The heart is arguably the most powerful organ in the body - it emanates thousands of times more electricity and magnetism than the brain does. Perhaps you've experienced the pain of heartbreak and the associated loss of vitality and joy which accompanies that. Most of us know first-hand that when the heart ain't happy, ain't much else happy either!
Do you struggle with truly receiving love into your heart? Do you feel as though your heart is over-protected? Does your heart space feel expansive or constricted? Do you have trouble truly embodying the emotions of love, compassion, forgiveness and understanding?
Let your heart be light
Ancient Egyptian lore holds that when one died, their heart would be weighed on a scale against a feather. Those with light hearts could proceed to the afterlife, while those with heavy hearts weren't as fortunate. What causes a heavy heart? Regret, hate, anger, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, indifference, judgement. These are also contributing factors to heart chakra energy blockages which in turn can manifest physically in respiratory, circulatory and immunity challenges. Tending to the heart on a regular basis is a great way to make sure we remain healthy, balanced, content, radiant and light.
Psychology and Physiology of the Heart Chakra
The heart - anahata in Sanskrit, translates to 'unstuck,' 'unhurt,' or 'unbeaten.' This chakra is located in the chest/heart space, represented by the color green, the element of air and is associated with the thymus gland, lungs and heart. When in balance, we experience a blissful feeling of being deeply connected to everyone and everything, we are compassionate, loving, peaceful, empathetic and have a strong immune system.
The heart is the middle chakra, uniting the lower three physical chakras with the upper three spiritual chakras, which means that anytime one or more of these seven main energy centers, or chakras, is lost, broken or deficient - an imbalance also shows up in the heart. The heart rules feelings of love, hope and compassion and is responsible for the overall level of integration we feel within our body.
When deficient, we may become withdrawn, hateful or antisocial, judgmental, narcissistic, have an inability to forgive or feel closed off from the rest of the world. When overactive, we become jealous, codependent, overly sacrificing and perfectionistic.
This center is damaged by grief. Heart blocks develop from being raised by a cold or narcissistic parent, rejection, shaming, constant criticism, unacknowledged grief, divorce, death of a loved one, conditional love, enduring physical or emotional abuse as a child or developing unhealthy beliefs surrounding love which cause us to form self-destructive habits that block the giving and receiving of love.
How to Optimize the Heart Chakra
1. Wear green or pink or bring these colors into the wardrobe and home with art, decor and fresh flowers.
2. Eat green. Green foods such as broccoli, spinach, kale, celery, greens, green beans, apples, kiwis and limes all nourish the heart chakra. Incorporating green herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro is a delicious way to bring some extra support to this center. Anything rose-based is also a tremendous heart healer as rose has the highest vibration of any plant on earth and is incredibly resonant with heart chakra energies. My current favorite rose-based products are this delicious tulsi (holy basil) rose tea from Herbal Revolution, the rose chai collagen booster from Anima Mundi and rose petal jam.
3. Spend time in nature among lush the green trees. Trees emit negative ions which balance the human body by neutralizing free radicals, enhancing immunity, lowering cortisol, soothing the nervous system and supercharging cell metabolism. Breathing in the fresh, clean air of a forest is especially healing for human lungs which are associated with the heart chakra.
3. Breathwork. Breathwork helps release bacteria that has accumulated in the lower lungs as well as grief and sadness, which collect in the lungs energetically. In yoga, it's believed that breathwork, or Pranayama (Sanskrit for 'extension of life force'), helps purify mind and life force energy by vitalizing the body, shifting energy, breaking up stagnation and boosting health and immunity. Click here to read more about simple breathwork techniques or join my holotropic breathwork teacher's next amazing class!
4. Forgiveness. Forgiving those who have wronged us is easier said than done surely, but releasing that bitterness will free up more heart space for love and understanding. I like this article for tangible action steps to take towards forgiveness.
5. Gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is a healthy way to heal blockages of the heart. Bringing intentional focus to the abundance we do have shifts perspective and allows for expansion of heart energies rather than constriction. Each morning before getting out of bed, call to mind three things you're grateful for. This simple daily practice can redirect the entire focus of your energy!
6. Work with essential oils. My Love Letter essential oil blend combines rose to promote feelings of love, lime for love of life, geranium for openness, ylang ylang for playfulness and Hawaiian Sandalwood for uplifting qualities.
7. Use healing crystals. Green and pink crystals such as jade, emerald, malachite, green calcite, green aventurine, rose quartz, cherry quartz, rhodonite, rhodochrosite, pink kunzite and watermelon tourmaline help promote feelings of love, peace, acceptance and forgiveness. (shop the LOVE set or LOVE LETTER set here).
8. Incorporate a mantra: "Judge less, accept more." "I am love." "I effortlessly receive love."
9. Heart-opening yoga poses such upward facing dog, puppy or "heart-melting" pose, camel, fish, dancer and any backbend motion will all encourage softening of an overly-armored heart chakra.
10. Random acts of Kindness. Buy coffee for the person behind you, donate time, money or resources to your favorite charity, extend a compliment to a stranger, send a handwritten note to a family member or friend - all of these acts of authentic kindness will help build the heart's capacity for universal love and compassion.
-How open am I to giving and receiving love
-Describe your heart
-I feel shut down when
-The first time I felt heartbreak was
-3 things I love about myself
-Who do I need to forgive
-Name 100 things, places, animals or people you love
-Free-write on "Love"
-Write yourself a love letter
Do you think you heart chakra may be deficient or excessive? Which of the healing methods resonates most with you? What's your favorite form of self-love?
Do you have the capacity to receive AND hold on to what you think you want?
Let’s try it – how does it feel in your body to imagine inviting a loving, healthy relationship into your life?
Where do you feel this in your body? What sensations do you feel when you imagine this? How does it feel – expansive or constricting? Do you feel a sense of lightness at the prospect of sharing your life with a supportive partner, or does the thought of this agitate you because your nervous system is used to chaotic relationships? Did you have to self-soothe as a child so now the thought of living with someone else makes you anxious because you are truly most comfortable alone?
Tomorrow marks the Fall Equinox and signifies one of two days out of the year (the other being the Spring or 'Vernal' Equinox) when day and night are almost exactly equal lengths and the entire planet is most in balance.
Taking our queue from Nature's rhythms, this week is the optimal time to examine balance in our lives.