Is opening the heart a good thing?

We live in a world where many, many, many people are walking around with hearts locked and chained against what life has to offer. They usually have good reason. For all of its wonders the world can be a dangerous place and for many of us it has proven to be quite dangerous. So the impulse to shut down the heart from further hurt makes perfect sense.

Though many try, it is impossible to selectively feel the emotions we like while shutting out the ones we don’t. In attempting to do so we end up shutting out everything, so our emotional lives become muted, taking on the hue of dull grey rather than the vibrant rainbow we are meant to experience.

We especially shut ourselves off from love, and without love we become brittle caricatures of ourselves disconnected from the great potential residing within us. It can certainly be argued that many of the ills we face in our current culture are rooted in this deep disconnect from the heart.

On the surface it would seem that opening the heart would be a welcome change, but is it really?

Yes and no.

On one hand opening our hearts gives us access to the whole palette of emotion and experience of the heart. We do want access to that entire palette but an indiscriminately open heart can give us access to experiences we are not prepared for and don’t have the skills to handle, or are simply not good for us. A wide open heart is just too vulnerable to function well in the world. Unless we choose lives of solitude and contemplation within a protected environment, it is essential to learn how to protect our hearts without shutting down entirely.

The truth of the matter is, our hearts do need protection. Simply working on opening the heart without developing the capacity to protect it when needed is not in anyone’s best interest.

But how? I will continue to explore this issue and related topics in the next few articles.

Next: Protecting the Heart

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