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Learning to Open Your Heart

By Suzanne Falter-Barns

Five years ago a psychic in Key West, FL told me something I'm only just now beginning to understand. As I sat there in front of her, in a darkened room all full of incense, she intoned: "You'll have the success you want, Suzanne... but only when you open your heart." I wasn't sure what this meant, exactly, but I did what any good self-help devotee would do. I set out to crack the code on what "opening your heart meant.

My first stop was the aromatherapy store, where I spent a good hour sniffing this and that until I'd whipped up my own little brew designed to split open a congested heart chakra. (Mind you, I had no idea what I was doing, but this did seem like the place to start.) Then I headed over to my friend, Mary, the Oriental Medicine Woman. Mary listened to me quite seriously when I requested she set lots of needles that would open my heart. After the third treatment, she gingerly asked how it was going. "I don't know, I replied. "Well, what would "opening your heart be like? she asked. Again, I could not answer. Meanwhile, a nightly application of my heart chakra oil was giving me nothing but a greasy, rose-scented chest.

Ultimately, I forgot about opening my heart as the whirlwind of life sucked me on toward the next endeavor. Then one night I sat up in bed, suddenly aware of exactly what opening my heart really means. It means working hard on your passion, and investing time, money, and energy in getting it out there. It means doing whatever you have to do to follow your gut instincts and act on them. And it means facing down fear, and being uncomfortable, and having the courage to truly share yourself with others.

I knew this already. I'd learned it the first time I put together and lead a How Much Joy Can You Stand? workshop. During the weeks that I created it, I was racked with doubt; in the following weeks, when I worked on filling it, I had to keep making one uncomfortable phone call after another. Then, when I actually led it, I leapt from one peak of euphoria to another slippery point of fear, again and again. And yet, when that first day was over, we all seemed to be floating a few feet above the ground. For the first time, with my own eyes, I saw how I had really moved people. The feeling was one of deep, intimate connection; it was profound and unforgettable.

These days my work seems to be carrying me along in a tidal wave that moves at warp speed. I used to worry about being overwhelmed; now I'm just hoping I remember to do basic things like eat and meet the school bus. I wake up every morning flooded with ideas and instructions on the many projects I feel guided to do. And instead of worrying or panicking -- I find I'm just following along, open, willing, doing.

That seems to be what opening your heart is all about. And I've gotten here not by some external mechanism like aromatherapy, but simply by following my path and doing what I'm intuitively guided to do.

"Open your heart is another way to say "Touch someone else, as truly and deeply as you can." And as you do, prepare to be touched in return. For this is the continuum your creative gifts will always provide. You long to express yourself, so you do. And what you receive in return is not only creative fulfillment, but the beauty of knowing you have had an impact on another soul.

So why does such a pure act of goodness require courage? Because ultimately we fear that very power that we crave, just as much as we shy away from the tenderness of our love for our fellow man. Such intimacy brings up all our most "uncool feelings; it makes us realize the tremendous responsibility that comes with living a life of integrity. Suddenly it is no longer okay to live with mediocrity. Instead, you've tasted true depth and meaning... so you have no choice but to open your heart again and again, as you make sharing your gifts a regular part of your life.

This is a perfect plan, one you can even enjoy once you relax into it. I invite you to dig a little deeper and open the piece of your heart that remains hidden. All you will receive in return is love, growth, and a sense that all is right with the world.

Copyright 2006 Suzanne Falter-Barns

About The Author

Suzanne Falter-Barns

For information on how to find the time, energy, money to live your purpose in life, check out Suzanne's free ezine, The Joy Letter. Sign up at and receive our valuable report, 35 Guaranteed Time Savers. And get a daily blast of joyful tips from the Blast o Joy blog at


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