There are many ways to exercise your spiritual heart. Here are a few practices you might try.

Expand Your Heart With the Buddhist Practice of Tonglen
In this practice, you simply breathe in your own or someone else's pain or anger and breathe out peace and love. With each breath, inhale the pain, then exhale love. You do not need to worry whether you are doing it "right." Just set your intention as you take each breath. According to Buddhist practitioners, you can even focus on breathing in the pain of all beings and breathing out peace. You will be healing yourself and others at the same time. Try it for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, or as long as you like. You may find as you begin that the painful contracted feeling you're trying to heal may even intensify. Don't let that scare you. It's not so much that it is intensifying as you are becoming more aware and present with what is. That's the first step to transformation. If you keep doing the exercise, you will find that something in your chest begins to loosen.

Meet a Challenge With Gratitude
Think of someone with whom you would like to experience more harmony. It could be someone you love or someone you think of as a challenge. Spend five minutes a day acknowledging this person with appreciation and gratitude. You can find one good quality each time to recognize in this person.

To do this, go into a meditative or relaxed state. Close your eyes and take a minute to tune in to your breathe as it goes in and goes out. Then, in your mind's eye, see this person standing in front of you or sitting in a lotus position, like the Buddha. Silently express your appreciation and gratitude.
If you want to be more spiritually daring, you can even spend the time thanking a challenging person for his or her anger, jealousy, or frustration. Although the person seems to be causing these feelings in you, he or she is actually providing an opportunity for you to heal these feelings that you may have experienced in other situations. In that sense, this person, at least at the soul level, is a divine teacher.

You will probably notice some kind of effect as you do this practice over a period of time, in yourself and perhaps in the other person as well, or in the dynamics between you. You don't have to discuss this practice with the other person. In fact, it's probably better to do this inner work on your own. I once did this practice with the sullen young woman who worked in a deli I went to every day. In time, she began to greet me warmly every time I walked in.

Pray for Someone Who Has Upset You
If you want to give the muscles of your spiritual heart a good workout, try praying for someone who has caused you pain. You may be very angry or hurt, or even believe this person is your mortal enemy. Pray for this person's highest good, as well as your own highest good. Do this sincerely for a few weeks. Then notice if your feelings have changed or if anything has happened to lighten the situation.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad