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The Broken Heart

I used to co-own an optical store dedicated to serving the vision needs of a wide community. I’ve worn glasses most of my life. People wear glasses to see clearer and that helps them live their lives. I’m so far away from that life now, and yet I’m so close to it. I work with vision on a daily basis, honing my skill at seeing wider images while discerning the closer images living my human life.

This type of bifocal vision was first coined by Dr. Roberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology movement in 1911.

As a trained Psychosynthesis Counselor, I learned to perceive bifocally the world events, the people I am helping and even myself because there is always differing perceptions of what is appearing and what is the bigger picture. It’s been a useful skill in my present life.

Holding bifocal vision, I can see humanity’s collective hearts and they are breaking open in these times to uncover the true meaning of human life. Each of us is experiencing this breaking-open process. The stories may be different and yet so many of them are similar. Coming back to love. Coming back to priorities. Coming back to respect and coming back to integrity.

The results are echoing the work by Don Miguel Ruiz, a Toltec spiritualist and author of the Four Agreements. In writing this meditation, I found evidence of the Fifth Agreement which is essentially about discerning truth. The Four Agreements are:

  • Be Impeccable With your Word

  • Don’t Take Anything Personally

  • Don’t Make Assumptions

  • Always Do Your Best

I work diligently living by the above agreements because they hold a truth that guides me. I am a work in progress on not taking anything personally because it’s hard in the thick of things to keep myself neutral amidst chaos. I accept it is part of my human lesson to learn to detach.

Parker Palmer, an author, educator and activist wrote an essay entitled The Broken-Open Heart - Living with Faith and Hope in the Tragic Gap. He talks about at least two ways the heart breaks open:

“The heart can be broken into a thousand shards, sharp-edged fragments that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain. Every day, untold numbers of people try without success to “pick up the pieces,” some of them taking grim satisfaction in the way the heart’s explosion has injured their enemies. Here, the broken heart is an unresolved wound that we carry with us for a long time, sometimes tucking it away and feeding it as a hidden wound, sometimes trying to “resolve it” by inflicting the same wound on others.”
“Another way to visualize what a broken heart might mean. Imagine that small, clenched fist of a heart “broken open” into largeness of life, into greater capacity to hold one’s own and the world’s pain and joy. This, too, happens every day. We know that heartbreak can become a source of compassion and grace because we have seen it happen with our own eyes as people enlarge their capacity for empathy and their ability to attend to the suffering of others.”

Humanity is suffering broken hearts. Some are growing with their broken hearts into a greater capacity of being and others are striking out against fellow humans with their pain. This bird’s eye view doesn’t take away my concern and my angst. But it gives me information and comfort in knowing there’s a growth process happening and all of humanity is participating, no matter who they are. It is part of the great collective consciousness righting itself.

I hold this bifocal vision as I take care with my actions, manage my daily tasks with mindfulness and practice kindness, respect for myself and others and do my best in all situations. I treat myself the way I want to be treated. All in the name of integrity.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • This has been wonderful. Thank you.

  • Thanks so much. This was helpful.

  • When you were talking about your bifocal vision, I was thinking about a concept I learned as an educator called ‘with-it-ness.’ If you are helping one student, you have to be aware of everything that is happening around you, in the whole classroom. You can’t put your attention on just that student. Kind of similar to that, even at a greater scale if you think about all the people there are in the world, you are just adding it to your consciousness. Our collective consciousness is everybody. I sure felt held today in the meditation. That’s a good thing to be thinking about, clearer vision, both micro and macro.

  • I felt held as well. A close friend’s mother died of Covid last night, and I am feeling my broken heart for his because he was not able to be with his mother. He is coming out of his own quarantine and I can’t even hug him now. It was just good to honor all dimensions of the broken heart, especially in light of everything that has happened, for our country, at the Capitol, and the loss of the police officer’s life last night. To keep that perspective, and to know, in the greatest whole, there is only love and only light, and to feel it all. Thank you.

