How to Keep your Heart Open After Heartbreak


I'm going to be upfront. I got dumped a couple days ago and it's revealing so much to me about hope and disappointment in life. It has become a huge lesson in radical acceptance.

Here's the Story

I was on the phone with someone I cared about deeply. I was telling them about radical acceptance, a concept I learned in therapy that is very near and dear to my heart. I teach it to my meditation clients too. Radical acceptance is being receptive to the situation you're in, despite how unpleasant it may be. Instead of adding any buts or ifs to the story, it's about embracing the truth of the situation. It's the opposite of denial.

Moments later, after going into a detailed and heartfelt explanation on radical acceptance, the person on the phone broke up with me. It was done in the calmest way, but it was horrific. I wanted to scream. I noticed myself trying to slip in the buts and ifs into the situation, as if I could help rewrite the truth in my favor. But the truth was: A relationship I valued so much was ending.

That whole phone call was a brutal lesson in radical acceptance. It took every ounce of courage I had to accept what was happening.

Now, I could use this opportunity to lecture you on self-love, but I think I'd rather just tell you about using this dark moment to find light again. Besides, my friend Suzanne Heyn is the expert in self-love.

How to Get Lit After Heartbreak

No, I don't mean "lit" as in getting wasted. (Although you could choose that route.) I mean lit as in lit with inspiration and momentum to keep going. Grief and loss can distort your perspective on life, and many things could seem pointless right after. But instead of falling into a black hole of apathy, I think we can reach for the light. After all, seeds are planted in the dirt.

The thing I've been saying and thinking the most after this break up is "I don't know what to do next." I held this relationship so close to me and it gave me so much hope, that I literally don't know what to do now. I don't know what to think about relationships or dating. But I'm allowing the light of my intuition to guide me toward each day.

No. 1 Hold space for your emotions

If you're somebody who is highly aware of your emotions, whether from meditation or therapy, use this experience as an opportunity to hold space for yourself. It's completely normal to feel like you are holding Pandora's Box in your heart. Emotions are wild. I find that it's easier to let them run amok until they're tired, rather than try to tame them right away. The night I got dumped, all I did was cry and played break up music. It wasn't pretty, but it was necessary. Holding space for my emotions meant I let my inner child roam.

No. 2 Be around others who will hold space for your emotions

I know it's hard to ask for help. Normally, I like to go at it alone and get really dark and self-destructive, before I send an S.O.S. But this time I asked for help A.S.A.P. I texted my peeps. Why? I simply felt like I needed help, and I knew that I was worthy of help. Although step 2 sounds like an external thing, it's about self-compassion and discernment. I had enough self-compassion to not only hold space for my emotions, but to know that I needed others who could help me. Remember, you're one out of billions. And a few people will be glad for your vulnerability and an opportunity to be a good friend. Being around others who will hold space for my emotions meant I let my inner child be taken care of by others.

No. 3 Let it RAIN as long as it needs to

RAIN is a mindfulness-based method for radical acceptance, or seeing overwhelming things as they are. It's a fancy acronym that feels so appropriate for someone like me, who lives in a rainy area year-round.

R is to Recognize what's going on

A is to Allow it to be

I is to Investigate your emotions

N is Non-identification, realize you are not your situation but a Seer of it.

While I am for holding space, I am also for efficiency in dealing with my volcanic moods. The best, most honest way for me is to use RAIN. It helps me detach, but without the pitfalls of denial.

And that my friends, is how I am staying lit while undergoing some serious heartbreak. I can't brush off my yoga practice though, so here's some heart openers I enjoy doing in order to keep me open to love and life.

A Little Asana Goes a Long Way: Heart Openers

Shoulder Stretch

You could do this shoulder stretch on the floor or by a wall. Have your belly face the floor or wall. Take out one arm in a T-position with the palm down. Try to relax the shoulders down. Slowly twist your torso in the opposite direction of the arm. Stretch as deeply as you need to feel open in the shoulders. Do the other side.

Supported Fish Pose

There are so many variations of this pose, you can try it with a bolster or blanket if this instruction doesn't work for you. Take a block and place it directly below your upper back/chest area. Head/neck should be hanging. Make time to adjust the block as needed. It could be either vertically or horizontally placed. You can have your legs straight out or bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Hands are by your side, palms up. To get out, roll over onto one side.

Bow Pose

Come onto your belly. Plant your pelvic area onto the floor. Engage your core and legs. Grab your ankles/toes. Inhale and lift your thighs, kicking into your hands. Allow your neck to remain neutral as you lift your upper body - only as far as there's no low back pain.

I will add a video of me demoing these three poses soon. Also, I know now would be a great time for regular meditation, but it's not something I am doing which is why I'm not suggesting it. I feel too raw for mindful meditation, but I do like repeating lovingkindness phrases to myself while driving.

I leave you with a quote that's helping me stay lit and aspiring toward openness during these times from Michael A. Singer's The Untethered Soul.

The most important thing in life is your inner energy. If you're always tired and never enthused, then life is no fun. But if you're always inspired and filled with energy, then every minute of every day is an exciting experience. Learn to work with these things. Through meditation, through awareness and willful efforts, you can learn to keep your centers open. You do this by just relaxing and releasing. You do this by not buying into the concept that there is anything worth closing over. Remember, if you love life, nothing is worth closing over. Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over.

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