Author: Susan R. Johnson MD, F.A.A.P.
Published: Dec 12th, 2012
Updated: May 18th, 2013
I was once told at a communication workshop, which I attended a number of years ago, that I had a lopsided heart. No explanation was given as to what that meant, though somehow that statement felt true. Love poured out from me so easily in certain directions, such as to other children and their families but not so easily to my husband and to a certain beloved family member. In these two relationships love definitely felt conditional. Love had to be earned, and yet it was so challenging trying to earn their love. I felt I couldn't do anything right. I felt constantly criticized, and at other times when I performed well at my work, and thought they would be proud, I instead felt their jealousy. This was definitely a no-win situation. To survive, I learned to withhold my love around these two people just to stay safe and to avoid having my heart more deeply hurt. Recently, just being in the physical presence of this beloved family member, or just having thoughts of being in the physical presence of this person, would physically incapacitate me. I would develop an illness like a sore throat, laryngitis, or pneumonia or have an accident, twisting my back in a certain way or crystallizing my knee. My thoughts, my feelings, and my physical movements were all now so deeply interconnected that every fearful thought or feeling I was having was affecting my physical form.
When I was much younger, in my 30s, and totally oblivious to this present moment place, my physical body was not so intimately connected with my thoughts and feelings. I did not have a Waldorf education as a child, which strives to integrate these soul forces of thinking, feeling and willing. The relationship of my thoughts with my feelings and physical body felt like a jigsaw puzzle with lots of missing pieces. My mind, heart and body were disconnected in so many areas of my life. After completing a 3 year Waldorf Teacher Training Program with Dorit Winter as director, I started connecting my mind, for the first time, to my heart and physical body. Now the types of thoughts I was thinking started dramatically influencing my feelings and emotions as well as the health of my physical body. I even started forming pictures and scenes in my mind when I spoke words to others and when others spoke words to me. What I was feeling in my heart at any given moment started to influence the kinds of thoughts I was having and the way my physical body looked and moved in space. What I was thinking at any given moment generated feelings and again affected the way my physical body looked and moved in space.
My old survival method of just avoiding that particular person and protecting my heart by closing it down and shielding it when that person was around me no longer worked. Every thought I had and every emotion I felt were now being experienced in my physical body. My negative thoughts about this person and painful feelings created a huge energy drain on me, resulting in profound fatigue, loneliness, dissatisfaction with my personal life and sometimes a physical illness. My entire being was contracting. I no longer seemed to be able to experience or radiate this limitless joy and love that I remember having and emanating as a young child. Contraction in my physical body led to even more injuries, joint pain and stiffness. As my physical body continued to contract, my thoughts turned even more negative and my feelings more dark. As I limited the flow of love in my thoughts and my feelings, my physical body became more contracted, sometimes to the point of complete immobility. My survival strategy of closing down my heart to the other was not only contracting my entire being, but it was causing me to leave the present moment. My purposeful disconnection of my thoughts from my feelings and from my body was teaching me not to feel, to become numb and frozen in my movements.
When we are in the present moment, and therefore integrated and connected in our thinking, feeling, and willing, then love can always flow to and from our being. There is no state of contraction. As human beings we exist to love one another. If other people cannot receive the love that we offer, know that they are probably feeling lost, disorganized and disconnected in their own being. Sometime on this earthly plane of our existence we need to protect ourselves physically and emotionally from another human being, but we do not have to close down our heart. As a beloved friend recently taught me, we can gently embrace the other in our imagination by placing one of our hands over that persons heart and other hand on that persons back. As we imagine holding them in this way we can ask for the highest source of love to surround both of us. We can always send this divine love to another human being. We can always keep our hearts open while we set the necessary physical and emotional boundaries in this earthly existence. The amazing thing is that sending love to another human being in this way is life-changing. The anger, guilt, resentment, desperation, and frustration all start to disappear from our own hearts. We can maintain our full presence, and with the guilt gone we can see the situation more clearly and have more consistent emotional and physical boundaries with that person, be with our spouse, children, parents, grandparents, beloved friends or colleagues.
Now for the first time, I no longer need to have my lopsided heart. I can start to fully love myself and extend that love to others. My thoughts, my feelings and my deeds can all be about love. There is no need to contract anymore in my being if I experience fear in a relationship which usually manifests by my feeling hurt or angry. I have the power within myself to find that deep unconditional love in all situations. I can forgive myself for my shortcomings and I can forgive others. This has to be how President Nelson Mandela survived decades of wrongful imprisonment, yet radiated love and forgiveness. This is the great unconditional love all spiritual traditions speak about and that we all seek, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. This is the great love that the world's religions have been constructed around, though they seem to forget unconditional love when they seek to destroy others who do not believe exactly what they believe! Yet this unconditional love is our birthright as human beings. We deserve this love. Our children deserve to be loved and raised in this way. Our mother earth, our environment, and all living creatures on this planet deserve this love. As we strive to integrate our thoughts, feelings and deeds and as we strive to truly love the other in whatever capacity the other will allow, unconditional love will heal each other, heal our planet, and heal our entire universe.