Take heart. How to feel, give and receive more love

Heart-shaped tree in field

Ah, love, that most desirous and ruinous of human emotions. Fortunately this blog is not about the drama of romantic love (although that is relevant too) but love in a spiritual sense.

The heart chakra, located in the centre of the chest, is the energy centre that’s all about how we give and receive love – to all people, not just our partners, and to ourselves. 

People who have blockages in their heart chakra can be judgmental or they could be prone to jealousy. They might be unable to forgive someone or they might be grappling with grief.

As the fourth of the seven chakras, this is the meeting point of the energy centres that are associated with the physical world (the basesacral and solar plexus chakras) and the three chakras representing the spiritual world (more on each of those in future posts). To get a bit airy-fairy, it’s where heaven and earth meet. 

When the heart chakra is balanced, we’re compassionate, empathetic, forgiving, peaceful, loving and able to help others without depleting our own resources (i.e. we don’t overcommit). We’re also able to honour our feelings, crying when we need to, but also administer self-care when we need it – that’s everything from drawing ourselves a bubble bath to simply speaking kindly to ourselves. We’re also able to receive love easily – we don’t say ‘no’ to people when they offer to help and we don’t put up barriers when people who we like get close to us.

What I think is so significant about the heart chakra is that while the solar plexus was all about shame, this chakra’s enemy is grief. If you think about it, it is loss of any sort (not just bereavement) that makes the heart hurt. Because self-love is so strongly emphasised in this chakra, this loss might be to do with your attachment to ideas about what your life should look like or who you thought you should have become.

Repressed emotions really come to the fore in this chakra – particularly for people who suffered deep hurts in childhood such as a death in the family, bullying or abandonment by a parent.

Two hands forming heart shape

People with deficiencies in the heart chakra might be:

* anti-social

* lonely

* fearful of intimacy

* narcissistic

* judgmental (including racist, sexist, homophobic etc)

* lacking empathy

* unable to let go

* unable to forgive

* struggling to accept help from people

People with excessive energy in the heart chakra might be:

* co-dependent

* jealous

* demanding of their loved ones

* needing to be needed

* fearful of betrayal

Physically heart chakra blockages show up in heart problems (obviously), circulation issues, asthma and lung issues, low immunity, high or low blood pressure and tension between the shoulder blades. 

Any issues with the arms can be related, too – and when I’m clearing this chakra in a reiki session people often report tingling in their hands. That’s because this chakra is all about touch – and that’s a key way we show love to people, right?  

To clear blockages in the heart chakra, forgiveness is the key (read my post about that here).

· Another suggestion I’ve heard is to try and go a week without criticising anyone, which will really help you examine how accepting you are.

· Remember that love is about giving AND receiving, so look at how you can increase the amount of love you’re giving out – that’s anything from smiling at people regularly to giving compliments and donating to people in need.

· If you’re into yoga, back bends, bridges and the wheel pose are great for targeting this chakra – and yoga also helps you to sit in the present moment, which is beneficial for your energy field as a whole.

I forgive you. Not because I want to, but because I need to

Moving on, forgiving, letting goThis is one of those posts that I really don’t want to write, but am being urged to. It’s on forgiveness, which has been coming up a lot in angel card readings lately – both in my daily card posts on social media and personal readings for people – so it's the right time to look at this idea in detail.
Whenever the forgiveness card presents itself, the objection I typically encounter is along these lines: ‘But I was right!’ Yeah, I know how that song goes. In fact, I wrote that song.

Fifteen years ago as an idealistic, overly earnest journalism student I managed to secure work at a mediocre lifestyle magazine. I worked really hard, fitting in advertorial writing and production work around classes and lectures. It was draining, but I made it work because I knew how good it would look on my résumé. Then something devastating happened – a workmate was killed in horrific circumstances. I don’t want to tell you about that right now as it’s not the point of this anecdote. I will tell you about it in the near future, though, as that story – one of the bleakest chapters of my life – is an integral part of my own story. Suffice it to say that as a result of this heart-shattering tragedy, the staff and managers were brought closer together. When you are grieving with others, and throwing yourselves into work as a means of coping, it brings you together like few other experiences can.
So you can imagine how stunned I was when the owner of the magazine refused to pay me for the work I’d done. She’d always paid my invoices in the past, as per our verbal agreement, but after I left to get a full-time job, she seemed to decide I no longer deserved fair treatment for the work I’d done over the previous several months. At first she fobbed me off to the accountant. His excuses became increasingly sketchy, and it became apparent they had no intention of paying me at all. Perhaps they never had. I made several emotional phone calls and emails, to no avail. This went on for months. Then the owner shut down the company and started publishing the same magazine under a different company name, thereby wiping all her financial history. This meant I had no recourse to recover my money.
When I reflect on this now it doesn’t seem like a massive crime but at the time I felt deeply, deeply aggrieved. It was only $2400 but that was a lot of money to a 21-year-old student. And it wasn’t really about the money, it was the sense of betrayal. I had poured so much time and energy into that magazine in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We had all depended on each other in a time of immense darkness. And even without the emotional component, I DESERVED that money. I had earned it! To be denied something that is rightfully yours, to have your reasonable requests denied… the sense of injustice I felt was acute. As someone who had always been taught to treat people fairly, it was beyond my comprehension that anyone could behave so callously and then think that that was acceptable.
For years I felt bitter every time I saw her stupid magazine on a newsstand. I stopped reading the Sunday papers because the sight of her smug face in the social pages made me incandescent with rage. Her continued success left me seething. I don’t know how long I held onto this anger... about eight years, maybe. I didn’t want to forgive her, because she was in the wrong and I was right (!). And besides, she wasn’t sorry, so why should I forgive her?
But what I’ve learned about forgiveness over the years is that choosing to forgive doesn’t mean you’re condoning the action or agreeing with what happened, it just means youre releasing the pain and bitterness so you can be free from suffering. You can’t change the past but you can change the way you feel about it. The situation really sucked, but nothing – not my steadfast anger, nor a (highly unlikely) apology – could change that. So a few years ago I decided to simply forgive her. Her lack of both culpability and remorse are nothing to do with me. My responsibility is to myself. To set myself free and truly move forward, I owed it to myself to sever ties with the situation and banish that dark cloud from my landscape. 
Would I say hello to her today if I saw her on the street? Doubtful. Would I buy a copy of her shitty magazine? Not in a million years. But I don’t have to be friends with her or even have a conversation with her in order to forgive her. Its a shift that involves me only. Theres a reason so many metaphysical tomes cite forgiveness as the key to personal growth  holding onto bitterness creates an energy block that affects what you attract into your life (or dont). It keeps you the victim. So this is what I did. I wrote a long, emotional letter to her, outlining my pain, then ripped it up and threw it out. This sounds too simple to be effective, but believe me when I tell you it was cathartic. I did a forgiveness meditation, too (FYI you can find these on YouTube). The change was subtle, but significant. I started to feel lighter, more optimistic about a future in which I could trust people (something I hadn't realised I had become resistant to). I also hadn’t realised how much anger I had held on a deep level, nor how much that had been keeping me stuck. Often the true extent of our pain is concealed by righteousness. She had caused the grievance but I had perpetuated it. I held tight to the belief that I couldnt move on without my money or at least an apology, but in truth, I had been my own jailer.
What are you holding onto? Aren’t you ready to let it go? 
Maybe the person you need to forgive is yourself.