February brings to mind so many things that symbolize love and connection to me such as Valentines Day, my sisters birthday, and the month of our traditional heART show, hence the photo chosen this month.
Living and loving from the heart can be joyful and painful, and despite preferring the joyful part, our lives are deeply enriched and often propelled toward greatness from a place of feeling the painful side of love. Further as we bring more love to ourselves and others who are experiencing the painful side of love we can crack open the endless wellspring of loving connected presence.
So how do we live a heart centered life? Well most readers can guess I would recommend starting with mindfulness as a foundation of self awareness that can expand further into deepening awareness of our interconnectedness and also deepening our awareness of what matters most. It is critical to develop mindfulness with kindness, or what has been coined “Kindfulness”.
When we start with ourselves and cultivate kind awareness, then self acceptance, understanding, and love can grow where once lived criticism, judgments, and hatred. Living a heart centered life requires us to tap into our heart and open it up. Unfortunately for most people this process of opening the heart can bring forth pain and all the experiences, beliefs, and emotions associated with past times our hearts have been hurt, broken, or even smashed.
So why bother?
Witnessing the reopening of the heart is painful and often a struggle that requires great assistance from others and perseverance in facing unfelt parts of the pain of being harmed or neglected. Yet witnessing those who continue to live with hearts closed is far more painful. I guess that is part of why I do what I do for a living, as a psychologist and mindfulness teacher I am dedicated to helping people reduce their own suffering and start to live and love again.
For those reading this who are still protecting your hearts, it is critical to know that it is okay and even understandable because whatever we discover that “protects” us can be difficult to ever release or let go of because it may have helped you to survive. Surviving is critical, however the skills and tools used to survive are ones that often get in the way of living and loving. So my wish to anyone reading this who is living with their heart closed, I wish you the safety, and the love and the self-kindness that is required to open the heart again to feel the joyful side of love and connection.
For those whose hearts are open my wish is that you will give space and time and send that loving energy to people who are suffering, especially those suffering from a heart that is wounded. We are healed through loving connected presence and each person who cultivates loving connected presence is a healer and is healed when they are in that state.
So what is loving connected presence?
It is mindfulness + love and kindness + connection in community. When we cultivate one we can grow in the others, however when we practice and cultivate all three we can begin to live our life from this place and this is where the miracle or magic of mindfulness appears.
You don’t believe me?
It’s ok- don’t -just try it and discover for yourself how mindfulness + love and kindness + connection through community can transform even the most brokenhearted.
Not sure where to start?
Start with beginning mindfulness classes, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) that are all available at the Sacred Treehouse or if you need more support check out DBT at the Therapeutic Oasis or in a therapy practice in your state or country so you can receive professional help from a therapist who is trained in Mindfulness Based Interventions or (MBI’s).
This month we will continue to share guided practices designed to increase loving connected presence and inspire readers with books and interviews of people who are turning the painful part of love into healing.
Sending love and kindness,
Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty
Need support in overcoming obstacles? Just email us at email@example.com to set up individualized mindfulness coaching.
Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.