“I try to swim with as much space around my heart as possible.”
That’s what my friend, Sarah, told me last week. She followed it immediately with, “Well that’s weird, I mean, it sounds silly and I’m not trying to be all spiritual or whatever…”
Sarah is a practical person, a professional consultant and a runner. She has done a fair amount of yoga in her Vermont hometown, but she does not typically talk like a fruit-loop yoga teacher going on about “space” and her “heart.”
Since I frequently do talk like a yoga teacher—using language with colorful imagery and limited logical sense—I took the phrase and ran with it.
Almost every subsequent class I’ve led has been treated to my musings on moving through poses and life in general with space around your heart.
Inhale deeply now and imagine the breath flowing all around the back, sides, front, top and bottom of your heart. Feel anything?
It might feel a little constricted and achy in there, or it might feel as open and spacious as a cathedral or a mini-galaxy.
Go ahead and come up with your own oddball description. One day you could have a cracking ice feeling, another a sense of warm chocolate fondue.
If you don’t feel anything at all, except a little perplexed, don’t worry. You’ve arrived a starting point for a beautiful mind/body relationship.
Sarah happened upon the soft-glowy feeling of swimming with as much space around her heart as possible, because she didn’t have any other goal in mind when she swam. She wasn’t trying to go fast, or count laps or burn calories. She didn’t have anything to prove in the water. She was free to listen to the rhythm of her breath and feel her body in motion without judgement. What arose was a spacious-heart feeling.
It may have helped that Sarah has, as I mentioned, done some yoga. In class she has literally bent over backwards (and forwards and sideways) in any number of “heart opening” poses.
If yoga is not your thing, you could simply go for a walk or garden or drive or do whatever you do with the intention of feeling as much space around your heart as possible.
My friend pictured above is Melissa. She swims long distances in open water and also does triathlons and maybe even those races where you get all muddy. I’m not sure. I know she loves to challenge herself.
My suspicion is that she also loves to let the vast ocean, and the mountain views and even the muddy earth all mix with her strong, steady breath and become the space around her heart.
Both Sarah and Melissa are spectacularly gorgeous forces of nature. When they breathe with space around their hearts they get to feel all of that beauty. And so can you. Please do.