to feel less vulnerable. Yet you still desire love. Behind your walls of protection, your yearning backs up into frustration and then anger. Filling with rage, you may finally strike out at your lover, trying to hurt the one who has hurt you. You both close even more. You want their love and they won’t give it to you, so you punish your lover for not loving you, and then he or she closes down more and punishes you back.
To break this cycle of closure, you can learn to practice love. You can practice remaining open even when your heart reflexively wants to close in order to guard itself from hurt. You can choose to feel the hurt and practice to stay open. Instead of closing in anger, allow yourself to feel your deep sorrow, your raw yearning, the wounding slashes of your lover’s anger, and practice opening. By staying open, the cycle is broken, and your love awaits your lover’s readiness to open.
In response to your lover’s hurtful words and actions, you can practice love. Instead of holding your breath, you can breathe deeply and fully. Instead of tensing your body, you can relax your belly while you breathe and feel deep hurt. Instead of turning away, you can look into your lover’s eyes while you feel their pain. You can serve your lover’s openness by offering yours.
Feel into your lover’s heart, beating yearningly, waiting for love behind their unloving guard. Rather than reacting to unlove by closing down, you can remain open and deeply connected, breathing and feeling the deep heart openness which hides behind the hurt of your lover.
You can practice this openness and deep heart-contact with everyone you love—in fact, with everyone. Whoever you are with, look into their eyes. Feel through their mask or social face, and feel into their heart’s desire; they want to open, to connect and feel deep love, just like you do.
With whomever you choose, feel through their layers of habitual guardedness, their muscular tension, their lonely closure and protection. Without actually touching them, you can allow your heart to feel theirs. Inhale and exhale love with them as if doing heart-to-heart resuscitation from a distance. All of this can take place in a fraction of a second, casually, even with a grocery store clerk who remains unaware of any practice on your part.
Life is a lesson of love. Your life feels full in every moment you stay open as love, however painful or joyous the love is. If you close, even for a moment, then you are creating unfulfillment in your heart and pain in the heart of those who would open in love with you.
For your life to feel profound and full of love’s power, practice opening at all times, including times of hurt. Feel and breathe your heart’s deep hurt, and the hurt of others, without closing. Offer the openness of your heart to everyone, and especially to those who are wounding you. The only alternative is to close and live unfulfilled.
David Deida, Naked Buddhism (Later released as Blue Truth)