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Heart Wide Open

I woke up this morning to a quiet house.  I moved through some yoga; simple, quiet, reflective poses.  I meditated.

I began going about my day; organizing myself, attending to work, family, things on the horizon.  I took a little break to meander about the internet and Facebook.  I am not much into local news or news in general unless it’s from a worthy source.  There seems to be such a focus on all that is wrong, who is to blame and who is the victim.  Nonetheless, as I took a few minutes to check in with the world and people that I often don’t get to see face to face, I came across personal stories and news stories that evoked deep sadness in me.  I found myself pausing, taking in a deep, heart heavy breath and not so much for me, but more for the people whom I was feeling for.  I was feeling for their loss, their struggle, their stories.  Whether it was news of the recent tragic plane crash above the French Alps or a more intimate story of loss that someone was brave enough to share, I was quite affected.  I could have gotten caught up in the story behind the difficulty, but this time around, mostly, my heart felt open to their suffering.  I took many deep, grounding breaths.  Likely there is nothing that I can do to affect change in these circumstances, but for some moments I offered my presence.

From the outside looking in, one could wonder, well what’s the point?  What’s the point in offering presence when it’s not even known and nothing ultimately changes?  Yes, maybe there is nothing I can do to help alleviate every instance of suffering that I encounter, but my willingness to pause and be with what I feel changes me.  It allows my heart to grow softer, more open, more connected.  Perhaps that openness of heart will in some way, somehow make a difference going forward.  Perhaps it will allow me to stay more open the next time there is an action that I can take, where there is a change that I can affect.  Maybe, just maybe, that action can be rooted in compassion and love.

“We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.”

~ Pema Chodron

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. 86 #

    My heart feels softened reading this. Thank you for sharing your truth. Those roots of compassion will undoubtedly flower for all to see. And everyone loves flowers.

    To paraphrase Thich Naht Hanh, I have found that the people who nourish their roots of compassion are the ones I can take refuge in in times of need.

    March 26, 2015
  2. 86 #

    And nourishing those roots is the often the most unnoticed, yet most necessary work. No mud, no lotus 🙂

    March 26, 2015
    • Thank you so much Jeremy! I’m so glad we got to connect earlier today. 🙂

      March 26, 2015
  3. Lovely to see you writing regularly

    March 26, 2015
    • Thank you so much, Jerry, for making time to read!

      March 26, 2015
  4. Francesca #

    Hi Shelia, I am a friend of your sister’s from Ann Arbor. Your piece is beautiful. The Germanwings airline crash evokes deep deep sadness in me also. My meditation practice is new, but I incorporated your idea of offering my presence, and it does soften the heart and the grief. Thank you 🙂

    March 26, 2015
    • Thank you so much for reading Francesca & I am glad it resonated with you. 🙂 It’s such a small world.

      March 26, 2015
  5. amee #

    I never comment but i wanted to take a min to do so today. I also felt very moved and silenced and confused about my feeling regarding the plane crash. As i was going about my day today i was thinking lots of thoughts and asking god for mercy and lots of other little things. And those moments and thoughts about others on the other side of the globe seem to just quickly dissipate back again into whats happening now in my world. Nice post.

    March 26, 2015
    • Thank you for sharing that Amee. I found much the same as by the afternoon I was at my girls’ school exhibit and immersed in the moment in front of me.

      March 26, 2015

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