  • Thank you. I liked the way the first two sharers said ‘I felt held.’ Because I did feel that. The reading was great, about my broken heart and what I do with it and I have choice, and the four agreements and to be able to live in integrity which I want to live in. I felt like I had an emotional hangover the day after the Capitol. My emotions were completely taken. I was not in control in the way I was yelling at the TV. This morning, what I felt, I tried to go back to the heart and say, where are you and what’s happening. I saw green and purple colors, it was just so soothing, like a kaleidoscope kind of holding me. That’s what it felt like, being held. And to say we’re okay, just keep opening my heart and breathe. Open my heart and breathe, and be willing to be there. Thank you. This group is amazing to me; I’m honored to be a part of it.

  • I usually meditate with my palms up. At some point during today’s meditation, I felt drawn to put my palms down, and then I put my left palm up and my right hand down. And immediately, a chant came to me:

“From you I receive, from me I give. Together we share, by this we live.”
  • Over and over for the last part of the meditation. I was planning to light a candle today for heart, for giving and receiving. What came to me is to light a fire in the fireplace, and keep that going today for as long as it speaks to me to burn. To have that flame going. Thank you.

  • I also felt yesterday that I was walking through mud all day. I couldn’t concentrate. I was so off because of what happened at the Capitol. I knew what I needed to do was stay focused. It’s always my goal, to stay centered no matter what is happening around me. In physics, there is a term homeostasis: whatever the vicissitudes of the milieu around me, to stay in a steady state. The reading yesterday about practice and today’s reading are helpful in staying centered. But it’s not enough to just be centered in myself, but to reach out to friends which I also did. I’m glad I did. It’s the importance of empathy and caring. I’m glad we are together.

  • There was such a richness in many things you said. I choose to focus on being neutral and not taking something personally in the four agreements you described. My emotions flood me when I feel broken-hearted or I feel something strongly or I feel the experience of someone being upset with me. That whole notion of what it means to be neutral and not take it personally and still be a human being and feel it and experience it. Something I was sitting with. I have never thought of that as a possibility, as a place to be in response to something. I’ve thought that I’m not going to lose it, and I’ll deal with it later. But that comes from a different place in me. I really appreciate that.

  • People are mentioning heart. I woke up this morning and was getting out of bed, and on my sheet was a tiny, tiny gold heart. I don’t know where it came from. At first, I thought it was a sticker. I think the Universe sent me a heart to say ‘have heart, you are loved.’ It’s like a little miracle.

  • I was struck by the concept of the two types of broken heart. I felt both of them over the last couple of days. The angry broken heart, the shards, the screaming at the television. And then the opening. I had a real experience yesterday. I do volunteer services for people. Yesterday, I was asking each of my people how they were doing. One of my people has political banners everywhere and every time I go there, I have to calm myself down and stay cool. As I entered the house, I saw that all the posters were gone. I had walked in with the angry broken heart. This person’s family was moving them closer to the family against their will, and the family took down all the pictures. My whole mood changed completely as my heart shifted. I had empathy and sorrow for this person who was broken. A change of focus for me, of being able to comfort this person. The reading and two types of heart spoke to me and I see how we have a chance to decide how to approach them.

  • Thank you so much. I’m amazed how much you give us to think about, what a gift you give us every day. Yesterday, I too felt so much heaviness and sadness. Looking at it today after the reading, I feel so blessed to have a group where we can cry inside together. I felt yesterday that we were all sad, all hurting inside, and yet we were all together. If we were physically together, without Covid, there would be a lot of hugging. I so welcome we can laugh and cry together and hurt together, and see a road ahead together.

  • Thank you. What richness we share with our presence, with our words, with our eyes. It’s amazing. It’s such a blessing. It does carry me through the day; it does inspire me to keep going, to trust that words will come again, that we will meet again even if only one person. It is so meaningful. I am so grateful. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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